By Bill Fields on December 7, 2016
In the early 1980s, my first job out of school was in IT. As the minion in the group, I had the thankless role of managing the tape backups, and I’m constantly amazed at how much data protection has changed. What used to take an entire day’s work is not only automated, it’s faster, more reliable and less expensive.
The function of backup was similar back then. The point was to create an extra copy of a file that you could use for a restore if something went wrong. But the restore process itself was completely different. When someone lost a file, you had to get the file and directory names from the user. Then you had to go to the tape library catalog to get the right disk, date and time. Finally, you had to find the tape, mount it up and get it to start spinning.
Only after all that would you – hopefully – find the file you were looking for and drop it back into the directory. And your efforts wouldn’t earn a “thank you” from your colleagues. Or not my case, anyway. Instead, they’d just shoot me disapproving stares when I left the office at 2 PM – unaware that I’d been there since the middle of the night managing backups.
Today? Well, first of all, you don’t have to get to work at 3 AM to manage data protection. That process is built in. Restores are so much easier, too. Imagine one of your colleagues is working on a spreadsheet. They’re desperate to get it to their boss on time. And then they accidentally delete the file. You know the drill. Panicked phone calls. Red-flagged emails. The world could very well come to an end if you don’t help the person recover that file. In the past, you might not have been able to save the day, since backup was a daily job. Even if you could find the right file, your desperate colleague would lose a day’s work.
Now everything has changed. All it takes is a few clicks. You don’t have to spin, catalog and ship tapes for data protection and recovery, and cloud storage is giving companies the chance to enjoy incredible RPOs and RTOs without eating up their budgets. At our client Hull & Associates, IT Help Desk Administrator Andre Butler says he used to need about two hours to close out the average ticket for a lost file. With Nasuni Enterprise File Services, he can restore recent versions of those files in a few minutes. The company also got rid of seven tape drives.
This is par for the course with our customers. SAS International, a U.K. manufacturer, retired four tape drives. As a former tape jockey, I can imagine that was satisfying for IT. But it’s also great for the business. SAS, for example, cut their data protection costs in half. Sure, there are still use cases for tape drives. But when it comes to file backups and restores, IT should never have to bother with tape management again.
Backup solutions play a critical role in data storage – providing the ability to recover data from an earlier time or after an unexpected data loss. In order for IT to effectively back up, protect and restore data, multiple components are required, including some combination of backup applications, disks and tapes. In the end, today’s best backup solutions still leave IT facing real challenges.
Bill Fields currently runs Nasuni’s Field Engineering Organization. He brings over 30 years of experience in the technology industry spanning roles from IT Operations, Professional Services and Support and Sales Engineering. Bill started in the data center and worked his way out to providing Training and Professional services all over the US. Prior to joining Nasuni, Bill held positions in OEM sales at Brocade Communications Systems and as Director of System Engineering for Emulex.