Devise a Game Plan for Better Data Protection and Recovery

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Your organization’s growth might require changes in data backup and recovery management techniques, especially if existing hardware and networking schemes have expanded or be redefined. The best management plans handle data coherently across the entire system. The worst approach, and the most costly to the bottom line, provides for trying to manage data on a server-by-server basis.

The recent changes in e-technologies and e-business models mean rethinking and readjusting the methodologies used to backup, protect, and secure mission-critical data for recovery in case of a disaster. Networking environments have changed radically over the past few years. The move to data warehousing, data mining, and e-commerce business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions has added administrative burdens to already-over worked IT staffs.

The requirements of 24 x 7 data availability, and the shortage of personnel for around-the-clock management, have helped lead to remotely managed lights-out sites. This kind of environment is a true management challenge any way it is approached, and finding the correct formula for the solution is not the cut-and-dried implementation that works for simple local area networks.

The first step is to qualify the current network hardware and software, particularly in terms of how much data will be held on the servers, the amount of data that is handled on a daily basis, the devices already in place to perform data backup and recovery, and the software running those devices. Analyze how the current network configuration is administered and managed: how many servers, their location, where they are administered from, where and how the data is backed up. Look at the current disaster recovery plan to see how it fits in.

The next plan is an analysis of future needs. The current business plan should provide some kind of guideline on the future needs that must be planned for, such as adding additional employees, functions, or business processes.

Then, analyze disaster recovery plans, and how often data is updated or exchanged if off-site storage is used. Review the current management techniques to decide if this growth will dictate new management techniques, and if there are problems that require solutions. The biggest change may be to redesign data backup management techniques to accommodate business growth.

An ideal solution will allow an you to go enterprise-wide for data backup. Any software solution for data backup and recovery management should:

— work over an entire network/server setup from a central location, and be operating-system independent;
— not impose constraints on the development of a backup plan, and easily adapt to future growth;
— send data to the best backup device available – whether across the network or the local bus of the server while considering network speed and bandwidth requirements, the amount of time available for backups, and the availability and capacity of the backup devices;
— run concurrent backups – which is more efficient and minimizes server downtime – from different machines, thus shortening the time span in which data is temporarily unavailable;
— feature automatic task scheduling managed from a central location, eliminating the need for you to perform hands-on backups on each machine;
— use any server as the central administrative point for managing data backups, giving flexibility in designing a backup solution to match current network configurations and future growth;
— incorporate one-button disaster recovery;
— automatically move the data to a different backup device if the primarily backup device is unavailable or full;
— track and manage the location of the backed-up data automatically, so that you know exactly what is on each piece of media; and
— handle large amounts of data and multiple machines robustly, and allow the you full control over all the data and each machine.

Once a coherent plan has been developed to accommodate the current and future business needs, with room for future growth, you should carry it out quickly. Careful attention should be given t each state of implementation, to assure that the solution in workable. Practice disaster recovery restores should be tested with new software and hardware to make sure it will work when needed.

You need to know that the backup system in place will work each and every time. Initiate the backup plan, and monitor it to make sure the backups are performed correctly. Any data backup plan needs to be reviewed annually or semi-annually to make sure it is on track with the business’ actual growth, is delivering the kind of protection the business needs, and is not breaking the bank to administer and maintain. This review process can fit naturally into most businesses’ financial scheduling and budget planning periods.

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