Backup, recovery, and replication: Here’s what the experts are saying

 In Hardware, Storage

Data is your company’s most valuable asset, and protecting it in case of a disaster should be one of your IT department’s top priorities. However, there are many different options to take when it comes to your data protection strategy. Among them, backup, recovery, and replication are considered some of the most important.

To further understand these critical pieces of data protection, we consulted a team of SHI’s experts on the subject, with expertise across the data protection board. Here’s what they had to say.

Why you need a data protection strategy

“There is a man who lives by his own law. His name is Murphy, and he is out to ruin your customer’s day. Modern IT is a business driver. Thus, availability of IT infrastructure (and therefore data protection) is key.” – Jordan Hunter, Presales Systems Engineer, Veeam

“Data protection is the backbone of any good information governance strategy and is also a critical part of addressing important regulations.” – Tim Krause, Presales Systems Engineer, Veritas

“Whether it be a destructive force of nature, a virus infecting mission-critical systems, or any other event that can bring about downtime, every day could bring a new form of disaster, so it’s important to understand the data protection processes that can help you be prepared. Organizations should take the proper measures to safeguard data from corruption and loss so they can get back up and running.” –Kevin Kehoe, Presales Systems Engineer, CommVault

“Data protection is no longer an expensive data insurance policy. With new tools capable of mining and analyzing data in storage pools, companies can transform their backups into assets that not only protect their business, but help them to understand and use data they already have like never before.” – James Mazzaro, Solution Architect, Data Center

Backups are used to protect data from loss, especially historical data. Doing regular backups and keeping those backups ensures you will be able to recover a file or server to a specific point in time, as long as you have that backup. Backups can also be used to meet compliance requirements.” – C.R. O’Brien, Solution Architect, Data Center

Why backups alone aren’t enough

Each data protection method has inherent strengths and weaknesses as well as cost vs. effort factors to consider. Multiple layers of data protection may be required to meet a customer’s design goals. Not every solution is appropriate for each customer environment, but generally a combination of two or more technologies, or a single technology that can provide multiple data protection functionalities, is recommended.

Backups are generally best for individual file and database recovery, with moderate to long-term retention. However, relying on backups alone for full system or full site recovery will not provide a speedy enough recovery for most customer needs. Backups alone are inefficient for records compliance or extremely long-term retention. They are best at providing daily, weekly, and monthly copies of data and work well for both files (unstructured data) and databases (structured data).” – Paul Coffey, Director of Data Center Practice, ESG

“Often data protection plans include both backups and replication. Virtual machines, databases, or file shares that require very quick recovery from a production system failure are replicated to other servers and storage, often in another data center, and those standby servers are ready to become active when needed. In addition, backups are regularly done so that a user-deleted file or email can be recovered days or weeks later, or to meet compliance requirements for data retention.” – C.R. O’Brien

Why recovery should be a priority

“Once, while evaluating a possible new solution, I explained to my manager that the backups were working but I was having trouble with restores. His forceful response was the best advice I ever received about data protection: ‘Backup is recovery! BACKUP IS RECOVERY!’ There is no purpose to backing up data unless it can be quickly and efficiently recovered.” – Tim Krause

“By backing up your data to another storage medium, such as a secondary disk array, you’re provided with another copy of your data that can be leveraged to get you back up and running if anything happens. However, your backups are only as a good as your ability to recover. You should always test backups by restoring to an out-of-place location, since without the ability to recover the data, the backups are rendered useless. Backup and recovery truly do go hand-in-hand.” – Kevin Kehoe

Why you need replication

“Replication takes data protection a step further, where you can send additional copies of the data out to other locations, like a site in a different geographic location, or even to the cloud. By having multiple copies of data across multiple locations, you’re provided with more restore points in case of disaster. While it’s always good to have a local copy of your backups in case a restore is necessary, if something were to happen to that storage medium, a replicated copy can help save your data.”— Kevin Kehoe

“Replication is used to create an exact copy of data. As files are added or changed, those changes are immediately synchronized to the replica copy. The latest changes are instantly updated in the replica, meaning the time to recover from a failed system is very low. However, replication cannot always prevent data lost to an accidentally deleted file or data lost to a virus.” – C.R. O’Brien

“Replication is a necessity for recovery; having replicated copies of backups is the only true way to ensure recovery in a disaster event.” – Tim Krause

On another front, the cloud is becoming a player in data protection this year. I have seen a definite spike in companies interested in using the cloud not only as an archiving solution, but for disaster recovery and long term storage. Now that Azure is supported on both the commercial and government side with the release of NetBackup 8.1, we are seeing a huge spike in implementations.” –James Mazzaro

For more information on data protection and the options available to you, contact your SHI account executive.

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