The New Datacenter Backup Paradigm

Posted by Dominic Docherty on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 04:34 PM

As a company, we endeavor to provide best of breed solutions for our customers. We spend a great deal of time engaging with vendors and exploring new products and how these can best serve our customer base.


Data center backup is one of the areas that seemingly hasn't evolved much over the years. Most customers still believe that backing up to tape and storing the tapes off-site is a defacto requirement. We, however, believe that backing up to tape is a thing of the past. Tape backups are painful, period. Magnetic media is unreliable and vulnerable, and anyone who has ever tried to restore from from tape know that it is very time consuming and offers no guarantees. Why would anyone still use this as their primary backup medium?


From experience, backup requirements are usually determined the wrong way round. These requirements are usually driven by looking at the applications running in the organisation and then determining how critical they are to the business, and accordingly determining full and incremental/differential backup schedules using traditional backup applications and tape media. However, in reality these backups offer very little recourse in real world restore scenarios, and this is because initially, the incorrect question was asked.


The correct question to ask is: what am I most likely going to need to restore? What are the most common restore requests in our organisation? When engaging with customers and asking these questions we ask them to review the restore requests they have received from their users over the last 2-3 years. Almost all customers ultimately tend to have similar user restore requirements:


  • Restore accidentally deleted email
  • Restore accidentally deleted or the previous version of files (typically on a file share)
  • Restore data on the users desktop/laptop


From an IT operations perspective, the restore requirements are different:


  • Ability to restore data to a current and running state in the event of failure (hardware)
  • Protect data in the event of a site disaster (disaster recovery)


To address almost all these requirements, and greatly improve an organisations ability to offer much higher service levels, BIOS ME recommend NetApp storage solutions. These storage solutions, properly licensed, are ideally suited for providing application integrated backup and recovery solutions (SnapManagers), without ever needing to rely on a tape. By introducing a second storage array at a remote site, and replicating all data from the primary site, we further meet the disaster recovery requirement, and in most implementations achieve RPO's and RTO's of under 15 minutes. In conjunction with server virtualisation, we can even completely automate fail-over in the event of a disaster, with almost no data loss.


Imagine being able to restore a virtual machine to a running state instantly after a virus infection, or a destructive patch deployment. Or being able to restore a SQL or Oracle database to a previous state in seconds. Or restore a single email that a user accidentally deleted in minutes. Or being able to restore file shares in seconds. All without having to ever revert to a tape backup. 


To address the desktop/laptop backup and restore requirement, BIOS ME recommend CrashPlan, which is used by just about every Fortune 500 company, to address their end user backup requirements. This product has several unique features that combine to provide continuous backup, and also allows users to initiate their own restores in a user friendly interface. What further distinguishes this product is the ability to backup to multiple locations, and even gives customers the ability to choose to backup to their own infrastructure or to that of a service provider.


Both these backup technologies allow organisations to offer unprecedented levels of service to their users, and ensures minimal downtime in the event of data loss or disaster.

Topics: Storage Solutions, IT Back Up, Data Center


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