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There are an almost infinite ways to run data storage backups incorrectly. But doing it correctly requires following a few tried and true practices. It’s important to adapt t data storage backup best practices so they can function well in the face of rapid technological advancement.
Here are the some tips on how to do just that:
Widen Your Scope
The narrow view is to look no further than making sure your data is backed up: it’s been sent over a wire to some target device and there it sits. That’s fine as long as you never have to recover anything. At that point, you may find you didn’t backup all your files, the backup failed, or the tape cartridge was corrupted. What it takes is a more complete view of the purpose of backup.
“Backup strategies that only focus on making a separate copy of data, once a day, with little visibility into the recoverability of that data are incapable of meeting the needs of the modern business,” said Paul Davis, Director of Product Management, Data Protection, Dell Software. Your end goal isn’t to backup data, it’s to keep your business up and running at all times, and the way to do that is to match your backup to your business.”
Any business that has been around for a decade or more is used to doing physical backups. And when virtualization came along, they often added separate software to take care of backing up virtual machines (VM). Brian Greene, Symantec’s senior director of product management, advises users to lower costs and simplify backup tasks by deploying a single system that can protect your physical and virtual infrastructure.
“This will eliminate managing two backup solutions, paying for two backup programs, running multiple backup jobs, and backing up duplicate data across physical and virtual,” said Greene. “Select backup that is integrated with VMware VAPIs and Microsoft VSS for fast snapshots. This will minimize CPU, memory, and I/O load performance impacts on the virtual host.”
These days most backup products either come with deduplication bundled in or they have a partnership relationship to provide it. And with good reason. Why backup the same PowerPoint 500 times that the boss sent to everyone in the company?
“Data deduplication decreases network traffic, and reduces the disk space required for storing backup files which saves you money on storage costs,” said Greene.
Use an Appliance
As many organizations are either slimming down their IT rosters or forcing them to a whole lot more with existing resources, it can sometimes make sense to channel the whole backup cycle over to a purpose-built backup and deduplication appliance (PBBA). These boxes take care of backup, deduplication and often simplify the recovery process too.
“PBBAs help storage administrators simplify their tasks by reducing the amount of data needed to be backed up and retained, as well as cutting the bandwidth needed to replicate the deduped data over the wire for disaster recovery to another deduplication appliance,” said Casey Burns, Senior Product Marketing Manager, DXi, Cloud and Virtualization Solutions, Quantum.
Establish the Pecking Order
Christophe Bertrand, Vice President of Product Marketing for Data Management, CA Technologies, recommends that users take a hard look at application and system criticality and establish a protection and recovery “pecking order” that also reflects the interdependency of related systems. For example, a mission-critical application may have feeder systems that need to be protected at the same level.
“It’s a tough exercise, but one that allows organizations to truly understand their recovery point and recovery time (RPO and RTO) needs, establish tiers of recovery, and therefore determine what the data protection levels need to be,” said Bertrand. “Not every application or piece of data is born equal.”
Perhaps things were simpler in the beginning. There was a small data center, a few servers and a relatively straightforward backup procedure. But IT infrastructures sprawl over time. You end up with a variety of backup programs, an entirely separate DR system, some kind of replication setup and several other layers of data protection. The problem is that it is usually cobbled together and integration is a real headache.
“Organizations should take a fully coordinated approach when it comes to various data protection technologies,” said Bertrand. “Guaranteeing RPO and RTO is difficult when disparate solutions are partially protecting a mixed or hybrid IT infrastructure.”