Securing backup data has become an absolute requirement for organizations of all sizes. New, sweeping government regulations such as HIPAA, GLBA and Sarbanes-Oxley have placed more stringent requirements on organizations to secure and back up a wide range of data, from health care records and personal finance information for individuals to financial and confidential information for corporations.

For decades, companies have been backing up data onto magnetic tapes and then storing the long-term history offsite. However, this process can be extremely cumbersome and not very secure. Once a tape is made, it is placed in a carton and moved to an offsite location, often via an employee's personal vehicle, or in cases where the information is extremely sensitive, by third-party truck. But no matter what the transport method, tapes often are lost or even stolen. Organizations can use encryption to protect the confidentiality of the data, but the technology can be expensive and complex.

Many companies are moving to disk-based backup to shorten backup windows and to gain faster and more reliable backups and restores. Disk-based backup sits in the same data center as application servers and primary storage. Backup data is inherently secured by network and data center security; this leverages the same security that is used for the rest of the network components.

If there is a second site available, the disk-based backup system can supplement or eliminate offsite tapes and avoid complex encryption technology. A second site can act as a live disk-based repository, providing fast recovery in the event of a disaster, while also taking advantage of existing network and data center security. All data transfers between the primary site and the offsite disk-based system is over a secure, encryp ted VPN.

Scalable disk-based backup systems also incorporate data reduction, so only the changes are moved from backup to backup. As a result of this efficiency, backups can be kept up to date offsite without degrading WAN performance. At the byte level, data changes only about two percent at the from backup to backup, so just 1/50th of the data on average will move across the WAN.

In selecting a secure, scalable and cost-effective disk-based backup solution, it's critical to evaluate seven key areas of each prospective solution to ensure that it will meet the needs of your organization now and into the future. We have outlined the following seven core requirements for secure, cost-effective disk-based backup:

  1. Leverages existing backup applications, processes and standard data center security;
  2. Reduces nightly backup window;
  3. Enables fast and reliable restores utilizing a disk-based verified data approach;
  4. Eliminates tape management challenges through the use of disk and server technology;
  5. Provides efficient and low-cost storage scalability through byte-level delta technology;
  6. Can co-exist with existing tape strategy;
  7. Supplements offsite tapes with a live disk-based data repository solution that satisfies all seven requirements of cost-effective disk-based backup;

Backing up data to disk is far more efficient when high-quality disk is combined with advanced byte-level delta data reduction technology, minimizing the amount of data to be stored. Considering the ongoing compliance requirements companies must manage, a system that does not meet or grow with your needs will prove to be expensive and time-consuming down the road. If you keep these seven core disk-based backup requirements in mind, you will select a system that will enhance the security of your backup data and serve you well for years to come.