NAS disk is presented by a filer head via NFS or CIFS shares as a target to which backups can be sent. However, there is more than one option on how the data gets there and how it's managed afterwards.
Backup software support for the Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) is a must when using NAS in the backup environment, and there are a number of niche vendors that specialise in this. Most of the major midrange-to-enterprise backup solutions have had support for NDMP for some time and some include enhanced features in conjunction with partner NAS vendors. Snapshot technology, for example, is a popular feature in the NAS space and opens a number of options in backup strategy.
For example, replicating snapshots from remote NAS filers to a centralised NAS filer can help minimise the footprint of the backup infrastructure at those remote sites. Moving data from filer-to-filer can be managed by some snapshot products or by enhanced features offered by backup software vendors.
Using NDMP the backup software can then protect the snapshots at the centralised, dedicated backup NAS filer. Tape, however, should not be completely overlooked. For data that requires very long term retention tape is still a valid target for backup data, but with a well planned NAS solution the amount of tape can be reduced considerably.
This was first published in March 2009