Like all IT technologies, data backup software is quickly evolving and becoming simpler and more useful to businesses. This is critical as we have entered a time with massive data breaches and cyber terrorism, in addition to the normal IT outages that can threaten to eliminate businesses of any size business.
When backup software was first introduced it was based on file-level technology; backing up individual files. This was effective when a user accidently deleted a spreadsheet or an email that needed to be recovered. However, in the event of the failure of an entire server, or multiple servers, the restore process was painful. Many times, the Operating Systems (OS) were not backed up. The IT professional would need to rebuild the system hardware, load the proper version of the operating system and restore files one by one. This process was prone to errors and very time consuming; it would be common to take a week to restore one server.
The exponential growth of data storage, and the widespread use of server virtualization, allowed backup software manufacturers to offer Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) that were never dreamt of before. Virtualization technology, such as industry leader VMware, transforms physical servers to virtual machines (VM’s) that can be backed up at an image level. Image level backups of a VM include an OS that can be restored quickly with much less concern of matching hardware requirements. With all the growth in data most larger organizations have separated their backup and replication processes, both technologically and geographically.
Innovative companies such as Veeam Software have developed solutions that focus on virtualized machines (VM’s) and make creating backup simple and repeatable. Other forward-thinking companies like Zerto have focused on replication, meaning they work toward a Disaster Recovery (DR) process. What once was a week-long process of recovering a lost server now takes place in minutes at a relatively low cost!
So now that the technology has simplified the recovery process for an IT outage, it is important to set processes and metrics for your backups. A good place to start is the 3-2-1 rule. Three copies, on two different media, with one off site.
Having a tape backup and taking it to a safe deposit box every week doesn’t provide the business continuity assurances needed in today’s business environment. It is widely accepted as best practice to have the first backup copy (of 3) onsite and always on a media that can be restored quickly. An example of this would be a disk or Network Attached Storage (NAS) that is available to restore the “deleted file” quickly and without need to look any further than the company’s own server room.
Although tapes have outlived some of their usefulness to the company’s backup process, it is still frequently the second type of media used in the 3-2-1 rule. Tape is a good, reliable source to archive data that may not need to be restored quickly. Data that’s required to be saved for years, such as data governed under regulatory compliance, can be archived and stored on tape at a fraction of the cost of disk or cloud.
Finally, it is a universally accepted best practice that a company should have (at least) one backup copy off site. Today’s off site copy typically isn’t kept in a safe deposit box or safe at the CEO’s home. Most companies today have at least a portion of their backup in a hardened, audited, multi-tenant data center such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS. These have pre-configured virtualized platforms created so that their customers can transmit their backups automatically. This will require a secure internet connection or a dedicated point-to-point connection for increased security and guaranteed speed. This type of solution will allow a company to run their applications directly from their datacenter backup minutes after a power outage or building disaster has occurred. It is important to take the time to become familiar with current backup and DR technologies and work with best practices such as the 3-2-1 rule.
For more information on building your back-up and recovery strategies, reach me by phone or email below.
Jim Conwell (513) 227-4131 firstname.lastname@example.org www.twoearsonemouth.net