Insights from Jeremy Brovage who is one of our Storage Solutions Architects within SIS’ Infrastructure Solutions practice. Jeremy has more than 24 years’ experience with storage, backup and archive technologies, including 20 years as Spectrum Protect / Tivoli Storage Manager SME.
There are many back-up software applications on the market today. Some are specialized for a specific platform, some are for a specific application, but many are far-reaching and enterprise-scaled.
Backup software, like networking gear and Anti-Virus, touches many different parts of an IT organization’s equipment and software. Because of this, it presents unique licensing challenges. Figuring out “how much” of the software you need to buy can often be very difficult. Here’s a list of common models used for back-up software licensing:
- Per host – This was the traditional pricing model for many years with backup software. Each client costs a price, and each backup server costs a different (typically higher) price, with options for functions purchasable as enhancements to either the client or server. Say the client needs an integration module for Oracle data. There’s an additional charge for that. Perhaps the Backup server needs to share tape drives with another server, to help mitigate library and drive costs. There’s a cost for that, too. However, over time, new software features created a mire of line-items that made it difficult to price, so this is not as popular as before. This is still used, however with the added layer of “packages” that best suit a customer’s overall goals, with a-la-carte pricing for specialized features. For static organizations, this is a decent way to buy the software. However, a decision to change IT strategy can drastically impact backup costs. If a switch to virtualization is planned, the cost of new backup licenses must be considered when the costs of virtualization are measured.
- Per TB – Source – This is a more recent option, and is easier to calculate. The concept is to measure how much backup data is ingested during a “full” backup (even if one is never performed) and price the software per TB of that data. This one is a great option if your organization grows at a steady pace and you are ever-changing and/or diverse in how you conduct your IT workload. This model usually includes a suite of software (sometimes ALL the backup software features offered by a vendor) so there’s no need to worry about how much data is VM data, or Oracle, or MAIL, or even how that data is stored/organized/recovered in a disaster. This model doesn’t change if you have long data retention requirements either. Once the data is backed up, you can maintain it indefinitely and no additional costs are incurred.
- Per TB – Destination – This option measures how much storage is used where the backup data resides (disk or tape) and charges per TB on that usage. It is by far the easiest option to measure once a steady state is reached in your environment, but it can be difficult to estimate due to the inherent variables around storage techniques and data types. IT has the advantage of gaining value with compression and Deduplication, but the disadvantage of increasing costs with increasing retention. Lots of JPG images cost more to backup than highly compressible TXT files.
Per CPU/Core– This option follows a popular pricing model used by IBM, Oracle, VMWare, and many other big vendors. Each CPU (or Core) that is backed up or used for backup is measured/counted and assigned a value. That value is then used when buying the a-la-carte components or a suite of products. This is a fairly complicated process that means CPU upgrades/server upgrades often require additional software purchases, even if one host is replacing another.
Most vendors offer multiple ways to price their software. Given the varying types, the expense impact to your business makes this a key decision factor when considering switching your backup software vendor. For example, if your backup retention requirements dictate a long retention, and granular recovery (restore ANY backup from the past 2 years, down to a specific day), a “per TB – destination” licensing model would be very expensive, while the retention doesn’t change the cost at all for a “per TB – source” cost model.
Whatever model you choose, find out what is required from you to stay compliant in your software licensing. If the vendor expects CPU capacity reports, or periodic storage sizing measurements, knowing what you have to do to true-up is important as well.