Oh, for the good old days when backup software was a simple affair.
You selected the data to be backed up, the target device – a tape or hard drive – set the schedule to run overnight or on weekends, and that was it.
Modern backup systems are much more sophisticated. They can back up to multiple locations and media, operate entirely in the cloud, perform cross-media backups to speed up the process, create incremental backups, and use deduplication and compression.
Backup software is a changing space. Here are some of the key trends in the backup software market:
The bad guys have been so successful at infecting backups as part of organizations holding a ransom that ransomware protection has quickly become an entry point for backup vendors.
“The main trend in backup software is the increasing ability of vendors to quickly detect and remediate a ransomware attack,” said George Crump, CMO, StorOne.
“Vendors enable more granular protection through block-level backups and rapid recovery through instant recovery capabilities that instantiate an application’s data onto the backup storage target. Detection looks for unusual spikes in read/write activity and provides a reference to the last known good copy of data.”
As a result, modern backup storage needs to have at least some flash capacity to keep up with the large number and more frequent backup jobs. They also require a flash layer to complement the instant recovery capabilities of the backup software. And backup storage targets should provide an extra layer of ransomware resistance by storing backup data immutably.
Cybersecurity Backup and Convergence
This brings an overall convergence in the once-discreet world of backup software and cybersecurity.
IT operations and backup administrators may own the backups and the budget, but the security expertise is often in the group of the CISO. Both groups should be on the same page.
“Originally, backup was essential to protect data in the event of physical threats, such as flooding, fire or even sprinklers going off in the server room. But today it is a non-issue with the advent of the cloud,” said Peter Nourse, CRO and CMO, asigra.
“The threat that keeps everyone up at night is malware and specifically ransomware.”
Cyber criminals are taking advantage of organizational gaps and the outdated backup security that exists in many organizations. Sophisticated attacks routinely penetrate immutable and air-gapped storage, common defenses for protecting backups, using attacks that have been around for years, such as Trojan/sleeper attacks and credential theft.
“Unfortunately, IT operations may not be aware of these attack techniques and assume that their last line of defense is well protected,” Nourse said.
“We see the best organizations adopt backup solutions with integrated and multi-layered security that grows with the advancing attack vectors.”
There is so much data in so many places that backup management has become a nightmare.
For example, it is common for organizations recovering from an event to discover several flaws in their backups. Whether it’s because of corrupt backups or poor security, or the fact that entire sites, apps, or databases aren’t included in the enterprise backup schedule, backup management has become complicated.
Centralized management is emerging to address these concerns. Advanced management consoles enable IT to view the completeness and integrity of backups.
“As enterprises move towards a hybrid IT model and workloads are distributed across the data center, public cloud and edge, it is critical to protect these workloads regardless of location,” said Michael Hoeck, analyst at Gartner.
“Leading backup vendors are addressing this by offering a management platform that can be deployed in the main data center or increasingly hosted as-a-service in the public cloud.”
Database backup extension
Databases used to be purely in relational database management systems (RDMSs). But the emergence of unstructured data created a need for alternative architectures.
For example, NoSQL databases are non-tabular databases that store data differently than relational tables. They have become popular and widespread since they appeared on the scene in the early years of the millennium.
Backup software vendors were a little late to the party initially. But in recent years they have started to include NoSQL backup features in their solutions. Instead of Oracle and Microsoft SQL RDBMS databases, big data projects tend to use NoSQL databases, such as MongoDB and Cassandra. For example, Rubrik and Cohesity have acquired other companies to build in this form of backup.
“Established vendors, such as Commvault, Dell Technologies and Veritas Technologies, have begun to address these backup requirements by building such capabilities natively into the backup platform,” said Hoeck of Gartner.