Data Backups and the Holes in your Socks

Data back up and disaster recovery are both complicated and crucial. It is all about planning, attention to detail and faultless execution.

By way of a parable:

Imagine that you are all dressed up for a special occasion. You know that appearance is important. You try everything in your power to look your best. Except, the socks you are wearing have huge holes in them. Now imagine that you are going to a place that requires you to take off your shoes (e.g. a Japanese restaurant, a house of worship or your mother in law’s living room). Not good, right?

In our reality:

In data backup and disaster recovery, this scenario is more the norm than the exception. We relegate back up to a secondary IT role, performed as a task by a junior staff member, on generally older technology platforms. Everything that everyone can see and use, desktops and applications, is snazzy. It is only when a disaster strikes- power failure, database corruption, virus- that the lack of attention to detail is brought to the forefront- for everyone to see.

There are two types of metrics that need to be determined first. What is the recovery point objective (RPO) and what is the recovery time objective (RTO)? The RPO tells you how much data you need to back up and from what point. The RTO tells you how long of a lag you can tolerate in having that data unavailable.

Thankfully, there are a number of technologies that are available to optimize both.

DISK: YOUR FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE

Disk to Disk to Tape (D2D2T) strategies have gained popularity in recent years due to the great disparity between the devices being backed up (disks), the network carrying the backup, and the devices receiving the backup (tape).

D2D2T strategies solve this problem by placing a high-speed buffer between the fragmented, disk-based file systems and databases being backed up and the hungry tape drive. This buffer is a disk-based storage system designed to receive slow backups and supply them very quickly to a high-speed tape drive.

DEDUPE: THE DISK ENABLER

Typical backups create duplicate data in two ways: repeated full backups and repeated incrementals of the same file when it changes multiple times. A deduplication system identifies both situations and eliminates redundant files, reducing the amount of disk necessary to store your backups.

BACKING UP AS YOU GO

CDP (continuous data protection) is another increasingly popular disk-based backup technology. Think of it as replication with an undo button.

Every time a block of data changes on the system being backed up, it is transferred to the CDP system. However, unlike replication, CDP stores changes in a log, so you can undo those changes at a very granular level. In fact, you can recover the system to literally any point in time at which data was stored within the CDP system.

One of the biggest challenges of managing a backup infrastructure is that no one wants the job. In large companies, the backup admin position is an ever-revolving door staffed time and time again with junior people. In smaller companies, backing up the infrastructure is a peripheral duty that is often ignored. The result is the same in both cases: bad backups.

Cloud backup services take advantage of many of the technologies mentioned here, but allow customers to use the service without having to manage the process or invest in the equipment required to optimize the back up. Instead, customers simply install a piece of software on the systems being backed up, and the cloud backup service does the rest. But as with any backup system, make sure you have a way to verify that backups are working the way they’re supposed to.

By selecting the right cloud back up provider, using the right network bandwidth and the correct recovery time and recovery point objectives, the whole problem is reduced to one of intent. You have to recognize the importance of back up, you have to determine the objectives and test the model. For more information, call us at 847 329 8600 or check out our You Tube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/PrimeTelecomInc/videos).

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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