New Opinion: Dave Russell on the Broken State of Backup

Dave Russell, a Research VP at Gartner, released a new report Aug 27 entitled, Best Practices for Addressing the Broken State of Backup [G00206028]

The title alone, was enough to get attention: it states what the VIrtual team at Quest has believed to be true for a long time, which is that traditional backup methods have ulitmately failed to solve the backup problem. Dave Russell cites some of the common pain points for organizations using traditional methods:

  • Backup cost -- especially maintenance
  • Lack of sufficient product capabilities -- once again, meeting backup windows is cited as the number one problem that continues to plague most organizations
  • Backup management complexity

Dave Russell goes on to describe the root cause problems for the increasing problems with backup, the first being pure growth of data - including number of objects, size of objects, number of versions being retained, and the length of time for which each must be retained. This is one of the central problems cited in the Backup 2.0 campaign that we introduced from Vizioncore in Feb 2010: the growth of data has defeated the capability of traditional backup methods to keep up. The resulting cost and complexity that exists in backup environments, is too high to continue. Backup is draining a larger percentage of IT budget each year.

In short, Dave Russell seems to say, something needs to change.

What Drives Backup Complexity?

Dave Russell cites some of the reasons driving complexity, as including dependency on backup agents. He specifically confirms, that "in some cases, multiple agents need to be deployed on one system to protect the file system, application and network-attached storage (NAS) data."

Moreover, Dave specifically cites the growth of VMs - and the confusion about protecting them. He states, "confusion remains in the industry about best approaches, what new capabilities are facilitated by each hypervisor provider, and what level of hypervisor support and VM backup capabilities are supported by a specific vendor."

Further issues driving complexity, are described as the continued propagation of complex, tiered applications environments -- including Microsoft SharePoint, and large distributed environments which span locations.

Prescription for Change

As part of its list of vendors offering capabilities which have not been fully explored, Dave Russel cites Quest's 2006 acquisition of Vizioncore for server virtualization backup. He states, "The ability to do image-based snapshots with individual, file-level cataloging and restoration has been possible for quite some time..."

Image-based backup emerges as one of the strategies which has not yet been explored nor exploited to its fullest capability. As it turns out, using an image-based approach addresses the top three problems cited by Dave Russell in the opening to his report:

  • Image-based backup reduces costs in three primary ways:
    • By removing agents from the client systems - which eliminates maintenance
    • By reducing the amount of backup data which must be sent over networks and retained on storage
    • By speeding recovery - which lifts business productivity


  • Image-based backup eliminates unnecessary steps in the backup process - and gets the backup jobs done fast, while eliminating the need to define a backup window
  • Image-based backup removes complexity by eliminating a whole host of unnecessary backup infrastructure, along with unnecessary steps in the process - a single backup includes ALL of the data and supports ALL of the types of recoveries required

For more details on Backup 2.0 and how it can solve problems in your backup environment, see the Backup 2.0 Business Brief report attached to this blog entry.