Many businesses in the UK are still using agent-based backup and recovery solutions (normally either a tape or a disk-to-disk (D2D) product). Whilst these products do the job on the whole they do have a direct impact on your data security, recoverability, and costs. It’s important that all IT managers should understand the downsides that accompany agent-based solutions and whether it’s time for them to consider an agentless backup solution:
1. Compromised security
A port in the firewall must be opened for every agent. Since almost every agent has administrative privileges, it effectively creates vulnerability in the server architecture. Hackers need only to tap into the agent to attack the server. With no in-flight encryption, agents put data at risk during transmission from the remote office to the data centre.
2. More pieces of software to manage and to fail
More sites, more data, more applications, more users, more systems, more agents—growth makes everything harder to manage—agents only compound the problem. As infrastructure expands in size and complexity, problem diagnosis takes longer. Every operating system upgrade (now implemented monthly by many organisations) creates more opportunities for conflicts amongst applications, including proliferating backup agents.
3. Exorbitant licensing fees
Traditional software vendors charge for software based on the old per-system model. This is costly and requires customers to closely monitor their complex system and user landscapes. For many growing organisations, buying a site license is actually a simpler solution — albeit even more costly and often unnecessary — than trying to keep track of backup products installed across hundreds or thousands of machines.
4. Mounting administrative costs
Heterogeneous application environments can be administrative nightmares when backup processes require the installation and management of a different agent for every kind of database, application and operating system. It takes time and a lot of ‘touching’ of remote-site systems to push agents and upgrades out to every server. Each time a data centre administrator or service provider has to deploy an agent, or intervene to support it at a remote site, cost rolls back into the business model making it increasingly difficult to remain competitive.
To put licensing and administrative costs in perspective, an enterprise with as few as five offices can easily spend £35,000 to purchase and maintain backup agents for file/print servers, email servers, databases, and workstations. For larger organisations with thousands of backup agents, licensing and support costs can quickly add up to millions of pounds.
5. Application disruption
Each time a hot fix or new version of the software is released, the agents must be upgraded too. This upgrade process requires a reboot of the server that the agent resides on. Unfortunately, this application disruption must be repeated for every affected server on the network.
6. Resource drain
Agents steal processing power from the core applications of every machine on which they’re installed. Multiplied over thousands of machines, that extra power requirement can mean significant cost increases and a much larger carbon footprint to boot.