Building Blocks: Integrated Backup, Recovery
Backup and recovery are equally important building blocks of the disaster recovery process, and when integrated effectively they give SMB operators a formidable, bounce-back response. The backup-and-recovery solution has to be scaled to the size of their operations – not the overkill of a mega-enterprise solution or the frustrating inadequacy of a solution that does too little. Is the cost of the solution rational? Can it back-up and restore the valuable data that lives at remote offices and on widely-traveled laptops as well as at the corporate data center?
With these caveats in mind, let’s review four basic ways to make a backup-and-recovery solution more powerful and cost-effective:
1. Minimize the duplication window
The real power of an effective backup-and-recovery solution lies in its ability to do its job with the least possible effect on operations. Full-scale backups, formerly a time-consuming necessary evil, can now be replaced in most cases by smaller, less-disruptive, incremental backups that can be seamlessly combined into one. This approach gives you other significant benefits: it reduces tape media usage and provides better indexing, which in turn results in faster restore times.
A backup/recovery solution with a disk-to-disk inline copy feature can consolidate the cost of remote/offsite archiving by allowing for one primary target and up to three secondary targets. Disk staging also shrinks the duplication window. It combines the performance of faster, disk-based storage with the many advantages of tape media.
2. Set up complete off-site management of backups and archives
Managing back-up duplication and offsite media can involve procedures that are complex and tedious. But technologies now available can automate the entire process. They enable you to set policies that control backup duplications – the conditions that trigger them, and the specifics of what data goes where, including the movement of tapes from an offsite vault. While your backup and recovery solution is putting these policies to work, you and your staff will be free to work with other departments to restore business processes.
3. Automate server recovery
Software is now available that restores a server operating environment in minutes in a simple two-step process with almost no user intervention. Step one: a single command line or GUI command initiates the recovery process. In a few seconds, the restore is configured. Step two: the user boots the system from local media or over the network, and the recovery solution recreates the server’s operating environment, installing the operating system and configuring the hardware. The solution can also restore user data. Your mission-critical systems are back on line in far less time than manual procedures could ever permit. Extensive training and lengthy administration procedures are unnecessary.
This solution prepares for recovery by automatically capturing all system configurations, including TCP/IP settings and disk configuration, as part of every scheduled full or incremental backup service. On recovery, a point-in-time restore takes the system to the last successful backup or to the prior backup. If the failure has brought down multiple servers, the solution can restore them in parallel to reduce recovery time. Are you running a heterogeneous environment with multiple operating systems? Your solution should be able to recover all systems using the same procedure, restoring file systems, applications, and user files, and automatically rebooting each restored server.
What if you have to restore a Windows environment, but you can’t find an identical system? Or what if you want to migrate or upgrade the environment to new hardware from the same vendor, or even from another vendor? Your solution should be able to do it automatically, even if you didn’t know in advance what the new hardware would be. It should make all the necessary changes, from inserting new drivers to changing system files, regardless of the differences in hardware.
4. Integrate backup and recovery with replication
Your complete backup and recovery solution should include a capability for remote real-time replication or mirroring of data over a storage area network or any IP network. Having current data immediately available at an alternate location can greatly accelerate recovery. The technology should be heterogeneous and flexible, capable of replicating data from remote offices and employee laptops. It should ensure data integrity and application availability.
Disaster Recovery Made Simple
The technology now exists to automate recovery from a major event such as server failure. Inline copying and incremental backup reduce the duplication window. An integrated approach to backup, replication, and recovery, and the routine capture of the operating environment, enables an automated server restore that puts mission-critical files and applications back online in a matter of minutes with minimal user intervention. For SMBs particularly, these advances provide a powerful line of defense against loss of productivity and revenue when systems inevitably fail.
Shawn Aquino is the senior product marketing manager for Veritas Software.