Unstructured Data Dilemma: Finding a Backup Strategy That Won’t Break the Bank


This pricing model starkly contrasts with the fixed licensing fee we’d incur for virtual machine backups, irrespective of data volume. Introducing a NAS target suddenly inflates the price to nearly half a million dollars due to the per-terabyte backup model, which seems exorbitant.

Is there a more cost-effective backup strategy for unstructured storage that avoids this hefty per-terabyte pricing, perhaps by presenting the storage as an iSCSI target or through other means that don’t involve manual intervention or significant expense? What alternatives exist to achieve a financially viable backup solution for our unstructured data?


The dilemma of backing up unstructured data without incurring exorbitant costs is a common challenge for many organizations. Traditional Network-Attached Storage (NAS) targets come with a pricing model that can be prohibitively expensive, especially when vendors charge by the terabyte. This situation often leads companies to seek alternative solutions that provide both efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

One potential solution is to present unstructured storage as an Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) target. iSCSI is a protocol that allows clients (called initiators) to send SCSI commands to SCSI storage devices (targets) over a network. By using iSCSI, the storage is treated as a block device, similar to how a virtual machine’s disk would be handled. This approach can trick backup software into treating the storage as a VM, thereby avoiding the per-terabyte pricing model.

Software-Defined Storage (SDS)

Another approach is to utilize Software-Defined Storage (SDS) solutions. SDS abstracts the storage resources and manages them through a software layer, which can provide more flexibility and often comes with more favorable pricing structures. Some SDS solutions are designed with unstructured data in mind and can integrate with existing backup solutions to provide a seamless experience.

Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud-based backup solutions can also be a viable alternative. They offer scalability and typically have a pay-as-you-go pricing model, which can be more affordable than traditional per-terabyte pricing. Moreover, cloud providers often have data deduplication and compression features that reduce the overall storage footprint and, consequently, the cost.

Open-Source Tools

Open-source tools are another avenue worth exploring. There are several robust open-source backup solutions that can handle unstructured data efficiently. While they may require more setup and management, the absence of licensing fees can result in significant cost savings.

Hybrid Approaches

A hybrid approach, combining on-premises and cloud storage, can also be cost-effective. This method allows for the critical data to be stored on-premises for quick access, while less frequently accessed data can be backed up to the cloud, benefiting from the cloud’s scalability and cost-efficiency.


In conclusion, while the per-terabyte pricing model for NAS targets can be steep, there are several strategies to back up unstructured data without breaking the bank. By considering alternatives such as iSCSI targets, SDS, cloud-based solutions, open-source tools, and hybrid approaches, organizations can find a backup solution that meets their needs both operationally and financially. It’s essential to evaluate each option carefully, considering factors such as total cost of ownership, ease of management, and scalability to ensure the chosen solution aligns with the company’s long-term data management strategy.

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