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StarWind SAN & NAS Backup Appliance NVMe SSDs Superpowered by SupremeRAID™️

“StarWind SAN & NAS Backup Appliance NVMe SSDs, allied with latest Intel Xeon CPUs plus Graid SupremeRAID™️, can now deliver performance levels with near-to-instant backup and restore (BUR) windows.”

Why beleaguered SMEs need better backup for cyber security defense

StarWind’s NVMe-based backup server is designed to be affordable for smaller businesses

(TheRegister.com, James Hayes, July 18, 2022)  Data is often an organization’s most valuable asset, so it’s imperative that it is properly backed up and restorable against system failure and/or malicious encryption.

Demand for backup and restore (BUR) solutions is driving a mainstream market forecast to be worth $22.2 billion by 2030 with an estimable CAGR of 9.8% over the same period, according to Reports and Data). However, it’s likely that demand will be driven by larger enterprises with big IT budgets. For SMEs with less money available, backup and restore operations represent more of a challenge.

Data volumes grow exponentially as businesses expand. This puts pressure on legacy systems and causes performance degradations and delays. Simply put, the bigger the data gets, the longer it takes to backup – and to be restored if required.

Overstretched legacy backup and restore solutions are more likely to suffer faults and failures, some of which may not be immediately visible to IT departments without up-to-date management software.

Backup session scheduling is another potentially risky area. Those sessions have to be planned so they don’t overlap with production periods. Any that overrun allocated backup windows can result in missed data, which only comes to light when restores are found to be incomplete. As data grows and backup schedules take longer, they also risk interrupting critical workloads and upsetting business continuity.

These predicaments present added complexity and costs if non-dedicated IT teams try to devolve backups across multiple legacy backup and restore devices, putting further strain on older technology and systems.

Traditional benchmark metrics like RPO (recovery point objective – the desired point in time that a failed server needs to be recovered back to) and RTO (recovery time objective – the actual time it takes to move application data back to a state that it can be accessed by users) get shifted around, causing erratic service delivery.

Because their budgets are constrained, IT teams in SMEs often can’t afford the systems they really need, which in turn leads to longer backup and restore product procurement refresh cycles. Smaller businesses also lack the expertise to deploy backup and restore solutions to their best advantage and ensure they can react quickly when problems arise.

Yet the ability to protect live line-of-business data, as well as stored data used for analytics, has become as necessary an investment as any other aspect of the IT function. Adding to the challenge is the fact that 83% of UK SMEs (polled by The Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport’s UK Business Data Survey) handle data from sources other than their employees, including personal and non-personal information.

Protecting SMEs is protecting the economy

Without effective and reliable processes to restore operations to their previous state following a cyber attack or system outage, most companies would remain paralysed. It’s a situation that places SMEs in an invidious predicament that has additional ramifications for the wider economic ecosystem.

More so when we consider that cyber threats are increasingly targeting smaller enterprises. During 2021, 82% of ransomware attacks targeted organizations with less than 1,000 employees according to the latest BrightCloud Threat Report. The smallest organizations, with 100 employees or less, comprised 44% of the ransomware victims.

This represents a huge vulnerability imbalance. It’s a dangerous situation for both SMEs and the economies that rely on them. Estimates suggest that SMEs represent more than 99% of all businesses in the UK, for example, 5.6 million in total. And the ability to rapidly restore critical data from a secure backup represents those organizations’ last line of defence following a successful ransomware attack in most, if not all, cases.

While there are compelling arguments for SMEs to have enterprise-class backup and restore systems and support, the challenge is providing them with affordable access to those resources without skimping on product and service quality.

In fact, this is already feasible, due largely to the application of an advanced technology that has not been greatly associated with the backup and restore market: Non-Volatile Memory express – NVMe – the host controller interface that’s primarily designed for applications that use data storage based on non-volatile memory.

Making BUR speed into a game-changer

The NVMe interface allows host hardware and software to exploit in full the parallel, low latency data paths enabled by the latest solid-state drives (SSDs), reducing the I/O overhead and introducing additional performance enhancements over previous storage network interfaces.

NVMe SSDs could be on course to becoming a next-generation storage infrastructure standard. StarWind, a provider of hyperconverged infrastructure solutions for enterprise ROBO, SME and edge computing, deploys an all-NVMe backend to power its standard-setting Backup Appliance platform. StarWind’s Backup Appliance is a standalone hardware backup server that’s compatible with any data backup software and other IT infrastructure components a user-organization might already have.

The Backup Appliance’s architecture includes high-grade hardware and CPUs, an industry-standard hypervisor of choice, and the StarWind SDS engine (StarWind SDS is the company’s software-defined approach to orchestrating and automating the use of direct-attached storage resources). And although there’s a perception in some quarters that NVMe is affordable only to large enterprises, StarWind’s solution is aimed mainly at SMEs.

StarWind Director of Business Development, Andrew Tuzov, believes that NVMe as a generic technology has moved beyond its initial reputation for being prohibitively expensive for SMEs. He also points out that NVMe brings a number of use-case benefits that add to its broader value proposition.

“The use of NVMe dramatically decreases BUR windows, to the point where traditional BUR metrics like RPO and RTO are, in practice, no longer applicable,” Tuzov says. “Backup Appliance’s NVMe SSDs, allied to its use of the latest Intel Xeon CPUs, StarWind SAN and NAS, Graid RAID mechanism full Veeam compatibility, can now deliver performance levels that offer near-to-instant BUR windows.”

He adds: “With our Backup Appliance architecture, data storage space is separated from the backup application layer until it is needed. This means that backup data is securely ‘air-gapped’ from ransomware, as well as protected against drive failure.”

Shorter backup and restore windows can lead to indirect gains. They help improve a user-organization’s sustainability posture by reducing heat generation and energy consumption. And they leave more time for overstretched IT teams to focus their attention on business support duties, such as fine-tuning line-of-business applications.

Enterprise-class support

It’s important to understand that tight equipment budgets are just one of several constraining challenges that SMEs face, says Tuzov. “There’s no point in selling a SME customer enterprise-class hardware if they do not have access to the skills needed for it to work optimally for them.” he explains. “Small enterprises typically cannot afford BUR specialists on their IT teams, and certainly not individuals who are able to respond to backup alerts when they occur out of standard working hours,” Tuzov points out, “which is when backups – and therefore any related issues – are most likely to be scheduled for”.

Backup Appliance comes with StarWind’s ProAcive Premium Support package. “Unlike traditional support systems, which require customers to go through different stages – identify an issue, submit a ticket, and then wait for the resolution – we simplify the support chain,” says Tuzov. “ProActive Premium Support ensures that business-critical applications are constantly available by mitigating and resolving issues before they actually occur.”

Using machine learning techniques, StarWind’s ProActive Premium system Support monitors the operational environment, identifies potential issues and starts to troubleshoot automatically. StarWind reckons on about 98% of support issues resolved without its customers needing to intervene.

BUR at the Edge

While its focus on SMEs brings StarWind market differentiation, the vendor also has reach into two other market segments – enterprise ROBO and edge computing. “Interestingly, although our primary focus is on SMEs, there is a crossover into the enterprise requirement,” Tuzov explains. “We’re finding that larger companies are decentralising and devolving aspects of their IT operations to the edge of their infrastructures. In many respects here, the remote/branch office becomes a kind of SME.”

Organizations that adopt the decentralized approach might have to rethink their backup and restore strategies, because there’s not much point decentralising data at its point of generation if it is then centralized when it’s backed-up. There’s also the risk of causing network bottlenecks as data from remote locations – offices or IoT device groups – converges on a data centre as it’s all backed-up.

In its quest to make enterprise-class technology accessible to small businesses without enterprise-class budgets, it is addressing a longstanding technological disparity that leaves the companies – and the national economies that rely on their growth – at an unnecessary disadvantage.

Tuzov adds: “Deploying any new solution in SMEs places quite a lot of responsibility on their IT managers. So StarWind works closely with channel partners to make sure the solutions we supply are pre-configured to a specific customer’s requirement before they are installed, and that our partners are committed to providing post-install support as part of the overall package. That wins us a lot of positive ratings on vendor evaluation sites.”

 Graid Starwind

About GRAID

Graid Technology is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, with an office in Ontario, California, and an R&D center in Taipei, Taiwan. Named one of the Ten Hottest Data Storage Startups of 2021 by CRN, Graid SupremeRAID™ performance is breaking world records as the first NVMe and NVMeoF RAID card to unlock the full potential of your SSD performance: a single SupremeRAID™ card delivers 19 million IOPS and 110GB/s of throughput. For more information on Graid Technology, visit  Graid Technology or connect with us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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