The Ultimate Mix: Is Your Data Protection Strategy Future-Proof?

A hybrid data protection strategy allows you to leverage the best qualities of tape, disk and cloud to create an economical, custom-made solution. Consider this trio of reasons for creating a mix-and-match data protection strategy.

Imagine if all you had in your toolbox was a wrench. You might be ready to fix a leaky pipe, but if you needed to cut a two-by-four in half, you'd be out of luck.

Using the right tool for the job—it's just common sense. But when it concerns your data, that adage is easier said than done. Many organizations treat their data management infrastructure as if it were a one-size-fits-all tool that will work for all tasks. But a mismatch between data protection needs and technologies can lead to big inefficiencies. And in the worst-case scenarios, it could mean lost data or days-long recovery times that cost your organization cold, hard cash.

All that said, might it be time for a strategy review? The best data protection plan for your organization is likely a hybrid approach that uses disk, tape and cloud-based storage to meet all your different goals.

Consider this trio of reasons for creating a mix-and-match data protection solution.

Reason #1: For speed, disk backup is the most attractive choice.

Disk's performance profile is unmatched—this technology offers close to real-time enterprise data protection. That's key for minimizing the amount of data loss that occurs during an outage. Some organizations have even moved to disk-based systems for full data backups, as they attempt to shrink backup and restore windows.

Reason #2: Disk can't really replace tape, because data growth has become so massive.

If the total amount of data your enterprise needs to maintain stays the same from month to month, a completely disk-based backup and recovery could be a defensible choice. Of course, that's not the case with most businesses, which are generating a growing tide of data that must, in some cases, be reliably stored for years.

On a per-byte basis, tape still rules—in fact, the average disk-based storage solution has 26 times the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the average tape-based solution, according to a May 2013 Clipper Group study. Tape also has the leg up on longevity: Cartridges should last for 20 years or longer, especially if they're protected in the ideal environmental conditions of offsite tape storage. That's more than four times than what's typical for spinning disk. (Those disks must also remain constantly powered to maintain their data integrity.)

Reason #3: The cloud has its pros and cons, too.

A relative newcomer to the data protection party, cloud backup offers benefits that include pay-as-you-go pricing, ubiquitous access and the ability to scale up quickly as needed. But because you access the cloud remotely, you may not be able to meet recovery time objectives if you must restore a large amount of data quickly. In addition, your organization may be required to comply with regulatory requirements about how and where data must be handled. In that case, a generic cloud storage service may not cut the mustard.

Iron Mountain Recommends: Find a Safe Home for Your Legacy Tapes

Even all-time sports greats have to retire someday. When it comes to storage, you may have gigabytes of information on older tape backup systems stretching back for years, but that doesn't mean you have to keep those players in your rotation if they don't support day-to-day backups.

The Iron Mountain® Archival Tape Management™ solution lets you:

  • Store and retrieve archival tapes at any time, without the cost and complexity of maintaining legacy backup systems
  • Protect critical data assets in a highly secure and environmentally controlled offsite data storage facility
  • Access a single view of your backup catalog data, even across heterogeneous tape backup formats

It might seem simpler or more convenient to stick to one data protection type. But you may find the best fit is a well-rounded plan that plays to the strengths of disk, tape and cloud. Think of it this way: You can't hammer your way out of every sticky situation.

Do you have questions about data management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Data Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.


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