How to keep a tidy backup environment

amedee potier

Guest blog: Amedee Potier, Rocket Software.

Amedee Potier joined Rocket Software in 2003 and is currently Senior Director of R&D, where he oversees several Rocket products in the Data Protection space. His focus is on solutions for data protection and management in heterogeneous multi-vendor and multi-platform environments.

It’s a common complaint among the world’s IT and infrastructure directors… backup environments are becoming more challenging to manage!

Many might not be directly managing backup processes alone. However, many are being asked to accomplish more tasks with less support. So what does less support look like?

It looks like staff not being replaced. A shrinking IT budget. Growing service-level expectations. ROI-based business cases being created for purchased hardware – in spite of maxed out storage space.

That doesn’t sound very neat and tidy, does it?

Although most backup environments appear connected, on the inside it can be a different story. There are deep-rooted issues inside backup spheres that are seemingly destroying these environments. Even though one could argue that clients are part of the heart and soul of a backup environment, they can become the very “issues” mentioned above!

For example, backup environments begin to get chaotic when clients in your network consume valuable storage space. Processing cycles might be better if they were located someplace else.

Another example of clients becoming the “issue” is when they store redundant data that hasn’t been touched in ages. Even worse, there are clients that ought to be running and storing only partial backups. Instead, full backups are being performed. Just the thought of such things is headache inducing!

Administrators and directors alike are highly aware that these issues are alive and well within the IT world. The difficult task is trying to pinpoint them. This can be a huge challenge when multiple locations are being spanned and they are incorporating various data protection systems.

The best thing would be to get these clients to move their data into long-term storage spaces. Because the bottom line is that space must be freed up, to make the most out of existing storage clients. Naturally, these clients need be identified. But the question remains: how do you go about pinpointing them?

First, look at the ratio between the data being backed up, and the amount of data stored on the primary and backup storage drives.

Generally, you see a ratio of 1:2, which is typical for most companies. But you will likely see a few backup clients that exceed this ratio. These are the clients you want to focus on.

A ratio higher than 1:2 is likely to be the result of full backups being performed, and many versions being saved. The downside of searching out these clients is that it takes a lot of time! However, if you find yourself with enough time on your hands, you can narrow down your search. Reviewing the logs of each client to determine the time that the data was looked at. Do this and you will have more clarity as to which clients should be storing their data in long-term storage.

Again, all of this takes time. As a result, the clients that hogging the valuable space can easily go unnoticed.

So here’s the good news. There are products that help administrators seamlessly generate reports to find this information – instead of having to do it manually. What’s more, determining who these clients are is only part of the solution.

The next step is to decide where to put them.

Did you know that it’s not uncommon to see 100GB databases hogging terabytes of storage space? What a travesty! If this is something you see in your sphere, take heart.

Here are some things you can do to get that backup environment of yours in line and looking tidy in no time:

  • Ensure you are only backing up files that have changed by leveraging incremental backups
    This way, you can rest easy knowing you are not copying redundant data
  • Protect your environment from having the same data stored in various places by improving your de-duplication processes
    Keep in mind that redundancy isn’t always a bad thing, but it doesn’t benefit anyone to store several versions of the same data in a bunch of locations
  • Retaining data from one backup on a weekly basis, rather than daily
    This may make more sense in some cases. Remember to look at your compliance requirements, and the age of the data when determining if this is a good choice for your environment. In doing so, you will ultimately reduce the number of versions you have stored.

By following these steps, you can easily see who the clients are that might be hogging precious storage space. Being diligent in this regard will benefit not only you as the administrator, but also your CIO and your clients.

So, rest assured. With the help of the above information, you will have that tidy backup environment in no time!

Guest blog: Amedee Potier, Rocket Software.