Key among Preston's recommendations were that users can gain faster restores, more efficiently manage tape media and cut down backup windows by backing up to disk and using data deduplication products.
That message chimed with a number of attendees who are suffering from ballooning data volumes and headaches with tape management.
John Tollitt, IT infrastructure manager with Arts Council England, is currently undergoing a data centre move from London to Manchester and is considering moving to disk-based backup because of issues with tape.
"I'm here today to find out more about data deduplication and to see if there are other solutions I could be using," he said. Legacy backup with backup to tape at a remote site is currently a big headache; getting people to go in and change or recover tapes is a real pain in the neck, which is why I'm looking at moving everything to disk."
Paul Dean, operations analyst with Yorkshire Building Society in Bradford, had a similar story. He too was keen to investigate the possibility of moving away from tape backup.
"I want to get to grips with the new technologies that are coming out. We've traditionally backed up to tape and have dabbled with VTLs [virtual tape libraries], but there's a huge overhead in managing tapes and I can see the new disk hardware could have real benefit," Dean said. "Keeping on top of tape management is the most time-consuming thing and it's very easy to lose control of that process."
Growing data volumes a backup issue
Growing data volumes and difficulty meeting backup window service-level agreements (SLAs) was the motivation for Stockport Council specialist support team leader Peter Simpson.
"The amount of data we need to back up is set to increase substantially with a new SharePoint roll-out and also virtualising servers. Finding data for restores and the amount of media we use are our main headaches," Simpson said. "The number of tapes we're using is going up dramatically, and achieving backups within our SLAs is getting more and more difficult. We're increasing primary SAN space, and down the line we will have to look at deduplication to disk with backup off to tape after that."
Andrew Clague, IT engineer with architects the Building Design Partnership, said he was keen to find out the options for disk-based backup and data deduplication due to quickly growing volumes of data.
"We're experiencing pain with the backup window and some of the devices we're using are quite out of date," he explained. "I'm here to get abreast of what's going on in the market now. We use EMC kit and we back up straight to tape; we'd like to move to some kind of disk-to-disk-to-tape setup with dedupe. We're an architectural firm and have to deal with large file sizes with a doubling of data volumes at least every year."
Preston: Keep up-to-date on features of latest product releases
Seminar speaker Preston advised backup professionals to read the release notes on the latest versions of products because backup vendors have added lots of functionality in recent years that can help make the process quicker and easier. He cited data deduplication, the cloud as a target, data protection management, continuous data protection, synthetic full backups and virtual server backup as features incorporated into standard backup products recently.
"The best advice I can give is to simply update yourself on the functionality of your backup software in the last couple of years," he said. "There have been a number of vendors that have really added a lot of functionality to their backup products."
He added: "People are very guilty of just upgrading to the latest version -- say upgrading to NetBackup 7 just to get Windows 2008 support -- but not reading the release notes to see what's available now in the product. [They could be] missing out on something in there that could really change the way they do things."