September 8, 2016
Frank Barker is the CEO at Bacula Systems, a leading enterprise network backup and restore software company, combining Bacula's enterprise-class open standards software with first-class support and professional services.
Here, Frank shares his insight on the critical nature of network backup and strategies for ensuring your company's data is protected. Read on:
Why is network backup so critical to companies today?
Data backup and recovery has to be considered business-critical. Anyone who has suffered data loss knows that there is no question about it. Without the means of correct data recovery, a company is putting itself at extreme risk - possibly a catastrophic failure of its services, and even bankruptcy.
Since most computers today are interconnected, network-based backup solutions offer the most convenient way to do backup. Everything can be managed in a central place, and automation and a careful design make modern backup easy to handle and robust. After initial configuration, only a minimal amount of adjustment is necessary. A well designed and configured backup software works in the background without you ever noticing it.
How has network backup evolved since you started your career?
While the mechanisms have stayed the same (transfer data over the network to one or more backup locations, and/or to tape to be carried offsite) the amount of data has grown exponentially. Additional new developments have included the rise of virtualization over the years (backup of virtual machine containers and restore of single files), software defined datacenters, deduplication techniques to save storage space and most recently, the cloud as a storage target outside the data center private network.
Where should businesses begin when developing a strategy for backing up their networks?
The most important step is the design phase in the beginning: This starts with a definition of the backup windows (probably running during the night), and an estimation of data size and its growth. Then comes the organization of machine classes and pools, and decisions on policies, such as "How long do we want to keep backups?". There needs to be a clear offsite strategy and careful consideration on what type of backup media should be used (disks and/or tape are the most common media used). Finally, choosing the right software makes a big difference, and that's where a company such as Bacula System comes in.
How often should they revisit their backup strategies?
At least once a year to re-evaluate data growth and any architectural changes.
What are the most common mistakes you see companies making in regards to their backup and restoration plans?
The single, No. 1 folly many data centers make is choosing a software vendor that charges them by data volume. As the customers data grows, he or she can end up paying an extortionate price to the vendor. Those companies need to find an alternative.
Similarly, we often find inadequate, legacy software that is not up to the task in hand. On the day-to-day level, we sometimes see little or no monitoring of basic backup functions, such as successful or failed jobs, levels of disk/tape usage, etc. On the technical side, failing to perform regular tests of restores and disaster scenarios is a common shortcoming. Finally, incorrect sizing of disk space happens a lot, so we take care of our customers to make sure they get it just right.
What advice do you find yourself repeating over and over to clients?
Two things: Find a solution that does not charge you by data volume - and prepare for worst cases and do a disaster scenario simulation once a year.
What are the biggest trends in network backup and software restoration that you're following?
Cloud-based backup, virtualization, automation and storage savings.
What innovations in your field are you most excited about?
Multi-backup strategies to physical, virtual and Cloud destinations are our key passions. These combined with the evolution of the cloud towards a more utility-like solution. Our products are scalable and architected to anticipate and follow these trends and we are excited to play an important role in them. But more importantly than that are the special technical innovations that we provide to our customers that give them a competitive advantage. Ultimately, it is about a winning combination of new technology, together with good, old-fashioned customer care.