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Conquering the next big challenge – data at the edge

It’s time to modernise your back-up approach for ROBO and end-point data with a single platform, says Allen Mitchell, Senior Technical Account Manager, MENA, CommVault Systems.

With more and more critical data residing at the edge of the enterprise in remote or branch offices (ROBOs) and on client systems, the ability to reliably protect and quickly recover this data has become more critical to business continuity and end-user productivity.

In addition, an increasingly mobile workforce is creating and sharing more data outside the traditional control of those primarily tasked with protecting it. If organisations are not able to efficiently and effectively address these challenges, they face significant business risk associated with losing or having to recreate unprotected edge data, not knowing what data exists in an environment and not being able to find it in association with a lawsuit or compliance requirement.

Protecting and recovering data at remote sites and at end-points using legacy technologies can consume scarce resources, require expertise that often isn’t present, and is prone to failure. In addition, these isolated systems can be expensive to deploy and manage. In the case of a site-level disaster – such as natural disasters, human error, viruses, and security breaches – organisations need to have a copy of important data stored safely, far away from the remote office that holds the original copy, but that is still easily and rapidly accessible. Without a centralised strategy, organisations are at risk for lost data, which can result in reduced operational capability and employee productivity as well as a range of other business consequences.

ROBOs and end users present a range of data management challenges
Data outside the data centre is often just as critical to the success of your organisation as that residing within it. Yet this data is often unreliably protected due to insufficient network bandwidth, a lack of trained IT staff at remote sites and the high cost associated with managing distributed multi-platform environments.

As the volume of data created and stored at the edge of the enterprise continues to grow, legacy data protection and management tools have become less capable of easily protecting it and ensuring business continuity. The data management burden on staff members at remote sites, who often are not IT professionals, is significant and continues to grow along with the data. Expecting end users to perform their own back-ups puts data at risk and limits your visibility into what data is in your environment. In addition, if you don’t have an easy-to-use way for end users to recover their own data from a centralised protection plan, then the IT staff will easily become overburdened performing requests to find files for them.

Downtime, effort spent re-creating assets and data loss – the consequences of unprotected and/or unrecoverable data – are costly. Whether you are taking busy production systems offline for back-up or in order to recover data, downtime can significantly impact your organisation’s mission or your company’s revenue, worker productivity and customer satisfaction. In the event of a temporary outage, a disaster or application data corruption, it becomes critical to access a more recent copy of your data than last night’s or last week’s back-up. You must be able to quickly recover specific files or to specific points in time so you can prevent data loss or roll back from corruption. It’s time to modernise your back-up approach for ROBO and end-point data with a single platform. A platform that replaces out-dated legacy back-up products that have not kept pace with today’s growing data centre business challenges and contributed to management complexity, skyrocketing costs and put vulnerable data at risk.

The problem with extending the traditional back-up strategy used in a data centre to ROBOs and end-point data is that it is not cost-effective to deploy at each remote site. Traditional strategies require additional back-up software and hardware that is expensive to purchase and maintain. They also require technical resources not readily available at remote sites. Instead, many organisations use local tape to back up data at remote or branch offices. But this approach requires a significant amount of effort and administration. For example, when tapes are sent off-site, security becomes an issue – reports of data tapes lost in transit or delivered to the wrong client are not uncommon. For organisations that don’t use tape and instead send large back-ups over the wire from remote locations to a central data centre, a lack of sufficient network bandwidth becomes the issue. Finally, other methods, like using disparate, point appliances or localised disk and replication, are not ideal because they add cost and complexity if they are not part of a unified solution for managing data across the enterprise.

Finding an efficient protection solution for distributed data becomes pressing for organisations under a number of circumstances. For example, they may need to centralise and consolidate operations because they lack the resources to reliably protect and recover data locally at remote sites or across their desktops and laptops. In another case, they may want to implement a cost-effective disaster recovery strategy that leverages remote sites or virtual environments. This can entail efficiently distributing copies of back-up data on disk at another site in order to improve RTO/RPO by maintaining a current copy of data to enable fast-yet-granular recovery to specific points in time. In both cases, they want to be able to take advantage of technologies that can reduce WAN bandwidth requirements because for many organisations the ability to centrally protect data is inhibited by limited network resources.

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