Data explosion forcing IT to seek new backup tools

Managers must carefully consider the consequences of quickly switching vendors to get the right technology.

The need to control and secure a continuing explosion of data across the corporate world is forcing IT managers to constantly be on the lookout for new equipment that can handle perpetually evolving requirements.

According to analysts at Gartner, there appears to have been a significant increase in corporate users looking to replace their backup systems in recent months.

"I would say that in the last year and year and a half, we've seen a big jump," said Alan Dayley, an analyst at the research firm.

In a Gartner survey of 70 IT managers last month, 66 per cent of the respondents said that they're planning major redesigns of backup and recovery systems within 12 months, according to Dayley.

Meanwhile, in a survey of 395 IT managers by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), more than half of the respondents said that they have changed primary backup suppliers over the past three years.

Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst at the firm, noted that more and more IT managers are painfully realizing that their outdated or poorly-performing backup tools can't handle shrinking backup windows and the complex management needs of their ever-growing data stores.

Many companies are looking to quickly install products that offer relatively new features such as data de-duplication and the ability to perform incremental and continuous snapshots of virtual disks.

At the same time, some companies are in a rush to include updates of storage systems in major IT projects like data center consolidations, application and infrastructure upgrades, and server virtualization efforts.

"I liken it to building an addition to your house; you're not going to take an old light fixture and put it in a new room," noted Whitehouse. "There are special conditions with an overhauled [IT] environment, and you have to look for a backup solution that is tuned for it."

Prior to moving to a new backup software vendor, IT managers must make sure that processes are in place to protect data before, during and after a migration. They must also analyze how switching storage vendors would affect corporate operations such as real-time business transactions, service-level agreements and compliance efforts.

And once a new backup system is installed, IT managers should evaluate it at least once a year to be sure that it is keeping up with data growth and security needs.

Dave McEldowney, division vice president of IT at Bar-S Foods, said the meat processor and distributor evaluated the security risks before deciding to replace its Galaxy backup software from CommVault Systems last year.

He said the company determined that the benefits of changing vendors outweighed the risks because of problems with the product -- which Bar-S had used since 2000 -- and with its vendor.

Bar-S turned to Symantec's Backup Exec 11d software after Galaxy failed an average of six times per year and because nearly half of the data backed up could not be restored.

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Brian Fonseca

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