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Don MacVittie

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Need for Reliable Backup and Archiving of Data Technologies

WAN Optimization Helps Reduce Your Remote Datacenter Bandwidth Needs


Over the years data archiving and backup technology have waxed and waned, growing closer and further away from each other as the needs of the enterprise, new technologies, and the external economic and regulatory environment have changed. There have been clear indications that the need for reliable backup and archiving of data was a growing regulatory requirement, yet it did nothing for the business, and that meant it was a hard-to-sell expense.


Out in the TwitterSphere there are some thinkers starting to expound that we need more business analysts and less techs, and even a few saying that we should stop being technologists all together in IT. One has even suggested that we stop calling it IT and call it something more aligned with business. That way lies danger for all things infrastructure or IT focused. Back in the late 90s I was at a place where the Network Engineers had to sell an upgrade to a network segment. One that should have been upgraded long before their proposal. As an Enterprise Architect, I was involved in looking over what they did, reviewing the presentation, and helping them out. They had to fight tooth and nail to upgrade a segment that was years out of date, showing projections of usage and predicting a segment meltdown. Mind you that network segments, backups, lots of that stuff is not going anywhere… It is all part of the overhead that is IT, whether your IT is in the cloud or in your data center on physical servers and everywhere in between. It is also all technical. The usage on a network segment, which backup/replication/archive system to use, these things are decision points that require technical knowledge of the systems involved.


But I digress. Back to the topic at hand, which is your data. When courts started slapping enterprises with penalties for “lost” email archives, and requirements for data retention in some industries started to go up, many started looking at long term archival again, but replication was just heating up, and we’re multi-tasking, but not that multi-tasking, these things were similar and happening at the same time. Replication could be sold to the business as disaster recovery, archival storage is risk management. Replication won. But with replication came a slew of “for long term storage” caveats – getting the most out of technology for the business, even when the business is resistant. Or perhaps to overcome the business’ resistance.

Where does that leave us? Well, for many people, and against the advice of many others, replication is a key to both our short and long term data retention strategies… We need that replication to a remote site to go through so that we have short term DR capability, and so that we have long term archival capability. Sometimes the archiving is done off the replica, sometimes it is the replica, perhaps with some snapshotting. I won’t tell you this is just a bad idea, you know it, and if you’re using a replica as your archive, we’ll just assume it is due to the business environment you are operating in.


We in IT are facing even more hurdles to infrastructure upgrades, and while in the nirvana of the future, your infrastructure needs may go down, the reality of today is that they’re going up. Those replicas, backups, and archives are going to be more important as the regulatory situation changes yet again in the coming year, and the chances of you implementing something with no add to the business value of IT go down. One of the things that has been increasing over time, and cloud/SaaS increase is the burden on your Internet connection(s). The amount of data sent off site is going up, and these days the vast majority of us use our Internet connections to send nearly all data off-site. Trucks and tapes aren’t more secure, they’re not more reliable, and they’re certainly not faster, so Internet bits and bytes won. That means you need to get the most out of that pipe though, and for most organizations, the most isn’t at all accurate in today’s usage scenario.


That’s why the resurgence of WAN Optimization. We need to get the data to its destination as quickly as possible, as reliably as possible, and as inexpensively as possible. All while increasing the amount of data being transferred. With high performance WAN Optimization you can put off making a never-ending investment in more bandwidth. Which adds up quickly if you have to pay by the month for increased bandwidth, considering that T3 to OC3 prices are a huge multiple – around 5x the monthly fees – anything that helps you defer the need to perform an upgrade that will cost you thousands of dollars – or more – per month is worth checking out. And that’s without the equipment and service costs.

And with WAN Optimization, you’re benefitting all applications that run through it, not just making replication more reliable and secure, which makes it easier to sell to the business. And there’s always that chance that by installing WAN Optimization you can reduce your remote datacenter bandwidth needs, which could result in an immediate cost savings. Not that I expect this to be typical, but the bandwidth reduction WAN Optimization offers makes it possible, particularly if you’re barely into the next size of pipe.

Buying more bandwidth is always an option, but like so many things in IT, it is a high-cost, every month expense, so exploring options that can optimize your connection and reduce or defer upgrades – yes, like our WOM product, but I’m talking more generally – should be on your checklist before you sign that contract. After all, if not you, then who? If not now, then when?


Funny bit about this title, I’ve known of this phrase since I was a kid, and researching it now, it seems to have no actual progenitor. Many believe it is a modification of the famous quote by Hillel the Elder, but it gets a lot of attribution, including a rapper and Gorbachev – both of which came to prominence after I learned of the phrase. So you can claim it if you want!

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Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.