Can removable disk technology supersede tape, fixed disk and hybrid solutions?

Today insurance companies are refusing to cover corporate IT security breaches in their insurance policies so its clear they recognize a growing risk and are now passing that responsibility to you.

There are many ways to protect your data and at the forefront you may have security software aiming to prevent any malicious attacks from the outside world. Unfortunately as we hear only too often software can be compromised which is why we see release upon release of software updates with the aim to keep ahead of the hackers. The problem is that software protection is only good up to a point, and that point is where the outside world gains a foot hold which is one step ahead of the security experts.

Your last line of defense is and will always be governed by the physical world and in the case of data security your backup hardware. Its true that data backup isnt exactly new but the fundamental technologies that build up your backup processes are changing to make it easier, simpler and more affordable while ensuring your data makes it through each and every day.

To protect and to save the function war

Today behind all the brochures, sales people and press releases is a forever changing field of technologies that service backup, recovery and archiving and a large proportion of the storage industry is facing what seems to be the final chapter in a format/function war thats particularly apparent within the low to mid range segment.

This function war is between hard disk and tape and although some companies have been promoting these as complementary technologies this is only a temporary arrangement that will soon subside once hard disks catch up with the capacity and costs of tape, something thats already starting to happen today.

Within the Tape market there are multiple formats fighting to win the top slot and slowly we see particular formats being massaged into pole position. To date LTO is looking like the strongest contender however this position is supported by new sales only and the proof will be to see what the large install base of older DLT users do when they reach their next upgrade cycle. Will they remain with DLT or jump ship to LTO? Since Quantums acquisition of Certance which accompanies the competing LTO format business its possible that the fight between Quantums own DLT technology against the conglomerate of IBM, Certance and HP might be less emotionally driven then before.

The old new kid on the block

Storage formats such as tape have enjoyed year upon year of being in pole position as the format of choice for secondary backup and its been only recently that hard disk technology has reared its head and offered to take the aging media format head on. So as a user and purchaser of storage equipment you might ask yourself what the big deal is with hard disk technology when youve already got tape for backup.

Commercially its simple, hard disk companies would like to expand their markets into the final areas of data storage which is backup and archiving and today theyre packing some serous advantages over traditional tape solutions which will hopefully win you over in the end. Its this fresh view of storage thats delivering a more realistic approach to data security by removing many of the usage restraints of tape technology that have prevented fluid data security due to slow access times and high maintenance.

These advantages are:-

- Faster backup and recovery
- Instant failover to maintain constant availability of your data
-I mproved reliability
- Less maintenance - no more need to clean your tape drives
- Random access for single files
- Lower costs

In addition software companies have realized huge potential in the disk market to design and promote specific software features that maximize the use of disk backup.

Like tape, but more like disk

The tape usage model has built its own habits and methods to the IT managers daily duty of securing security. Rotation, off-site security, cleaning and replacement of worn out media have become part of the process and in some ways a labour of love.

One fundamental challenge for hard disk technology is to prove its ability to provide cost effective off-site security, something of a hardship for a fixed disk technology. Unlike tape, disk technologies are traditionally not as removable as tape cartridges and have to be handled carefully due to the drive mechanics being transported with the media. Off-site security using removable hard disks might actually require strong arms or even a shopping trolley to drag disk systems out of the office each night which is probably not the best use of resources.

If disk based backup suppliers are to successfully promote their solutions to customers they first prove their ability to provide off-site security and the ability to archive, two fundamental requirements to any data security and migration process and if not achieved can shadow any advantages of using disk backup technology over tape.

Today disk can achieve this in 3 ways.

- Remote site Replication
- 3 stage backup through the addition of tape to provide remove-ability
- Removable disk technology

By looking at these independently we can shine some light on what the drivers in storage development are and what is actually available to businesses based on their company type and budget.

Remote site replication

Remote site replication is an attractive option as it can be deployed in a way that removes the need to take data cartridges off-site each night for remote security, however this method is not only reliant on your business having more than one office location, a large budget but its also reliant on you growing your disk capacity regularly to support data no longer being migrated to removable low cost media.

The setup and acquisition costs of a full disk-to-disk (D2D) backup and recovery solution with remote replication far surpass the cost of deploying a solution based on removable media due to 2 key additional expense areas:

- Deployment of a high speed data link between offices
- Increased storage expenditure

Firstly deploying a backup replication solution between two separate locations requires the purchase or rental of high speed data links between office locations that are fast enough to support the required backup window time. Even todays highest broadband connections are too slow to provide you with enough speed to backup and recover quickly in a time of need therefore a high performance link is needed that matches your speed requirements but unfortunately this does not always match your budget ability.

Ensuring your company has levels of redundancy in place thats similar to whats provided by removable media means that storage capacity must be increased regularly. This increase in storage supports the multiple data sets usually delivered by removable media rotation schemes.

As an example, if your company policy it to keep a rotation scheme for 5 days, you will need at minimum 5 times the amount of secondary hard disk storage and here you see where the costs can start mounting up.

Finally the financial and hardware challenge can continue with the need to archive data. A pure D2D solution doesnt provide the ability to move data off-line. Archiving data onto a removable media platform can not only be less budget intensive due to lower primary storage costs but its also easier to maintain as data stored on a cartridge requires little maintenance compared to online storage. The ability to free-up valuable primary storage space by archiving old data can also help keep your backup window within a manageable amount. Its for this very reason we see hybrid solutions being offered today that allow you to first send data to a disk storage device for performance gains and then to a tape device to archive. This 3-stage backup solution is being promoted as a disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) solution.

3 stage solutions disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T)

This solution meets the demands of both high performance backup and the ability to take data off-site, which is one of the more complex choices for companies that have a single location but require both high performance backup and a 3rd layer of hardware to provide off-site security and archiving ability.

The relegation of tape an overpaid player

Its odd to think that traditionally tape had the value of being both a backup device and a platform to produce off-site security and archiving, but today tape has been demoted to just providing the functionality of remove-ability. The question is does this technology deserve all the high care, high price tag and management attention if its only function is to provide remove-ability.

For the most part tape is having a positioning makeover by the manufacturers to ensure its long term justification. If its only function is to provide remove-ability and archiving, how long exactly is it until disk technology can provide that very function and help dispense with tape altogether?

A new era

Removable disk technology

Before we move into details of removable disks it would be wise to first look at tape and disk technology in the most simplistic way.

If the only benefit of choosing disk technology over tape is to improve performance and reliability and conversely the reason for choosing tape technology over disk is simply because of remove-ability then why not provide a disk technology thats removable?

Enter REV

This is just what Iomega have done with REV disk technology, an advancement of hard disk technology that uses removable instead of fixed disks that provide both high disk-to-disk performances along with the remove-ability of tape.

For many years the natural method was to have primary storage and secondary storage. Primary storage was for online data and Secondary storage for backup, recovery and archiving. Now with the introduction of REV technology business can once again enjoy the economics of low cost media and the ability to archive data away from the primary storage in a simplistic and more traditional 2-stage backup process.

Disk-to-removable-disk (D2RD) technology is both more affordable and easier to manage than either disk-to-disk (D2D) or indeed disk-to-disk-to-tape solutions (D2D2T).

Iomegas challenge is to keep the capacities growing on REV to remain within the key capacity points of small and medium businesses, something thats both on the roadmap for future products and immediately supported today by the REV 10 cartridge autoloader which provides up to 700GBs of high performance backup, recovery and data archiving.

2004 was the year Iomega launched high capacity removable hard disk media under the name of REV and by 2005 Iomega had already shipped over half a million pieces of media to customers using REV drives and Autoloaders.

In direct replacement to todays overly complex hardware and high expenditure requirements being promoted to protect your data, Iomega believe REV takes a fundamental step forward in making backup easier, more reliable and higher performing than any of todays competing choices.

Heath check - Security you must have for your network data

1.Protect against the outside world

Should hackers manage to navigate their way through your layers of protection and cause data loss, you need a physical copy of your data from which you can restore from. If the attack happened days earlier its likely you will need to revert to earlier backups therefore having a backup rotation scheme in place can provide you with multiple data sets from which to restore from. The Iomega REV Autoloader is capable of holding 10 REV disks full of data which can equate to either 10 days or even 10 weeks of data sets. Because Iomega have removed the need to clean your drives the 10th slot is no longer occupied by a tape cleaning cartridge and is therefore made available to a 10th REV disk which could be just the one that saves your company.

2.Protect against hardware and software failure

Data failure remains to be a real world challenge, particularly with primary storage. The very fact that data needs to regularly accessed, changed or moved exposes it to high usage risks of both hardware and software failure which could potentially lead to data loss. Secondary storage was introduced to provide an extra later of security should your primary data set fail. However having just a copy isnt the only consideration you should have because when a data loss occurs you need the data back fast. The Iomega REV enables you to retrieve your data quickly and effortlessly by using the highest performing storage technology available today disk.

3.Protect against human failure

While automation can provide you with daily backups by using one cartridge per day another option is aggregated backup automation which enables all slots to work together as one location. The REV Autoloader 1000 has 10 slots capable of working as one aggregated backup and restore device. This choice of storage method eliminates the need for users to manually change cartridges when backup capacity reaches or surpasses the single cartridge capacity. Compared to stand alone drives automation doesnt rely on manual intervention, a responsibility thats often passed to what can sometimes be an unreliable security guard.

As 98% of backup errors are caused by human intervention its best to keep these to a minimum and choose automated disk technology.

As an alternative to tape, hard disk, optical and other storage solutions, the Iomega REV Autoloader and removable disks delivers state-of-the-art server and network security through an all in one backup, archiving and recovery unit.

REV removable disk technology keeps your data safe and secure right from the day it was created therefore should you like so many companies today be unfortunate enough to experience even the slightest loss of data, you can be rest assured that youll neither be down or out with Iomega REV disk technology.

Iomega are exhibiting at Storage Expo the UK's largest and most important event dedicated to data storage, now in its 5th year, the show features a comprehensive FREE education programme, and over 90 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 12 - 13 October 2005

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