Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How to keep long term backups? - Tiering or... something simple!

Recently, customer asked me the question:
      I’m looking for a discussion document which outlines best practice for tiering backups.
This question comes for ages.

Idea of tiering in backup comes from our internal dream:
Let’s have fast, secure and good media (storage) for recent backups/data
but at the same time
Let’s keep old backups as cheap as possible

Recent backups we usually keep on Data Domain (
Data Domain gives us huge performance, security, and restore.
This is what we require from protection production: no load, fast backup and easy, fast restore.

For older backups copies (archive backups) we really do not know what to do?
We just need old backups to keep cheap...

We have couple of options for storing old backups:
Object storage (local/cloud)
Or maybe…

Why not just keep 5 years backup on Data Domain?
Local Data Domain / Data Domain in cloud – as one wishes.

During one of the workshops I asked customer:
       How long do you keep backups on Data Domain, how long on tape?
He said:
       Daniel, I have no time and money to play with backup tiering.
       I have bought 2 Data Domains (little bigger) and I just replicate between 2 cities.
       I have 90 copies on each Data Domain (30 daily for last month and 60 monthly for last 5 years)
       No touch, same cost, dream life.

My experience (I would choose it for myself) is that little bigger DD - for both production backups and archive backups - in many cases is better than tiering.
Money are similar, simplicity is incomparable.

Of course, every case is different, but…
Most simple solutions are the best ones!

And let me quote my great friend from UK:

When I started dealing with backup I was said that the more we retain on Data Domain, the better de-duplication is.
And that is so true…

The current push for tiering backups in reality makes more problems rather than solving any.
Tiering backup is:
  • Expensive
  • Complicated because of restore 
  • And many other compatibility issue
Why keeping last backups on great media (like Data Domain) and moving older backups to tape/object provides complication, less flexibility, additional costs?

With tiering in backup, we have 2 different media, software, policies to manage those 2 different backup media?

Why do we do that all complication?
To make backup cheaper.

But… Even hard costs of tiering like additional storage (second tier) + potential licenses for tiering in many cases eat that whole difference in price between 2 different media.

Not mentioning soft costs like management, integration, know how, …
This is what my customer just said from his experience.

So having fantastic media like Data Domain, we can just increase a little bit its space – not much due to de-duplication – and we can enjoy f.e. 5 years retention!
With no problems, no management, easy.
And with similar or even less money…

And... Data Domain can be in the cloud using Object Storage as the space for backups.
But this something for another article...

Most simple solutions are the best ones!

Only successful recoveries….