Catalog engines enable simplified backup migrations

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Despite the better features, lower prices and reduced complexity offered by newer enterprise backup software vendors, the need to maintain access to data for legal and compliance needs have locked companies into their current provider.

The legacy data contained in backup is locked away in a unique vendor format that will no longer be accessible if you migrate to a different platform, unless you maintain an instance of the original environment. The complexity and expense to change it is often cancelled out by any of the benefits gained via a backup software migration until now.

New catalog engines simplify conversion and consolidation to a new backup platform while providing direct access to legacy tapes for legal and compliance without requiring the original software for data restoration.

How it works

The catalog engine eliminates the pain associated with managing legacy data as part of the transition to a new backup vendor. The engine takes legacy backup data in the current vendor's format (and even a generation or two older platforms) and makes it accessible after switching to a new backup vendor.

A catalog engine is software that ingests the backup catalog from the media server, enabling the immediate retirement of the backup software provider. The engine will manage the backup catalog for the retired backup software going forward and provide search against legacy files and email repositories, should the files be needed.

When specific user files or emails are required from legacy tapes to support eDiscovery, legal and compliance requests, the engine provides detailed insight into the catalogs listings to find specific files and email databases.

Once the relevant data is located and the tape's volume label identified, the engine processes the backup set, allowing for the individual file and email contents to be searched and accessed. Individual files and email can then be extracted from tape as necessary. No restoration using the original backup software is required.

When to make a switch

With the ability of a catalog engine to simplify a migration now available, companies should consider if a change of backup software vendor is practical and cost-effective for their needs.

For those currently maintaining multiple backup environments or looking to switch from tape to a disk-based backup, the answers and ROI come easier, and the catalog engine is a logical option.

For companies considering a backup change for cost-based reasons need to consider the initial and continued operating costs on their current and prospective providers, then consider the catalog engine compared to the cost and frequency of eDiscovery or regulatory events and offsite storage.

Although the cost of a standard catalog engine is typically lower in cost than backup vendor maintenance fees, it can also save considerable funds should a litigation event arise as companies can search for data based on metadata fields. If tapes are held in an offsite vault or legacy tape remediation plans were already being discussed, those same metadata fields can help find and secure the 1% to 3% of data that has long term preservation requirements.

The big picture

Beyond compliance, eDiscovery and data center upgrades, catalog engines usher in an opportunity not only to migrate or consolidate backup vendors, but eliminate dated technology and risk of unknown content hidden on legacy tapes.

By using a catalog engine, clients can ultimately eliminate the need to maintain legacy tape by using the metadata search fields to move needed documents to archive, retire tape access along with its offsite storage costs and setting management and litigation policy.

Depending on the industry, certain documents may only need to be retained for two, five or seven years. Despite this, many companies have every email and document created in the last 20 years sitting in an off-site vault.

For those that want to go beyond a simple backup vendor switch, the catalog engine can be a means to an end (of legacy tape).

Index Engines provides unprecedented file-level knowledge to manage the growing costs and risks associated with unstructured user data.

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