The Cloud, Not Deduplication Alone, Will Lead To The Demise Of Tape

Stephaniebalaouras Friday, Iron Mountain and Microsoft announced a new partnership. Customers of Microsoft's backup offering, Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 service pack 1, can electronically vault redundant copies of their data to Iron Mountain's CloudRecovery service. This is welcomed news for DPM customers. Customers will continue to backup locally to disk for instant restore but rather than vault data to tape and physically transport tape to an offsite storage service provider, customers will vault data over the Internet to Iron Mountain. For disaster recovery purposes and long-term retention services, you need this redundant copy of your data offsite. By eliminating the physical tape transport you eliminate the risk of lost or stolen tapes or the need to deploy some kind of tape encryption solution. Microsoft DPM hasn't taken the backup world by storm since its introduction in 2005, but each subsequent release has added critical features and application support. Additionally, because it is often bundled in with Microsoft System Center, I expect adoption will increase among small and medium businesses (SMBs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

There are dozens of online backup services and new ones emerge everyday. I took the time note the Microsoft and Iron Mountain announcement because I think it's one example of a many partnerships to come between a commercial backup application vendor and a cloud storage service provider. Other examples include partnerships such as Zmanda and Amazon S3. Symantec has built its own "cloud" with Symantec Protection Network (SPN) and existing Symnatec Backup Exec customers can vault their data to SPN. Whether it's partnerships between commercial backup vendors and cloud storage service providers or vendors that build their own cloud storage target, these partnerships will help you eliminate physical tape.

Deduplication in backup software and disk targets such as VTLs has helped customers reduce their reliance on tape and for companies that have less data and shorter retention periods, to eliminiat tape. But deduplication didn't bring about the demise of tape as quickly as many thought. First, while dedupe certainly reduces the capital acquisition cost of disk (because you need far less disk), it's not removable so you still need some way of getting the data offsite, and that means you have to buy two disk systems, locate them at different sites, buy a license for replication, and potentially increase your bandwidth between sites. Not to mention, that until MAID (massive array of idle disks) technology becomes mainstream, spinning disk consumes a lot more power than tapes sitting on a shelf.

But now combine cloud storage with deduplication, and a far greater number of SMBs and SMEs can eliminate tape. Cloud storage services such as Iron Mountain's CloudRecovery service gives customers their alternate site and remote disk target without the capital investment in a second site and system and deduplication greatly reduces the capital acquisition cost of the local disk but also the bandwidth required to transmit the data. And of course, with the data offsite, not on your premise, it reduces your power and cooling costs and the footprint for backup infrastructure.

I'm interested in your feedback. Do you have any secruity concerns with online backup and cloud storage services? What are your adoptions plans for these types of services? Are you seriously considering them today or is your organization not quite comfortable with the idea?

By Stephanie Balaouras

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re: The Cloud, Not Deduplication Alone, Will Lead To The Demise

I certainly wouldn't discredit traditional backup, but I do think there are some differences.Having on site traditional backup is a great idea, but most people don't take the time to back up their files like they should. Also, on site backup is no good in the event of a fire, flood or othernatural disaster (tornado, hurricane, etc). In a theft, an external drive can be stolen just as easily as a laptop or desktop.Therefore, online backup gives you the added protection of storing your files off-site. Those who take the time to use traditional backup can get an extra layer of protection with online backup. For those who don't bother to take the time to use traditional backup methods, at least online backup will do it automatically for them.For online backup and data storage info, I read daily. This site has good articles, reviews,interviews and up to date news.

re: The Cloud, Not Deduplication Alone, Will Lead To The Demise

I look for more than just backup from my online storage (or cloud storage provider as a trendier term). I want file sharing, especially private file sharing, where I can control who can view my online files. My friends turned me on to I have been very happy with their service, and like how I can connect in my friends.

re: The Cloud, Not Deduplication Alone, Will Lead To The Demise

Stephanie,Most of the deduplication being done today is at the end of the data lifecycle, at a VTL layer replacing tape. In my opinion, this is too late, and too little value is being saved. Data needs to be written to a deduplicated data store as soon as possible -- either immediately after being created or, if it has very high performance requirements, as soon as it can be moved off of costly primary storage.Look at it this way; right now data is being written to primary storage at $30 to $50/GB, and then backed up at an aggregate total cost of maybe $5 to $10/GB more. VTL can shave a few dollars off this, at best.Instead, much of that data can be moved to an archive tier at $3 to $5/GB, and with an effective cost even lower with deduplication. Effective replication can eliminate the need for backup entirely. This path saves much more money, but isn't as seamlessly drop-in at VTL for tape. With economic pressures, any business would be remiss not to look at deploying an effective archive tier.Cloud storage services can then host deduplicated replica storage; I think you'll see competitors to Iron Mountain move into this space soon. Instead of trying to innovate both product (a cloud storage service) and business model, why not first take advantage of existing, mature technology? Trying to do both at once is doubly challenging.At Permabit we've developed our Enterprise Archive product specifically to serve these needs, and believe we have developed the only truly scalable deduplication solution for archive data, while also providing levels of data protection far beyond what is available with RAID. I talk a little more about the underlying economics over at my blog in the article at FloydCTO, Permabit