As recently as a few years ago support for private and/or public cloud storage providers by enterprise data protection products was still a hit-or-miss proposition. Those days are essentially over. The vast majority of products minimally leverage cloud providers as cloud storage targets and, in many cases, use them for more advanced recovery options. But as support for the cloud has become commonplace, three specific new features appear on more of these products making them more flexible, manageable, and scalable while also serving to foretell what all these products will offer in the very near future.
In the next few months, DCIG will release a variety of reports that examine cloud data protection products from multiple viewpoints. Some of these reports will be in the form of DCIG’s traditional Buyer’s Guides and Product Ranking Bulletins that help organizations find the best product for their environments. Other reports will be the new DCIG Pocket Analyst Reports. These reports, which will be available for sale, will do side-by-side comparisons on two products or product families to further assist organizations in making the right choice for their environment.
It is as DCIG finalizes its research and prepares to release these reports that it inevitably notices certain new features being adopted by more products since the last time it formally updated its research on these products. Among these features, there are three specific features appearing on leading products that foreshadow what the next generation of these products will collectively look like.
- Scalable architectures. The products garnering a great deal of attention and disrupting traditional solutions are those that leverage scale-out architectures. While scale-out products such as hyperconverged infrastructure solutions are still finding their way in production environments, these solutions make a ton of sense in less visible, secondary use cases such as data protection. These solutions give organizations more flexibility to more easily scale capacity and performance, run test and dev VMs using backup data, and perform non-disruptive software upgrades while minimizing administrative overhead.
- Virtual appliances. One would have expected that virtual appliances would be more widely available and adopted due to the heavily virtualized infrastructures that already exist in many organizations. However, the unique capacity, processing and/or throughput requirements of backup software as well as deduplication software have slowed the adoption of virtual appliances to date. That said, as organizations accelerate their adoption of public and private cloud providers and create software defined data centers in their environments, the demand for vendors to deliver their software as a virtual appliance is certain to increase. While some providers already ship virtual appliances, expect the availability of data protection virtual appliances to become more widespread and vendors to make more noise about them going forward.
- Intuitive management interfaces. Enterprise products come with multiple product bells and whistles which inevitably means more knobs to turn and buttons to push. While all these features are a necessity on enterprise products, they also make them more complicated to manage. To counter this complexity, enterprise products are presenting administrators with customized, personalized interfaces based upon their logins. Once configured and/or these user login templates are put in place, administrators get the tailor-made views they need to manage their company’s environment or their portion of the company’s environment. Further, more products give organizations the options to create backup and recovery policies based upon business rules. Then as business rules change, the backup and recovery policies associated with them will also change dynamically.
These three features already appear on some products as vendors recognize the growing role that the cloud plays in both data management and data protection and start to deliver features that users will need to optimize the cloud. This current availability of features such as scalable architectures, virtual appliances, and more intuitive management interfaces reflects the next generation of challenges that the cloud presents and the new features that all these products will likely need to offer to address them.