In today’s enterprises, tremendous amounts of business-critical data are held in network-attached storage (NAS). Enterprise NAS systems are designed for high performance, capacity, and scalability, and they typically ship with native data protection features. But when it comes to data backup, enterprise NAS is a whole different animal from NAS solutions designed for smaller operations.
Let’s take a look at some of those differences, the backup challenges, and a few best practices for enterprise NAS backup.
How is enterprise NAS backup different?
One of the biggest differences between SMB and enterprise NAS backup is the sheer variety of data types.
For large, complex, enterprise environments, NAS isn’t just about home directories and department shares; it also includes application data: logs, shared content, integration data, application binaries, and configuration files. Also, enterprise NAS systems typically house an organization’s most essential data – media assets for a television or cinema production or postproduction company, for instance, or critical engineering data, research results, analytical outcomes, financial records, or medical records.
Often, the data is highly sensitive: credit card numbers, social security numbers, patient information protected by privacy laws. And yet another big consideration is the sheer volume of data, often numbering in the petabytes and representing billions of files.
Enterprise NAS backup customers are facing key challenges
Many large enterprises are running a variety of NAS systems, each purpose-built to handle a specific production workload. When these systems outgrow the current backup scheme, enterprises often resort to creating silos that replicate data between multiple locations in order to protect the data from loss. Not only is that approach very expensive, but it can be difficult to restore the data or migrate it to a different tier or class of storage.
If there’s an issue with replicating data to that secondary target, the data can be damaged or lost. Plus, restoring data stored off site can take days or even weeks in the event of a disaster.
Two commonly used options for enterprise NAS backup, NDMP and replication, are less than ideal:
- NDMP is a very slow, single-threaded scheme that often requires an FC network to accomplish the backup and often results in massive amounts of data being stored for backups.
- Replication is expensive and proprietary, relying on tools and solutions created by the primary storage vendor and therefore locking the customer out of other storage and recovery options.
Given all this, what are the most important practices for enterprise NAS data protection and backup, and how do companies deploy these practices?
- First and foremost, it’s important to understand your recovery needs. For example, will you need to recover at another location with different infrastructure or will you need to do individual object recoveries?
- Consider the state of the data once it’s backed up – can it be recovered to any other device besides the one created by the incumbent storage provider? Can you move data around in your organization and make it available if you are transferring your workload to another datacenter or out to public cloud?
- Do you really need all of that data residing on primary storage? Can some or most of it be archived away to be used later if needed?
Your backup solution must be built on high efficiency
What characteristics are desirable in an enterprise NAS backup solution? When the software initiates a full backup, instead of repeatedly backing up the same data, the system only backs up new data – the unchanged NAS data that was already backed up is not backed up again. Enterprises can apply policies to govern this process; for instance, stipulating that data that has not been modified in at least a year should be retained for long term storage to the backup device. Once this is completed you can delete this data and have it available for restore in the event you need it again.
Efficient compression and deduplication capabilities are also important in an enterprise NAS backup solution, since there is typically a large quantity of redundant and compressible data content.
At Cobalt Iron, we thought long and hard on these challenges and requirements when we developed Compass®, a new and modern backup approach that saves time and money. Compass was built from day one to meet the unique requirements of large complex environments, including enterprise NAS backup. It efficiently backs up and restores NAS systems with billions of files using the NAS Agent, our advanced NAS proxy technology that enables fast, unified protection of NAS data.
Don’t make an expensive mistake with your NAS data protection. Choose a solution that delivers best practices and saves you money. To learn more about Compass, download our NAS data sheet.
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