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The True Cost of Backup

Most data-centric enterprises today have been running backups for decades. These backup solutions typically require a significant investment from the business, both financially and the on-going resources required to maintain protection.

Our latest whitepaper goes into depth on a framework to compare the cost of the most common enterprise backup strategies in 2020 - tape backup, disk-to-disk replication and backup to cloud.  


Why You Should Read This Whitepaper


Major backup vendors on both the hardware and software side have obfuscated costs, either by masking high upfront hardware costs with low media costs (tape) or by convincing storage teams they need to mirror primary storage environments with high cost secondary storage (replication) to meet their data protection goals at scale. 

This makes understanding the true cost of existing backup strategies challenging and makes it difficult to forecast future backup costs accurately. 

This whitepaper aims to identify the true cost of backup for tape, replication and backup to cloud strategies so IT leaders can better understand their current data protection costs and more accurately budget for future costs as primary storage capacity needs increase.

Our Framework for Cost Comparisons


The key to breaking down the true cost of backup is to normalize costs across these three different backup strategies, accounting for hardware costs, software costs, licensing fees, media costs, labor costs and datacenter costs so each strategy can be compared side-by-side to help you better understand the true TCO of your backup strategy.

We normalized costs of all three strategies around a "cost per TiB of primary storage protected per year" metric, accounting for upfront hardware costs, licensing and maintenance costs, media costs and even datacenter costs to come to a standard unit cost that can be used to compare the true cost of each backup strategy.


Key Takeaways from the Analysis

The True Cost of Tape

Hardware costs are the largest contributor to tape backup TCO.  Upfront hardware costs for tape drives, tape libraries and media servers really increase the TCO as that hardware is typically depreciated over 5 years.  The hardware costs of tape backup account for 40-43% of tape backup TCO. 

Software costs around tape include the NDMP-based backup software that will manage your backups.  Tape backup software vendors charge on a multitude of factors, but our customer research has found these costs typically account for about 39% of tape backup TCO.

The third major driver of tape backup costs is management - people's time in swapping tapes, managing restores, dealing with offsite storage, maintaining hardware and dealing with backup job failures - management costs of tape account for 12-20% of tape backup costs.

The True Cost of Replication

Hardware costs lead the way for replication based backup - varying between 37-56% of replication's TCO.  The large range is due primarily to density and the required performance of the secondary storage tier.

Software costs come in a close second as a contributor to replication's TCO.  Software costs account for 35-47% of replication TCO. 

Management costs are minor for replication's TCO - typically accounting for just 4-12% of a replication strategy's cost.

The True Cost of Cloud Backup

Lastly, we look at a cloud backup strategy using Igneous as the software provider with Azure as a cloud backup target.  The cost drivers change dramatically here, with 80-90% of the costs coming from the software component that manages both data protection and data transport to the cloud target.

For this comparison, we included cloud storage, cloud ingress, cloud egress and on-prem VM costs in the "Hardware" category - but an optimized backup to cloud solution that minimizes ingress/egress fees and uses VMs instead of on-prem hardware really cut hardware costs down - bringing them to just 6-14% of the cloud backup TCO. 

Igneous can also write backup datasets to existing on-prem storage hardware, but we looked at cloud targets for the purpose of this analysis as cloud is our most commonly requested target for enterprise backup workloads.

Igneous is delivered as a SaaS solution, so management costs around setup and operations are very low - management costs average just 3-4% of this solution.


What You'll Get in the Full Whitepaper


While key cost drivers are interesting, what IT leaders should really be focusing on is the actual cost per TiB of primary storage protected per year for each strategy, which is revealed in the whitepaper. 

Because environments differ by vendor selection, performance needs and scale - we've broken these costs down into a range for each strategy based on customer research, vendor research, analyst reports and third-party sources.

Finally, we provide a real-world scenario of the cost to protect 1 petabyte of enterprise data using each strategy - so you can see a full breakdown of how the hardware, software, datacenter and management costs add up for each solution.

We hope you find this whitepaper interesting and use it as a tool to help you evaluate the TCO of your existing backup solution as well as better understand the potential cost savings of transitioning your data protection strategy to a more modern solution that can maximize data protection performance, while minimizing costs, management overhead and on-prem datacenter footprint requirements.