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Backup of IT systems: Rubrik BRIK systems combine all backup processes in a single solution

In business context, almost all IT systems and data are periodically backed up and copied to other IT systems. Depending on the technology used and the existing security requirements, this results in permanent basic cost. In return, business is protected against the most dramatic consequences of serious operating errors or technical damages: a critical loss of business data.

by Klaus Wagner

The challenge

As in the evaluation of all commercially used IT systems, central questions arise before the use of backup systems:   What are the busines requirements for the planned IT systems and its data? How quickly do they have to be restored in the event of a failure? And: How expensive is a possible data loss compared to the forecasted technical investment and its operational cost?

IT expects the answers on these questions from the commercial units. At the same time, such statements can only be made with reference to the current circumstances and thus on a situational basis. Ultimately, this results in a purchase that reflects today's needs as well as possible in economic and technical terms.

Over the years, however, requirements usually change: the data volume grows which is to be secured, manufacturers revise their data transfer or storage techniques and the available system types. Thus, IT faces the challenge of either procuring a solution that is too powerful from the outset - or having to operate several different systems side by side along the years. Without second thought required, both approaches are economically inefficient.

The customer solution

In the customer project at hand, Rubrik BRIKs were chosen as backup solution. Whereas typical backup solutions are difficult to scale over time, individual appliances can be easily interconnected to form a server group acting as a single system.

With this, limitation are overcome which were previously taken for granted and unavoidable. If an IT system had to be restored from backup, the recovery time was predefined by the performance of the backup systems purchased years before – only changing on its replacement after depreciation.

Today, the performance of the solution can be successively adapted to the ever-changing demand. For example, if an additional BRIK node is added to the server group, the available computing power, the addressable network capacity, and the locally managed backup storage space increase. Thus, investments can be made at the right time meeting the additional need.

Sample Benefits

So far, backups were created on a daily base - typically with alternating full and delta backups, cyclically overwriting their predecessors after some time. The chosen solution changes this and works exclusively with incremental backups. 

This requires a particular mechanism: Before aged backups are overwritten or moved to other storage media, the backup system automatically creates a synthetic full backup from the existing data. Therefore, the backup system always holds a full backup locally and its incremental backups for minimum restore durations.

In case a restore is required, the initial synthetic full backup and all intermediate backup increments are required. For this, the BRIKs dynamically provide the required files without successively restoring and comparing all intermediate versions. The system calculates the required file version, retrieves it from the respective storage systems - and transfers the relevant file version only.

What seems to be a slow process at first glance is mastered with immense speed through parallel processing of all connected appliances. The individual system parts coordinate automatically with one another: intelligently distributing required calculations, RAM, storage accesses, or data transfers.

The approach is so powerful that Rubrik advertises that virtual IT systems can be started and run directly on the BRIKs. Leading to no delay at all resulting from the technical recovery efforts. In practice, however, this approach faces natural business limitations. The cost accepted from backup operations limit the sizing of the backup devices which in turn do not hold sufficient performance reserves for regular IT operations.

The federated system design allows simple performance adaptations but also improves the security of the managed data and the stability of the solution. If, for example, a single server of the system crashes, only its part of the shared performance is lost. And if the data of a single appliance get infected by a virus, the other appliances detect the unaligned manipulation and can correct it.

Additionally, the server group is able to use heuristic methods to observe and interpret data changes. Unusual change patterns against the business data alert the administrators. By not simply accepting infected data, the system protects itself (and the backup data) on the one hand. On the other hand, it allows early detection of malicious data encryptions by Ransomware on the backup’ed systems.

The backup concept of "Incremental Forever" means that the system network can manage incremental chains of any length. At the same time, additional appliances are not periodically required. Backup versions are actively managed using business rules. For example, they can be moved to cloud cold storage or simply overwritten without regular administration.

By determining how many backup versions are kept on internal storage and when older backups are moved out to e.g. a storage box in a connected data center, IT can control the and cost efficiency and the security level of the backup solution, at anytime using simple means. By combining different storage classes from hot to cold storage, IT can optimize both recovery speed and operating costs.

The bottom line

By using a state-of-the-art backup technology such as the Rubrik BRIK system, the commercial and technical performance of backup and recovery solutions increases significantly. Since the successful project at hand, the reference customer of AdEx partners is able to restore IT systems from backup by some simple click within minutes. With the sound features, IT systems kept in the own data centers exceed the capabilities of today's cloud solutions e.g. with respect to performance and calculability.

"While seeing methodological challenges in the beginning, we learned to estimate and forecast the required BRIK capacity during the projects. We thus set the number of local, remote and cloud-based backup versions in the best possible way, optimizing the investment’s business benefit," explains Klaus Wagner, AdEx Partners. "The fact that we were able to connect to the customer on a strategic, financial and technical level, helped us to understand and balance needs - and ultimately to find the optimal solution for all sides."

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