Backup Solutions - why Gartner's CC report is required reading....

Gartner is one of the leading industry analyst firms and is relied upon by CIOs globally.  One of the analyst firm’s most most well known report is the “Magic Quadrant” (MQ) which they publish annually.  They publish individual MQs on a variety of different sectors and the document relies on data submitted by vendors, and, more importantly, perspectives that Gartner has gained from calls with thousands of end users.

The 2017 MQ for Data Center Backup and Recovery Solutions was just published and will be available shortly.  As part of the research, Gartner also published a “Critical Capabilities” (CC) document which provides more detail on the underlying data supporting the MQ.  In this blog, I wanted to look at the three critical use cases contained within the CC.  These are particularly enlightening because they represent the three areas that Gartner indicates are most important for data protection.

Use Case #1 – Balanced Physical and Virtual Environments

This use case is vital for heterogeneous environments.  It focuses on the ability to protect not just virtual machines but also physical systems like Unix or iSeries that are not compatible with the most commonly used hypervisors.

For enterprise environments, this use case is very relevant because it encompasses high performance physical servers.  In practice, critical business databases are often on physical servers given the performant nature of high end Unix or Linux servers.

Use Case #2 – Fully Virtualized Environments

This use case refers to customers who have fully embraced virtualization and do not have traditional physical servers.  In practice, this model aligns with newer businesses that were created since the dawn of the hypervisor, and thus never invested in a traditional physical servers.

It is interesting to note that early on, this segment was dominated by upstart data protection companies that focused exclusively on virtualized infrastructure.  However, as the market has evolved, all the major vendors have entered the space.  It is important note that not all vendors provide equally deep backup and recovery options for virtualized environments and so you should closely analyze any solution that you are considering.

Use Case #3 – Public Cloud Environments

This use case is split into two different sub use-cases of which the first relates to extending traditional protection to the cloud and the latter focuses on protecting SaaS applications.

Reducing on-premises backup footprint only

In this scenario, end users rely on the cloud for long-term data retention or disaster recovery. Classic examples would be leveraging cloud-based object storage for retention or spinning up compute instances inside the public cloud for DR purposes.

Many vendors promote the ability to rely on the cloud for retention and DR; however, the depth of integration and recoverability options vary widely.

Reducing on-premises production footprint with its associated backup

This scenario is focused on the protection of SaaS offerings such as Office365 or Salesforce.com.  These applications offer basic protection, but many end users are looking augment those offerings with third party technology.  This is a new market for many traditional protection software providers since they have historically focused on traditionally physical and virtual server protection.

Gartner weights the first cloud use case more heavily since they see much more demand for those offerings.

In summary, Gartner’s use case focus is interesting and sheds important details on the market segments that they are asked about most frequently.  As an end user, you might want to consider which use case (or multiple use cases) best applies and look at the their analysis to guide you in your choice of which vendors to consider.