There is no denying that IT systems are becoming more complex, especially when one considers the impact of hybrid cloud solutions, cross-domain connectivity, and the rise of service-oriented architectures. The new reality is distributed systems, where determining how data is stored and applications accessed is no longer a simple matter of pointing at a server.

The distributed nature of today’s IT has made chores such as backup, disaster recovery planning, business continuity, and application maintenance so complex that it now takes teams of professionals to plan and execute on any changes. However, with complexity comes the possibility that critical systems are overlooked and important data and services may fall through the cracks. A realization that has made the chore of backup all too important. After all, without good, reliable backups, how could any business recover from a failed upgrade, improperly executed change, or any other data disruption that has its roots in the complex nature of today’s technology.

While lost backups, overlooked systems, and shadow IT have long been problems in organizations, the fact of the matter is that complexity has become the enemy of reliable backups and simplicity must be injected into the backup equation. Yet, that remains somewhat of a conundrum, how can one simplify backup when systems have become so complex? It is a task that requires taking a different approach to executing backups, an approach that mollifies complexity, while still capturing what is critical for backup purposes.

Traditionally, backing up data and applications meant installing backup software on a physical server and then targeting the applications and data that were housed on that server. Today, that may not be possible, thanks to the rise of virtualization, containers, and cloud services.

Overcoming Backup Challenges

One way to overcome those challenges is to use an appliance-derived methodology, where the components of backup are housed on a server appliance and backup schedules are driven by wizards and policies. Simply put, the user instructs the appliance to back up applications and data. Although backup appliances have existed for some time, recent advancements in the technology have pushed backup appliances well beyond the days of a simple data repository.

Today, integrated backup appliances have become intelligent devices, which eliminates the need for separate backup software. The appliance works directly with the application, server, or hypervisor to protect virtual machines (VMs), databases and other application data, and it is fully integrated into the business processes.

That level of integration enables the appliance to deliver all the functions needed for future data restore, such as cataloging, indexing, and search. What’s more, some backup appliances incorporate virtual servers, allowing the appliance to take on the role of a failed system, albeit temporarily, until the originating system is repaired.

A backup appliance also incorporate software and controls that are designed to simplify the backup process. Features such as wizards, policy authoring helpers, and other technologies help bring a level of simplicity to backup that has been lost over the years. By targeting an application and its resources, a backup appliance can deal with line of business applications, regardless of the underlying infrastructure in place.

Sophisticated, modern backup solutions help hide the complexities of IT. When choosing a backup solution, it is critical to make sure that the product is easily understood, deployed, managed, and meets the needs of your organization. The good news is that backup technologies have evolved to the point where artificial intelligence and machine learning can actually be used to shift the complexity to an appliance as opposed to the operations team.