Salvation Army updates backup procedures
The Salvation Army branch working out of the Southern Territory of Australia recently announced an overhaul of its data center infrastructure in an effort to improve data backup processes. The procedure includes a considerable investment in offsite tape vaulting as a vital part of the solution, Computerworld reported.
The large-scale switch includes changes in the Salvation Army's data center setups, offices and other infrastructure. However, it also features an adjustment to backup and recovery processes that clearly displays the current climate of the recovery sector. According to the news source, the Salvation Army had previously been using daily tape backups to support its disaster recovery needs. However, networking limitations and a rapid rise in the amount of data being handled by the organization combined to make the backup process too time consuming, often beginning at 8 in the evening and taking until as late as 11 the next morning.
When backup cuts into the work time the next day, there is a problem with the system. In response, the Salvation Army implemented a new system that uses a variety of advanced data center technologies to deal with daily backup requirements. However, the company still turns to tape in the end, using the technology for a weekly backup that is used to maintain an archive of company data.
This arrangement showcases the current role of tape in the data backup sector, as the technology may have aged to the point that it is no longer ideal for rapid backup and recovery requirements. However, it still clearly offers a level of reliability that cannot be matched by other technologies, making it the the ideal tool for any long-term archiving efforts within a backup strategy.
Tape storage offers a key advantage over both disk and cloud-based systems when it comes to backing up data for an extended period of time - efficiency. Getting a disk to spin is expensive. Sustaining an array of servers with constantly spinning hard disk drives just to back up data is cost-prohibitive for many companies. At the same time, cloud backup requires organizations to manage complex service level agreements and rent space in servers dealing with the same inefficiencies of disk-based storage, limiting the technology's effectiveness. Issues of vendor lock-in and a lack of standardization also make the cloud a far from ideal option for files that will be backed up for a long time.
However, tape storage only requires enough energy to get the cassette's inner gears spinning fast enough to write data onto the magnetic tape. The power needs are minimal, in other words. Furthermore, tapes do not need to be kept in servers spinning all the time; they can be stowed away and recovered when needed, reducing the ongoing energy costs of backup. Essentially, the energy efficiency provided by tape is so great that it also cuts costs.
It also makes tapes extremely reliable. Disks are faulty over time. Give them a few years and they tend to fail. The myriad moving parts and consistent electric charge create a recipe for failure. The cloud has potential when it comes to reliability, but is fairly unproven. Furthermore, if your business gets stuck with the wrong vendor, you could find your cloud systems unavailable at the time of a disaster. You may also lose ownership of the information if you choose to switch providers. Tape may be somewhat slow, as you have to physically transfer the media to your facility, but cassettes rarely fail and are not particularly prone to electronic or mechanical failure, making the technology ideal for long-term backup needs.