Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Blue Box Blog, Elizabeth White, Sunil Rajasekar, Ruxit Blog, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

The Best of Both Worlds

Disk and tape backups: an optimal solution

Speedy disk backups are gaining in popularity as networking demands increase, but the traditional tape data protection won't disappear overnight. Maybe it's time to think about the best of both worlds.

With more and more pressure on Linux system administrators to protect data and make it readily accessible 24 hours a day, an increasing number of companies are looking for alternatives or supplemental solutions to traditional client-to-tape backup/restore.

Faced with budget constraints and a steadily escalating need for quick if not instant data recovery, disk-to-disk backup is an option that some businesses have implemented. Both Linux-based hardware and software manufacturers are moving to meet the increased demand for methods that don't rely exclusively on tape backup.

Comparing disk backup to tape backup isn't really an exercise in what is best. More realistically, the comparison is based on what is most appropriate in terms of networking demands and structure.

Complete backup and restore is, of course, the best protection against data loss and the two foremost methods available are tape or hard disk systems. Historically, tape has been the preferred method because tape cartridges were inherently cheaper than disk drives. A secondary reason was that tape cartridges were portable and could be stored away from the computer system. Since the disk drive was internal to the PC, it could not be removed and/or stored easily or conveniently.

However, technology evolves to meet demands. The design of system/drive components has steadily pushed down the cost of disk drives, resulting in a competitive alternative to pure tape systems. Of equal significance is the fact that tape is comparatively slow and sequential, sometimes making it difficult to find files quickly. Disk drives, on the other hand, rely on direct random access, noteworthy time-saving (time = money) and read/write efficiencies that translate into enhanced productivity, and a potential drop in operating costs.

Industry professionals who tout disk-to-disk options point out advantages that are primarily related to instant access of mission-critical information. They claim:

  • Much shorter backup windows with little or no downtime
  • Rapid restore
  • Cost effective
Users and servers are increasingly scattered across wide-ranging time zones, leading to applications and data being available 24x7x365.

For data to be unavailable during a backup window of significant duration is no longer just inconvenient, it's unacceptable. In highly competitive situations, businesses of all sizes need up-to-the-minute data protection without sacrificing high availability.

Disk-to-disk can shorten or eliminate some backup window problems. Simply put, writing straight to disk is faster than to tape. Downtime is reduced or eliminated, thus decreasing the time when data is vulnerable to loss.

Similarly, restoring data from a disk is quicker than from tape. Instant access to files is possible for everyone on the network without a time-costly restore of huge tape archives.

It should be pointed out that some software users (and producers) advocate disk backup because their backup software does not allow the multiplexing or multistreaming of data to tape drives. This software limitation is avoided by multiple access to disk applications.

The cost factor between the two methods is also becoming less and less substantial. Disk-based storage hardware prices are at an all-time low. When considering speed and capacity ratios, hard disks can offer an impressive return on investment. While tape has historically been substantially less expensive than equivalent disk storage, disk prices have fallen dramatically (and capacities grown) to the point where disk-based systems have become a financially feasible alternative to tape-based systems, while delivering significantly superior performance.

Tape drive backups are still easier to secure, either by archiving to a different site, or by pulling the tape each night and taking a copy home in your backpack. High volume disk arrays are just not as flexible when formulating security guidelines.

In actuality, the combination of disk and tape backup is an optimal solution for many businesses, especially if there is a regular need for quickly retrieving and restoring files as part of business demands. Data is backed up to a hard drive, giving users immediate access to the previously saved files. Meanwhile, the disk array is backed up offline to archive the files as they change. Users don't lose any working time and data isn't vulnerable for long periods of downtime. The tape drives can be at a different location or duplicated by tape management software in order to take a copy offsite.

Essentially, then, the question "Is disk or tape backup best?" isn't as valid as "What's right for my configuration and network demands?"

More Stories By Phil Roussel

Phil Roussel is chief executive officer and cofounder of Arkeia Corporation.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...