Rich Vining

Beyond Backup: Get More Value From Backup Copies

Blog Post created by Rich Vining Employee on Nov 5, 2018

Copies of data are created and stored for the key purpose of providing an ability to recover when something bad happens. There have been many advances over the years to reduce the cost of storing these copies, the most prominent being data deduplication to reduce the impact of repeated full backups. Incremental-forever data capture largely reduces the need for deduplication. Snapshots take it a step further, keeping pointers to the blocks of data that make up a backup copy. But at the end of the day, point-in-time copies are still stored and consume storage space and offer no benefit outside of being an insurance policy.


Hitachi Vantara has expanded beyond backup to offer enhanced copy data services that enable you to make use of your backup copies for other purposes such as corporate governance and regulatory compliance. Data is at the heart of most governance and compliance activities. They require the ability to find the data, validate its authenticity, retain it for a defined period, and/or take action on it. Performing these activities can have a serious negative impact on the availability and performance of the production systems that create and manage the data.


While financial and health services organizations have a long history with data governance, many other industries are learning that they have new requirements to retain, protect and deliver their data. For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects any organization, anywhere, that stores or processes the personal information of any European citizen. Other data privacy regulations are on the cusp of being passed an implemented. They all beg the question: “Can you find and report on that data when requested by the data subject or regulatory authority?”


Where you store your data is almost as important as why you store it and for how long you retain it. For decades, the most common storage media for backup data was tape because it was the least expensive and could easily be moved off-site for disaster recovery. But access times of many hours or days make tape impractical for most business purposes. And that includes data discovery and analytics. I expand on this thought in my blog “GDPR: What About Backups”.


What if you could use a copy of the data to perform governance activities? And what if you could use a copy that you already have, such as a backup copy that is currently only used for recovery following a data loss event? Storing and managing copies of data is expensive. Why not make better use of the recovery copies that you keep and avoid the need to make additional copies of production data?


In this new environment where access and control of backup data, a highly-scalable, secure resilient and searchable object storage solution should be the choice for where to store those backup copies. The data could be tiered to cloud storage services to further reduce costs if the data is appropriate for being stored by a third-party.


With Hitachi Data Instance Director (HDID) and Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) you can repurpose your backup data to reduce the time and effort to create redundant copies, and to reduce the costs of storing the copies. It also automates the process to reduce errors and provide better access control over copy data.


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HDID stores the incremental-forever backup copies on HCP in a native file format along with metadata discovered from the source system, such as file owner, create, last modified, and last accessed dates, etc. Hitachi Content Intelligence can then index the copy data and facilitates search and discovery operations. It can also transform the data into actionable business information by improving data quality and increasing data awareness to make it more insightful.


Pentaho Data Integration provides another opportunity to gain value from your backup data. Think of adding your backup data to your data lake, making it available for big data analytics operations, with the benefit of access to historical versions of data as opposed to only that latest version found on the production servers. And you’ll be accessing and analyzing this data with no performance impact on the production systems.


To learn more, dive into the Governance Copy Services solution profile. And see how easy it is to set up and use HDID with HCP in this video. And check out ESG’s report on “Putting an End to Downtime with Hitachi Vantara” (registration required).


Rich Vining is a Sr. WW Product Marketing Manager for Data Protection and Copy Data Management Solutions at Hitachi Vantara and has been publishing his thoughts on data storage and data management since the mid-1990s. The contents of this blog are his own.