With data growing at an exponential rate and electronic data being used in more and more critical business applications than ever before, data protection and the backup/archive measures involved have become central to the success of any company. Many companies do understand the need for backup, and subsequent recovery. Storage arrays and individual hard disks or SSDs for users are available in various storage technologies, and offered at an increasingly lower cost. Unfortunately, most IT shops simply copy all their files to free disk locations. Many copy procedures are periodic, and performed without considerations for version control or data lifecycle. This is inadequate, and, in many cases, an effort that seldom considers recovery. Backup is much more than adding secondary storage hardware. Moreover, backend copies do not address the business requirements for data protection. Companies need to take an organized and systematic approach towards both data backups and archives, and an additional disaster recovery copy of each if they wish to remain afloat in the event of data loss or inaccessibility.
1. Understand the Data
All data is not created equal and it is important to understand the business value of data before deciding what, when and how to backup or archive. For instance, some data may not actually be valuable to a user, such as 10 year old tax records. It may become necessary to archive for legal purposes, however. Some data, such as incoming promotional mail or disregarded proposals, may be useless, and backing it up will probably mean wasteful expenses in both physical and human resources.
2. Frame a Storage and Retention Policy
Create the right data retention and storage policy based on the worth of the data in question and business needs. As a rule of thumb, for critical data, it is best to keep two full copies, one as a backup or archive copy for immediate restore and another on a separate physical device in a remote location for disaster recovery situations. Apart from the worth of the data, the recovery objectives set the framework for the entire data protection solution you own. Recovery centers on recovery time and recovery point (RTO and RPO). Recovery time objectives (RTO) simply describe how long you can wait for a recovery to take place. Can you wait 2 hours, or 2 days to get your data back? At what point does the recovery time affect business? Recovery point objectives (RPO) defines the amount of time allowable before you backup again. In essence, in today’s primarily disk-based backups, recovery points describe the maximum time between backups. Are daily backups enough? Can you recreate a lost day if backups are once a day?
3. Evaluate Options
There are more options than backing up data to a recoverable location. Consider various storage and backup options based on the data policy. For instance, almost all data should be backed up today to disk storage, but automated tiered data policies can move older files, databases, etc. to cheaper storage – even to offsite cloud. When there is a need to synchronize backed up or archived data that will be run through content or discovery functions network attached storage (NAS) may be a better option. Virtualized machines change recovery scenarios by allowing you to “stand up” a backed up VM for a restore.
4. Identify a Suitable Partner
It is important to select data storage and backup partner who has a strong and flexible infrastructure, covers all or almost all of the varied requirements, has flexible plans to accommodate client needs and offers excellent technical support. We are biased towards appliance implementations that provide simple building blocks for architecting a solution, and comprehensive support for the entire data protection solution. Compatibility between components and the ability for a solution to adopt new technologies over time are the hallmarks for an appliance implementation. Check appliance vendors for scalability, performance, availability and fault tolerance.
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