Oh, for the good old days when backup software was a simple affair.
You selected the data to back up, the target device – a tape or a hard disk drive – set the schedule to run at night or on weekends, and that was it.
Modern backup systems are much more sophisticated. They can back up to multiple locations and media, operate entirely in the cloud, organize backups between different media to speed up the process, perform incremental backups, and use deduplication and compression.
Backup software is a changing space. Here are some of the major trends in the backup software market:
Malefactors have been so successful in infecting backups as part of the ransom of organizations that ransomware protection has quickly become an entry cost for backup vendors.
“The most significant trend in backup software is vendors’ ever-improving ability to quickly detect and recover from a ransomware attack,” said George Crump, CMO, Stor One.
“Vendors enable more granular protection through block-level backups and rapid recoveries through Instant Recovery features that instantiate an application’s data to the backup storage target. Detection looks for unusual spikes in read/write activity and provides a pointer to the last known good copy of data.
Therefore, modern backup storage must have at least some flash capacity to keep up with the high and more frequent number of backup jobs. They also need a flash level to complement the backup software’s instant recovery capabilities. And backup storage targets should provide an additional layer of ransomware resilience by immutably storing backup data.
Backup and cybersecurity convergence
This adds to a global convergence in the once discrete worlds of backup software and cybersecurity.
IT operations and backup administrators may own the backups and the budget, but security expertise is often found in the CISO group. Both groups must be on the same wavelength.
“Originally, backup was essential to secure data in the event of physical threats, such as flooding, fire, or even sprinklers going off in the server room. But today, this is no longer an issue with the advent of the cloud,” said Peter Nourse, CRO and CMO, Asigra.
“The threat that keeps everyone up at night is malware and specifically ransomware.”
Cybercriminals exploit organizational gaps and outdated backup security that exists in many organizations. Advanced attacks routinely penetrate immutable and isolated storage, common defenses to protect backup, using attacks that have been around for years, such as Trojan/dormant attacks and credential theft.
“Unfortunately, IT operations may be unaware of these attack techniques and assume their last line of defense is well protected,” Nourse said.
“We find that the best organizations use backup solutions with built-in, multi-layered security that scales with changing attack vectors.”
There is so much data in so many places that managing backups has become a nightmare.
It is common, for example, for organizations recovering from an event to discover multiple gaps in their backups. Whether it’s due to corrupted backups or poor security, or entire sites, applications, or databases not included in the company’s backup schedule, managing backups has become complicated.
Centralized management is emerging to address these concerns. Sophisticated management consoles allow IT to view the completeness and integrity of backups.
“As enterprises move towards a hybrid IT model and workloads are distributed across the data center, public cloud and edge, protecting these workloads regardless of location is critical,” said Michael Hoeck, analyst at Gartner.
“Leading backup vendors address this problem by offering a management platform that can be deployed either in the primary data center or increasingly as a hosted service in the public cloud.”
Extension of database backup
Previously, databases were contained only in relational database management systems (RDMS). But the rise of unstructured data has driven the need for alternative architectures.
NoSQL databases, for example, are non-tabular databases that store data differently from relational tables. They have become popular and widespread since their appearance on the scene in the early years of the millennium.
Backup software vendors were initially a little late to the party. But in recent years, they have started integrating NoSQL backup features into their solutions. Instead of Oracle and Microsoft SQL RDBMS databases, big data projects tend to take advantage of NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB and Cassandra. Rubrik and Cohesity, for example, acquired other companies to be able to integrate this form of backup.
“Established vendors, such as Commvault, Dell Technologies, and Veritas Technologies, have begun to address these backup requirements by integrating these features natively into the backup platform,” Gartner’s Hoeck said.