Empower the Move

A series of articles related to enabling businesses to move their backup data between backup vendors.

This blog investigates the categories most organisations fall into when faced with the prospect of a backup product migration. Factors that usually crop up when considering changing or upgrading backup products include:

  • Unease about legacy data conversion
  • Reducing legacy product maintenance costs
  • Retaining backup data for more than 12 months
  • Backup data that is on legal hold.

The world of IT is constantly changing to keep up with the demands of businesses striving to improve efficiency or resiliency. As organisations adopt new technologies, the supporting IT infrastructure needs to be adapted to protect the new technologies. Most organisations fall into one of these groups.

The Anti-changers
Belief: They remain with a vendor because they believe that change will be painful and will disrupt the day-to-day business too much.
Result: The business suffers and becomes less competitive because it’s not benefiting from modernisation, which delivers faster (and better) ways of protecting data, along with cost reductions and new efficiencies.

The Pick ‘n’ Mixers
Belief: They supplement their existing vendor with new technology (often from a new vendor) to provide any required additional functionality.
Result: In trying to meet specific business requirements, these organisations end up implementing multiple point solutions. Administration and maintenance costs increase, and resource usage becomes inefficient.

The Parallel Runners
Belief: They migrate to a new vendor and retain a smaller footprint of the legacy environment in case they have a need for recovery.
Result: Although this approach has its advantages, the legacy environment is expensive because it needs skilled resources, extra hardware, software licences and maintenance agreements.

The Manual Switchers
Belief: They migrate everything through a process of recovery and re-backup.
Result: This is time-consuming and requires many resources, although it does provide the opportunity to decommission the legacy environment after the migration has been successfully completed.

Six options for backup migration plans
There are six options to consider when planning a migration. Selecting the right one depends on various factors, including automation, volume of protected data, retentions and compliance

  1. Keep a smaller footprint of the legacy environment to use for restorations. This is an appealing choice if the volume of expected restores is very small and if staff have the skills to administer restores.
  2. Decommission the legacy environment and pay for a third party to recover data if you need it. This is useful if the hardware can be reused because it allows for tapes to be sent off-site and the current environment to be decommissioned. This does not suit environments using disk-based backups. If a restore is required, a third party can recover it from tape and return the required files.

  3. Retain the entire legacy environment until all data within it expires. This is a good option if the backup image retentions are short (<12 months) and hardware isn’t going to be reused. The new environment can be configured for client workload creation. After backups start going to the new environment and the data in the old environment has expired, the new environment can be decommissioned.

  4. Manually recover and re-backup data to move it from the legacy environment to the new one. This is time-consuming, and you lose the historical trail that’s often needed for audit purposes and compliance.

  5. Use a data management and migration tool. Most require third-party professional services to set them up and run, along with a separate engine to index the legacy backups. Some don’t need legacy backup software to read data, so you need to find out if the legacy product can be decommissioned. Most use their own interface for restores – if you have to carry out a restore, you’ll have to work out if data is old or new, and which interface to use. Most can script/automate image duplication to fully migrate them into the new backup environment, but this requires original media to be recalled and read before the new backup environment can re-backup the data. Until this process is complete, you will still use multiple catalogs.

  6. Use the Tranzman backup transition manager appliance. It’s a best-of-breed option that fully automates and manages the transition from the legacy backup to the new backup product. Legacy catalog data is automatically merged into the new environment, so all restores are performed using the native interfaces. You choose whether you want to automate client workload creation based on those (policies, jobs etc.) from the legacy environment. Tranzman converts images on demand, when you want to restore, and also schedules the duplication of all data and images into the new environment. Tranzman has its own image readers, so you can decommission the legacy backup software but still restore data when you need it.

Backups are for disaster recovery and archiving is for discovery – at least, that’s what some people believe. In reality, this is not the case. Many organisations have been using backup technology to hold on to data offline over the long term. However, if an organisation needs to change its backup technology, it might no longer be able to access the aforementioned data.

Stone Ram has built a prototype called Tranzman. This allows the contents of an existing backup environment to be cataloged by a replacement backup environment. Tranzman also enables you to read media (e.g. disks and tapes) held in the legacy backup environment, so you will no longer need legacy backup software. Our Tranzman solution works by intercepting calls for the media and converting the backup data to the required format used by the new environment at the point of recovery (or duplication).

A world first
With Tranzman, recovery and migration of backup data is possible without needing the original backup software. For example:

1) Catalog migrations

Catalog conversion and ingestion: Tranzman exports the legacy backup catalog, converts it, and imports it into the new backup environment to provide a single interface for all your restore requests.

Catalog mergers: Tranzman can be used to append imported catalog data to an existing catalog so multiple backup environments can be merged. Tranzman enables full or partial mergers of catalog data.

2) Backup Data Restores

Restores: With Tranzman, legacy data can be restored using your current backup product. For example, if data is on a legacy tape, Tranzman intercepts the restore request before identifying and converting the backup data to a native format which your existing backup product can process and read. When the conversion is complete, the restore will automatically continue.
 
Backup data migration: Tranzman also assists organisations that need to move all their legacy backup files onto modern backup technology. It converts and duplicates each image to native media in the target backup environment. Target environments include tape, disk and cloud-based destinations. Tranzman can be set up to be fully automated, and doesn’t need the vendor’s software to complete the process.

We are recruiting developers, backup specialists, and binary data analysts.  If you want to be involved and become part of our team check out the vacancies or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Joining the community

We’re looking out for additional community members to advance our analytics. You could help us collate sample data using our SLR Recorder tool which obtains workload and catalog information. In addition, SRL Sampler VTL VM will guide you through creating sample image files for analysis. If you’d like to join in, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Follow our progress

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Gain some ownership

If you’re an investor or a company with an interest in the backup market, and would consider investing in order to accelerate development timescales, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..