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Finance sector still the disk backup leader

Shorter backup windows pushing tape aside, says Infortrend

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More than half of British companies now prefer disk-based backup over tape, and in the financial services industry the margin is even greater, with almost two-thirds opting for spinning storage, according to a survey commissioned by RAID developer Infortrend.

The big drivers for disk-based backup are the shortening of the backup window - how long the IT department has to run the backup job - and how much an organisation values its data, said Alex Young, Infortrend's technical director.

Financial services leads in both of those areas, he said: "Also, these industries have more technical people, so they see the benefits and the need very early."

The uptake of disk-based backup is rather lower in areas such as manufacturing industry, although the survey claims that even here, 52 per cent have chosen it. Young added that organisations with over 3000 employees are more likely than SMBs to choose disk-based backup.

One of the big benefits of disk is the ability to do backups via snapshots, he claimed. Snapshot technology enables a copy of the live data to be created on disk in just a few seconds. It can then be backed-up to tape in the background if necessary.

"A snapshot lets you revert to a point in time and is more economical, because it doesn't take up the same space as the original volume - it can do, but it usually won't," Young said.

"Tape cartridges are not that much cheaper than disk drives now," he added.

He admitted that off-line tape does still have one advantage over on-line disk - lower power consumption. However, he pointed out that for most organisations, environmental aspects are secondary to keeping the business going, and in any case, companies such as Infortrend are working to reduce energy usage.

"We are looking in two directions, one is smaller and improved-performance power supplies, the other is smaller drives - 2.5 inch instead of 3.5 inch," he said.

"Smaller, lighter platters mean the power consumption is less, so there's less heat to remove too. It does require more spindles but that brings more I/O. We are also making more use of power management, powering drives down when they're not in use."

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

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