Let's face it, there is no single perfect backup solution. Whether you are looking into tape, disk or some sort of virtual solution, there are bound to be trade-offs in speed, convenience, cost, and a host of other factors.
So while it is important to have a mix of solutions at your disposal, it is worth mentioning that a number of new RAID-based disk systems are reducing the complexity that has plagued the technology.
One of the key developments has been the addition of RAID-capable drive controllers in many off-the-shelf PCs of late. With the cost of RAID migration heading up, it's comforting to know that at least the PC vendors are offering the foundation for advanced backup capabilities. Most configurations rely on Intel's Matrix Storage Console available for 2003 Server, XP and Vista.
A number of storage vendors are waking up to the fact that disk-based storage need only be one facet of a broader backup scheme. Overland Storage, for example, has combined a RAID system with a virtual tape library in the REO 9100 system. It combines a 3Ware SATA RAID 5 controller with 4 Gbps Fibre Channel or iSCSI connectivity and up to 32 virtual tape drives to deliver up to 66 TB of storage.
Still others are touting a strictly disk-to-disk approach. Revinetix claims in a new white paper that its RAID system provide advantages when it comes to speedy backup and restore, as well as reliability and hardiness in the face of adverse environmental conditions.
And MicroNet has taken an innovative approach to overcoming I/O bottlenecks on the way to the RAID controller. Through new eSATA HBA and RAID controller designs, the Platinum RAID Pro lays waste to the 2 TB volume size limitation plaguing most eSATA arrays, bumping capacity up to 5 TB. The system sports a 64-bit Intel processor with 128 MB of error-correcting cache.
Even though it's been around a while, RAID technology is still evolving. It may not meet all of your backup needs, but it's almost essential to have in the mix somewhere.