Determining how and where to back up your data partly involves understanding how much data changes in a given period, your recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) requirements, and applicable threat risks.
- Remote backup to your own facility or to a managed service provider (MSP) facility.
- Integrated backups with snapshots to reduce or minimize downtime for data backups.
- Bare-metal complete system recovery, including operating system, applications and data.
- Full or incremental backup of data that has changed since your last backup was performed.
- Desktop and laptop backup or server backup coupled with application integration.
- Disk-to-tape, disk-to-optical, disk-to-disk, disk-to-local or remote removable media.
For a complete backup, you will need to ensure that desktops and laptops, as well as servers, are backed up to enable complete restoration. Simply relying on users to save key data files to a server or shared file system that is regularly backed up does not guarantee a complete backup. For example, if users forget or neglect to save critical files to file servers, key data may be missed and not backed up. Similarly, if you are using a desktop-based backup product that looks at only certain folders or directories -- for example "My Documents" on a Windows environment -- you may not be protecting data stored elsewhere on that system.
Depending on what your data protection objectives are, you may need to leverage a desktop-backup product that enables complete protection of operating system, application and configuration information to facilitate bare-metal restore. Look for backup products that are flexible and extensible to enable you to tailor the technology to meet your specific needs and requirements on an application, server or even desktop basis.
When deciding how to back up your environment, consider the following:
- How much data needs to be backed up in a given amount of time?
- Is a candidate backup product or service optimized for distributed or local backups?
- What applications (Exchange, SQL, Oracle and others) need to be backed up?
- Are you looking for bare-metal backup and recovery or basic file recovery?
- What types of and how many servers need to be backed up, and in what time frame?
- What are the security, RTO and RPO requirements for different users and applications?
- Do you need to ensure that a copy of the data is kept local as well as off site?
- Can backed-up data be accessed as a file system or is the data in a container file?
- Is a candidate product targeted toward servers, desktop or both?
Technology and services vendors include Arsenal Digital Solutions USA Inc., Asigra Inc., Atempo Inc., Avamar Technologies Inc., CommVault Inc., EMC Insignia (Dantz & Retrospect), EVault Inc., FalconStor Software Inc., FilesX Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Tivoli, Innovation Data Processing, Intradyn Inc., Microsoft, Symantec Corp., Vembu Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and many others. Hardware, media and device vendors include Data Domain Inc., Diligent Technologies Corp., EMC Corp., Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Imation Corp./Memorex Products Inc., LeftHand Networks Inc., Network Appliance Inc., ONStor Inc., Overland Storage Inc., Quantum Corp., Seagate Technology/Maxtor Corp., Sepaton Inc., Sony, Spectra Logic Corp., Sun/STK, Tandberg and many others.
When leveraging an MSP as part of your backup and data protection strategy, keep in mind the amount of data that needs to be backed up and the available network bandwidth to ensure that data is protected on a timely basis. Depending on your needs, a multi-tier backup could involve disk-to-disk for local fast recovery and an off-site copy for disaster recovery and business continuance purposes to another media.
Greg Schulz is founder and senior analyst of The StorageIO Group in Stillwater, Minn., (www.storageio.com) and author of the book Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier).