Consolidating the various disk and tape resources is merely step one and brings a powerful band-aide to the problem. The next step is to just get better control of the protection process. This can be done in one of two ways. Fundamentally changing how the backup process works or insert specific policies and procedures to better manage and maintain service levels within the current process.
Fundamental change is going to have to come from the current move away from traditional file by file copy method and more to the disk based image level backups. While these have become especially popular in virtualized environments, stand alone systems are now being included either by temporarily treating that stand alone system as a virtualized server or by direct block level backup support of the stand alone system. In a way, these systems can be thought of as the ultimate use of disk because they depend on a device that is random access in nature. This does not mean tape is dead though. Several of these solutions are supporting tape, or you can again use backup virtualization to perform that integration.
Better control is going to come from the increased use of tools that can provide a realtime view into the goings on of the backup process. These solutions allow for service levels to be set and maintained as well as data to be managed. Gaining control of the process and the data that process is designed to protect is really the long term solution.
Disk backups can help and may be the most viable quick fix to a backup problem. Looking further down the road though by consolidating backup targets and instituting backup SLAs and processes may have a greater return on investment.
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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.