Backup is a necessary evil. At Druvaa, our goal is to get rid of the evil part of backup. The first step in that process is to find out the pain points of traditional backup.
- Backup schedules: Traditionally, a backup is a scheduled process that runs at fixed intervals. In case of a failure, the data updates since the last backup are lost. The recovery point objective (RPO) is weaker with traditional backup. (Refer to Understanding RPO and RTO for a discussion on RPO.)
- Backup slots: Traditional backup processes are resource heavy. Also, the server appplication needs to be quisced to get a consistent backup image. This implies that the regular server activity cannot continue during backup. Hence, backup is schduled to run during a time slot when the regular application activity is not present or is present at a lower scale. As the amount of data and the time to backup grows, it becomes harder to find time slots for scheduling backup. The increase in the number of business hours also puts additional pressure on the backup slots.
- User interface: Traditional backup interface is complex due to the concepts of full/incremental backups and schedules. Due to the user interface complexity, it becomes harder to let the end user control the backup process. Typically, the administrator configures the backup for end users’ desktops and laptops. The configuration remains static and cannot easily adapt to dynamic data layout. Instead, the end user is asked to arrange his or her data to suit the backup configuration.
- Backup media: Traditional backup is performed on media like magnetic tapes or optical disks. Complete automation (using robotic media libraries) of the backup process is too costly. In absence of an automated process, an administrative attention is required to manage the backup media. Maintaining the backup media also requires administrative effort. The restore operation also requires administrative attention because the right backup media needs to be loaded.
- Special hardware: Tradional backup is performed using media like magnetic tapes that require special hardware like tape drives. Special hardware means additional procurement and maintenance cost.
- Restore operation: With traditional backup, an end user cannot restore her files by herself. Typically, a service request is sent to the administrator, thus increasing the time taken for restore. The recovery time objective (RTO) is weaker with traditional backup. Refer to Understanding RPO and RTO for a discussion on RTO.
In the next post, I’ll discuss possible approaches to address the painpoints of traditional backup.