Why Can’t Data Protection Be as Simple as Pizza?

Why Can’t Data Protection Be as Simple as Pizza?

Whether you want to deploy data protection solutions in-house or would like to explore outsourcing options, design and deployment can and should be as easy as ordering pizza

Dan Wolfe is a member of IBM’s Tivoli Storage Software Advanced Technology Team.

I recently read a blog by IBM’s Albert Barron, who did a great job simplifying the concepts of cloud computing by using the analogy of pizza-making. (Check out, “Pizza as a Service.”) Aside from making me hungry, the article helped me realize how complex things have become in my area of IT, data protection and recovery. So why shouldn’t data protection be as simple as making pizza?

The reason is that defining a solution for data protection has become a complex and lengthy task, requiring deep skills across a range of technologies. This complexity not only increases the time and cost of deploying a data protection solution, but makes it difficult for customers to evaluate and compare data protection solutions. Taking it a step further, then, shouldn’t people be able to order data protection ‘as a service,’ with the recovery features they want, similar to ordering a pizza?

The First Case: In-House Data Protection

Let’s first consider the case of defining and deploying your own in-house data protection solution, or, to use the analogy - making your pizza - minus the guesswork, complexity, cost, and risk of coming up with your own recipe.

Like family recipes for pizza dough and sauce, there seem to be infinite variations for designing and configuring data protection solutions. Some issues can be complex, such as choosing the right backup storage devices, disaster recovery features, and backup server protection strategy. Also, configuration settings may vary, depending on your choice of backup media and replication strategy. This is like making a pizza from scratch and having to decide on every ingredient that goes into it, from dough, to types of cheese and additional toppings.

IBM recently published guidelines that can dramatically simplify the process of defining and designing customized data protection solutions: the “Tivoli Storage Manager Solutions” guide. Guidelines are based on patterns that evolved over years of experience deploying data protection solutions. Readers can find help in choosing backup storage devices, determining which disaster recovery features to use, and protecting against failure of the backup server.

The Tivoli Storage Manager Solutions guide helps you determine the architecture that’s right for your desired data protection solution. But what about the details of defining and configuring a backup server that meets scalability requirements, not to mention the numerous details of configuring and tuning for optimal performance?

Fortunately, IBM has also published TSM Server “Blueprints,” which not only specifies the system components, operating system, and storage device configuration details, but actually provides a script that will configure the system to optimal specifications. These Blueprint specifications and scripts come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. They simplify and shorten the process of deploying a TSM server substantially, compared to an administrator standing up a server manually. The process is quicker, and the resulting configuration is consistent and repeatable. It also eliminates mistakes in setting up features such as operating system parameters and storage configurations. According to one administrator I spoke with, the time needed to deploy a TSM backup server has been reduced from days to about 15 minutes!

With simplified deployment, best practices, and intuitive administration, solution providers like IBM are taking the complexity out of data protection and recovery. Now, design and deployment can be easy as (pizza) pie.

The Second Case: Outsourcing Your Pizza

Let’s consider the second scenario, in which you choose not to deploy your own data protection solution in-house. Returning to the pizza analogy, you simply want to order a pizza that’s made by somebody else. The good news is, ordering data protection can indeed be that easy. More good news—you can choose how you want to consume the service, whether in your data center, in the cloud, or a combination of the two. In my work at IBM, I see an increasing number of organizations adopting the "as-a-service" approach to IT. As one of the oldest IT processes, data protection is a top candidate for this type of transformation. Not surprisingly, cloud service providers, who are in the business of delivering IT as a service, are rapidly adding data protection and recovery services to their menus.

Whether the data protection service is public or private, I’ve noticed some common practices that may help others adopt the "as- a-service" approach:

  • Like a busy pizza kitchen, you want standardization and automation, so orders can be filled rapidly and economically.
  • To keep customers satisfied, you want a menu of options that you can deliver consistently and confidently.
  • To make the right business decisions, data owners need to see the cost of data protection options.

That may seem like a tall order compared to your current environment, but cloud service providers implement these practices with great effectiveness every day.

The doorbell is ringing. My pizza is here.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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