There’s a common belief that having more discounts combined with bundled licensing when procuring a new enterprise backup software is the most effective way of saving money for an organization. While this is true to some extent, the overall approach to cost efficiency is way more intricate than most people think. Cost efficiency can only be achieved when your return on investment is greater than the amount of money you’ve spent on a given solution. Start with asking a simple set questions to the enterprise backup vendor you are considering:
Question: What’s the footprint of the data protection software in terms of compute, data storage, power consumption and real estate?
When it comes to cost efficiency, the real question here is, how much resources does the solution end up saving? Because for every CPU core, every GB of memory and data storage spent on a backup solution comes at the expense of resources that can be better assigned to run business critical workloads. The rule of thumb here is to ensure that the backup solution’s resource appetite doesn’t rival the needs of a production workload. This can only be achieved from a solution that has been designed from the ground-up with resource utilization efficiency in mind. Not from legacy solutions that have been repackaged and retrofitted for modern datacenters.
Question: Do you need to buy additional OS or database licenses to run the software?
The most frustrating aspect of buying a backup software, or any software for that matter, is to pay for licenses for its underlying components. This can range from the supported operating systems the software can run to the back-end databases the software needs to support. These costs can quickly escalate with rigid, inefficient architectures as some solutions would occupy a larger footprint, leading us back to the first question. An ideal vendor should focus on developing their solution’s architecture on an open licensed or cost-efficient OS, databases and web servers that don’t escalate costs while also maintaining high performance benchmarks.
Question: Does the solution leverage the supporting platform you’ve invested in to deliver high-performance and impact-free data protection?
One of the core challenges of a data protection solution is to ensure zero negative impact on the production environment while performing backups of production data. Otherwise, businesses would end up losing revenue due to sloppy performance of their business-critical applications. IT admins do everything they can to avoid performance impact on production applications by scheduling backups during off-production hours but to do so has an impact on the RPO. Most backup vendors claim it is an unavoidable problem. This can’t be further from the truth. This can be mitigated if the solution has a solid groundwork in leveraging the underlying platform and you enforce best practice mechanisms to protect a given application.
Question: Can the solution leverage your existing hardware that might still have a couple of years before end-of-life?
"Reuse. Repurpose. Recycle." This has always been the mantra of not just cost efficiency, but also for long-term sustainability of an economy as a whole. This mantra also applies when designing a data protection strategy as it would be a lot more efficient to use your existing hardware to store backups instead of procuring new hardware. Most traditional backup vendors try to sell an appliance claiming performance and storage efficiency benefits. However, in reality, you end up spending more money with vendor lock-in.
Question: How much time and training is required for your operations team to adopt the solution?
The success of an IT organization depends on its team’s efficiency. Its counter-productive for IT teams to spend months in training to master a data protection solution, just to protect their data centers. What if, the solution could provide a UI that the end-users are already familiar with? This is only possible if the UI of the solution is tailored to its supporting platform’s UI and terminology. This way, end users don’t have to be a stranger while using the solution for the first time. It also will help with an overall instant and painless adoption.