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Backup and Recovery: Another Planning Issue
Designing backup and recovery architecture is another important storage planning issue.
Peter Hunter, product marketing manager at EqualLogic, says the first step in building a backup and recovery architecture is to implement an infrastructure capable of isolating and minimizing data movements. The foundation to this strategy starts with a SAN.
Data, Hunter says, can move more freely in a networked storage environment, and, by using snapshots, application servers can be liberated from the task of having to stream large I/O operations from the application server to the backup device or backup server. Instead, the application server simply requests that the storage array take a snapshot — an instant point-in-time copy of the data that resides on the SAN itself — and then the backup server mounts the snapshot and moves it to a tape device. The application server is never burdened with having to move the actual data, greatly improving backup operations, and administrators gain the option of snapshot recovery from disk, the fastest of all backup recovery techniques.
Backup has traditionally been a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, with a lot of data moving from servers to tape libraries. With snapshots there is less data movement, turning backup servers into automated data coordinators. "Snapshots, by their nature as a point-in-time image of the database that captures only the changes to the data at any given moment, are lightweight, easy and inexpensive to store, even over long distances, and restoration from snapshots is instantaneous, reliable, and accurate," says Hunter.
Snapshots can be replicated offsite to geographically isolated locations for maximum data protection. Disaster tolerance through replication is now accessible to a broader market with the adoption of iSCSI, the storage protocol based on commodity IP technology, Hunter says. "No longer are expensive SAN bridging equipment and specialized storage networking expertise required," he says.
Robert MacIntyre, vice president of business development and marketing at Netex, believes that storage vendors are on the right track in proving best of breed backup and recovery applications capable of operating over IP infrastructures. "IP is the network of today as well as the network of the future," he says.
MacIntyre suggests that storage vendors focus their development resources on providing the right application features for their customers. He believes doing so will eventually make storage more affordable and accessible. "Many storage vendors have attempted to solve transport issues as part of the storage offering," he says. "I believe that storage vendors should concentrate on storage-related features and leave the transport issues to vendors that are best suited for enhancing application performance and data movement between locations."
In order to predict future storage requirements and let management accurately plan for future storage purchases, it is vital for end users to be able to calculate a server's storage resources. There are other concerns as well, including which storage functions should an end user outsource, and which should remain in house. What are the best practices and strategies for designing, implementing, and managing storage of digital archives? How is the storage industry changing and what are the important trends? The final part of this series will answer those questions and also offer views on best practices for managing storage infrastructure.