Data Protection – It’s Time To Get Application Aware

The term “data protection” was coined in an era when protecting and recovering data in its raw form was good enough for most businesses. As long as backup software could guarantee your data was safe and recoverable, people didn’t worry too much about how long it might take to reinstall and rebuild the underlying applications.

Today, that just doesn’t cut it.
We are in an age where data is growing exponentially to support business models that power the applications on which companies now run. To keep pace with the paradigm shift, backup needs to be more intelligent and application aware.

Applications “behave” in unique ways. Backup solutions need to be intrinsically aware of these behaviours and traits to enable granular recovery, such as an individual record from a database.

For example, applications such as Oracle or MS Exchange have specialised formats. Backup solutions need to “understand” these formats in order to ensure the data is captured in an application consistent manner. Not doing so risks recoverability.

Also, by understanding the unique dynamics of each application, backup costs and resources are controlled and made more efficient.

For most organisations, the proliferation of new business apps now co-exists with traditional legacy applications. Cloud, mobile and SaaS applications get absorbed into companies very quickly and there is an expectation that the backup solution will cope. These new apps reside in a software-defined world, and as such, application aware backup solutions need to have deep virtualisation integration to guarantee consistent and recoverable backups of these hypervisor- and cloud-based workloads.

For these modern apps, application aware means keeping consistency across the entire stack. A single workload can potentially span GUIs, web servers, databases and object stores, all running across multiple virtual machines at the hypervisor layer. Modern application aware solutions understand the dynamics between all the elements in these stacks.

All of this creates an enormous challenge for traditional data protection approaches. With so much of modern business dependent on applications, all data needs to be protected in a way which preserves application integrity ensuring that both data AND applications can be recovered at pace. What any experienced backup practitioner knows is that the legacy backup solutions just can’t meet this new bar.

The only way to meet these requirements is to deploy a modern, application aware data protection solution.
Commvault is a company that has consistently pioneered application aware backup and data management. That leadership and innovation have continued into the cloud era. In addition to modernising its application aware data protection technology, Commvault has developed some incisive best practices to help companies meet the data protection challenges of today's application-centric computing environments.

  • Understand – It’s no longer enough to backup and restore data in a vacuum. Solutions need to understand the unique attributes and requirements of every application. Costs and resources need to be controlled on an application-by-application basis, and recovery needs to be simple and painless.

  • Retire the Old – Many backup solutions have been cobbled together utilising point solutions and even scripts that do not “communicate” with each other and require complex management. A modern, application aware solution should provide a single integrated system to control and manage all your applications.

  • Don’t Exceed the Backup Window – As data grows, it does so in specialist application-specific formats. This makes it increasingly difficult to get the backups done within the backup window. Modern, application aware solutions increase backup rates.

  • Use Deduplication – Legacy backup technologies often create multiple redundant copies of application data. This wastes resources, increases backup times and places a significant strain on the network. Modern data protection solutions enable far more intelligent handling of application-centric duplicated data. Redundant data is identified at the source, preventing it from being included in backup tasks.

  • Simple, Single Point of Management – Using legacy solutions, built on point technologies, involved learning different interfaces and processes for managing the backup and recovery of different applications. Modern, application aware data protection solutions provide a single management interface for backup and recovery of all applications.

Ultimately, modern, application aware data protection should be about reducing unplanned application downtime. Commvault’s approach to application aware data protection ticks all the boxes listed in the best practices above.

To corroborate this, Commvault commissioned IDC to conduct an in-depth survey of its worldwide customer base. A key finding by IDC was that Commvault’s approach increased the reliability and availability of backup operations and in doing so reduced annual unplanned downtime across the customer base by 55%.

As organisations feel the growing need to meet consumer demands of always-on availability, it’s clear that Commvault’s modern approach to application aware data protection has all the necessary requirements to help businesses meet that need.

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