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What to Look for in a Local Backup Solution

by Maggie Getova

What companies need from their backup application is simple: back up their local data quickly and securely, and recover it safely within their recovery objectives. However, achieving that goal is not nearly as simple as it would seem.

You need a local backup software solution that includes the cloud and four critical backup features: speed and performance, reliability, flexibility, and security. The combination of cloud and critical features lets you to stop treating backup like a Band-Aid, and start using it as a component of the business continuity strategy that it should be.

Cloud and the Four Critical Keys

Your backup solution needs to include the cloud for offsite backup and scalability. You can choose between private, public, and hybrid clouds; and between direct-to-cloud backup and local staging. Some backup platforms back up directly to the cloud, but offer local options for storing hot files, and some also replicate data and server images to create virtual hot sites in the cloud. For example, Zetta backs up directly to its own highly secure cloud with the option of local backup.


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In addition to cloud backup, there are four critical keys that businesses need for modern data protection.


#1. Speed and Performance

On-premise or off, backup performance is critical for observing backup windows and ensuring timely recovery. It’s especially important for direct-to-cloud backup, which must maintain backup and restore performance over the WAN.

Your platform needs to optimize data transfer speeds for large data sets as well as single files. (Efficiently backing up and restoring large data sets is a rare breed, and the ability to do it well is a key differentiator in a crowded backup marketplace.)

Start by only backing up what you need. Look for a backup solution whose advanced change detection only backs up data changes, and that compresses data before it enters the WAN. Next, look for a solution that accelerates data in the pipes including multi-threaded transport technology that sends your data over parallel threads. Finally, choose a provider who maintains the high scalability on the cloud side so your data does not bottleneck at ingestion.


#2. Reliability

    Recovery is all about 100% verifiable data restore within RTOs and RPOs. Let’s look at one of the more difficult backup and recovery types: large and complex media files. Backing up this type of file takes time and is prone to error. The right architecture for this sort of file type recursively travels files and folders to identify files and portions of the files that have changed. This type of platform efficiently captures full backup including the subfolders, subdirectories, and metadata. On the flipside, the recovery process should produce fully hydrated data.

    Accurate and verifiable backup is also important. One of the best approaches to this is continuous data validation plus advanced RAIN technology. For example, your backup platform could validate your data using strong cryptographic hashing: SHA1 at the file level and CRC at the chunk level. The validation feature continually monitors data writes, reads, and data at rest. Add redundancy with RAID-6 to encode data across separate disks, and RAIN-6 software to extend data encoding across separate computers. This protects entire systems and not just failed disks.


    #3. Flexibility

    Look for backup platforms that offer easy management and policy setting within a central console. Visualization and wizards help admins to easily define a default policy and additional policies for single systems or clusters.

    Policies should be simple enough to customize, and advanced enough to optimize. Storage retention policies include defining storage elements, setting data retention times, restore points, and so on. The platform should also allow admins to set additional policies for customized scheduling and data throttling.


    #4. Security

    Your backup solution should protect your data against harm both in-transit and at-rest. To secure data in transit, be sure that your backup platform provides data transfer encryption like SSL or Secure WebDav over HTTPS, and/or a secure tunnel like an IPsec VPN.

    Once your backup arrives at the cloud provider, it still needs protection against unauthorized provider access and network intruders. Do your due diligence with your provider to make certain that their data center facility is secure. Look for data centers with SAS70 Type II or SSAE-16 SOC 2 certifications. Data-at-rest encryption and intelligent key management will protect your data against light-fingered or careless employees, and anti-malware and intrusion detection will keep out digital thieves. Another feature to look for in your cloud provider is logical partitioning within the cloud backup service.


    Look for a local backup software solution that combines the scalability of the cloud with the four critical keys for optimizing backup and recovery. And unless you have headcount and budget to burn -- and these days, who does? -- add easy management and affordability to the mix. The result will give you the direction that you need to find the best platform possible for protecting your local data.

    Maggie Getova
    Maggie G

    Maggie is a content writer and editor at Zetta. She writes for the blog and manages web content.