Organizations often view remote office and branch office (ROBO) backup as “nice to have,” but they don’t typically see it as something critical to the business. IT tends to instead focus on core data center applications and services like databases, email, and messaging. However, for many organizations, the reality is that remote or branch offices perform some of the most mission-critical work for their business. The output of that work may be office productivity documents, job-specific applications like CAD/CAM, or location-specific applications. Protecting this data and making sure the site can recover from a disaster is no longer “nice to have,” it is mission-critical.
ROBO is also not a “one-off” situation anymore. It is not uncommon for even small organizations to have multiple remote locations, and large organizations may have hundreds or even thousands, especially in retail. Some organizations are nothing but ROBOs and don’t have a core data center at all. Nevertheless, whether you’re a large organization with many ROBOs or a small organization with just a few, protecting your data is essential.
One of the reasons that organizations view ROBO data protection as “nice to have” is because the tools that IT requires to do an adequate job of protecting remote data were not available at a reasonable cost. Most of the time, ROBO backup, means that some form of replication is used to deliver data back to the primary data center, which is then backed up to tape or replicated to a disaster recovery (DR) site. The problem is that storage systems that provide replication functionality for disaster recovery are expensive, especially to buy in triplicate. Also, while ROBO protection is critical, continuous replication may be overkill. ROBOs need rapid recovery, but they don’t typically need instant recovery.
Another option is to place backup infrastructure within each ROBO. A local deployment eliminates the need for continuous replication and it does provide rapid recovery in case of a minor failure. The problem is that the cost of installing a backup server at each ROBO location is expensive, and since there is often no local IT presence at a ROBO, core IT needs to manage it remotely. Remote management of backup is a weak spot for many data protection applications.
Alternatively, IT can deploy media servers instead of full backup servers at remote locations. Still, these media servers need constant communication with the backup server at the core data center and also need to transmit backup metadata. They are entirely dependent on the primary backup server to operate. Additionally, there likely is still a fair amount of IT “hands-on” required to maintain them.
Disaster recovery is especially problematic for ROBO sites. If a remote office experiences an outage, where does the DR happen? In theory, the core data center, if there is one, has all the data and is the correct recovery point. Does it make sense, however, to relocate all the ROBO employees to the primary headquarters during the disaster? In most cases, those employees will want to stay close to home to recover from any personal impact the disaster might have on them. Recovery needs to be close to home, something that replicating data to a core data center makes very hard.
Finding the right remote office backup solution
A backup-as-a-service solution is almost tailor-made for the ROBO use case. The on-premises software footprint is light, and hardware is optional. If the solution uses hardware at all, it acts as a cache for the rapid recovery of the most recent backup. Backup-as-a-service has long since dealt with the amount of data that needs to be transferred and can make efficient use of even the thinnest of Internet connections thanks to source-side deduplication and compression. IT can easily manage all of the ROBO installations from a single pane of the glass management console. If a remote office encounters a disaster, its environment can restart in the cloud, enabling the team there to stay at home so they can also recover personally.
The best part of using backup-as-a-service as your ROBO solution is the low cost and rapid time to deploy. With backup-as-a-service, you are only paying for what you are storing in the cloud; it is a consistent, flat pricing model. Deployment is just as easy. An organization can go from a no ROBO protection strategy to one that makes the core data center jealous in a few hours per location. But the core data center doesn’t need to be jealous for long; backup-as-a-service can protect that too.
Druva is a leader in backup-as-a-service, and we have thousands of customers using our backup solution to solve their ROBO (and core data center) data protection challenges. Because we are cloud-based, you can quickly try us out at one location and see how it goes. We are confident that once you do, you’ll want to deploy our backup solution in all of your ROBO locations and maybe even your core data center. It’s not too late to start protecting your remote locations and get out of the backup infrastructure business.
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