What Does Enterprise-Grade Really Mean? 7 Functions of Backup Solutions that Make the Grade

Dave Packer

Technology companies are notorious for changing business models and jumping from one value proposition to the next. Pivot-happy executives of tiny startups boldly espouse their market dominance when all the while, 500-pound gorillas casually prepare to eat their market share.

As part of this scramble to stay afloat, consumer-centric vendors often position themselves for the lucrative enterprise market by touting their solutions as “enterprise-grade” – even when they’re not. In the data backup space, what does a product have to provide to truly be considered enterprise-grade? It’s one thing to talk in general terms about scalability and functionality, but what should an enterprise solution offer specifically?

The Enterprise Has Gotta Have it All

As noted in an informative Forbes article, enterprise-grade solutions must provide not just granular features, but an overarching strategy for servicing the complex needs of today’s organizations. To attain this and help large organizations remain competitive, software and other backup technology solutions must simultaneously address 7 key data transfer needs:

1. Low Impact Performance

An enterprise-grade backup solution should be able to handle data with speed, whether the data resides on servers inside the firewall or endpoints outside of it. Each application that uses the infrastructure takes up bandwidth, storage, and system resources. An enterprise-grade product is designed to enable the business to manage these resources accordingly, and utilize modern data technologies such as global deduplication to get the job done efficiently. By enabling efficient data reduction, global deduplication offers dramatic savings in bandwidth consumption, which means faster backups. By providing both resource allocation controls and modern data reduction technologies, the enterprise has the tools needed to fit the product into their environment, unlike consumer grade or small business technologies which operate in smaller environments and when used at scale, generate too much overhead and impact network and end-users.

2. Security 

Security is a big deal for the enterprise and can’t be fudged with a not-quite-enterprise-grade solution. To ensure that only the right people have access to data, enterprise backup solutions should include industry-best encryption to protect data at rest and in motion across applications, infrastructure and endpoints. This should hold true even after data has left the firewall. Security is key and data must be protected at-rest and in-transit while at the same time not impacting end-users or the services that are being delivered. Enterprise-grade products not only deliver this security but also conduct deep audits to show their security measures align to enterprise needs. Audits done by 3rd party reputable firms, for example HIPAA, SOC2, and others show the vendors alignment to address enterprise security and compliance requirements.

3. Seamless performance

Employees and departments have mission-critical work to do and the enterprise can’t afford to let slow networks grind productivity to a halt. To avoid impeding end-user workflows, enterprise-grade backup solutions should allow users to carry on as usual while backups are underway. Low/Zero impact to employee productivity is key, especially when we're talking about technologies that if not designed correctly could impact end-user productivity, creating issues where end-users may disable the product, or create work-arounds that sidestep the goals of IT and may come back to haunt the end-user and company in the long run.

4. Ecosystem Integration

Enterprise solutions must integrate with an organization’s existing IT framework in order to minimize business disruption, leverage prior IT investments, and break down siloed workflows. The eDiscovery process serves as a great example of a complex workflow requiring companies to collect and mine their data in a forensically sound manner, ensuring chain-of-custody of the data is maintained. A process that often results in multiple data handoffs. Enterprise-grade technology vendors recognize their not the center of the universe and the importance of providing APIs to interconnect with other system to allow interconnectivity to automate this type of data transfer for simplifying a complex business workflow.

5. Global Compliance

Companies require robust data management tools to successfully comply with local, state and international regulations. Data residency requirements, HIPAA, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are but a few examples of the complex regulations faced by today’s enterprise. So organizations can stay out of trouble, enterprise-grade solutions should enable them to efficiently define policies, implement controls, and capture, manage and access data over time. Enterprise-grade solutions are aware and ahead of the curve in understanding the implications of these regulation changes and provide as part of their systems the controls, auditing, visibility and segregation of management over the data to ensure they can align with the changing regulatory landscape.

6. Cost Efficiency

Given the cost sensitivity of the modern enterprise, enterprise-grade solutions need to function like a Swiss army knife, equipped with various tools to accomplish several different tasks. A full-featured backup platform should be able to handle more than just backup by also facilitating archiving, operating system (OS) migrations, disaster recovery (DR), business continuity, and data governance. Solutions that deliver this not only satisfy multiple needs, but also help organizations reduce their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

7. Scale

Enterprise grade solutions should be able to handle petabytes of data from tens of thousands of data sources (endpoints, cloud applications, servers) while scaling seamlessly for future growth. Unlike most consumer offerings, which bolt on functionality that’s only superficially scalable, enterprise architectures should be designed from the ground up for massive scale, leveraging such things as object-based storage and the public cloud infrastructures of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

At first glance, many backup solutions appear similar and equally suited to satisfying enterprise requirements. However, as you look under the hood of different offerings to verify their claims, don’t forget to consider the company itself. Are they known for enterprise solutions or grounded in the consumer market? Vendors trying to leave behind their consumer roots may not have the workforce talent, product depth, or customer base to truly understand and meet enterprise needs. If you do your homework, you can figure this out up front and make smart choices that don’t leave your buying decision, and company’s future, to chance. 

Druva is the industry's top-rated solution for enterprise data availability and governance, ranking highest for data governance, security, PC Migration, and mobile devices support, among other capabilities. Read the analyst report to learn more about best practices for data governance in the cloud era.