Planning For a Crisis: Dedicated Deduplication Can Help

It usually starts with a crisis.

A critical server fails and the next thing you know, you or your entire team is knee-deep in desperate triage to save whatever you can, not to mention keep the business running.  Or it’s right before a key moment when irreplaceable documents go missing and the boss needs them back pronto.  Or – and this really happened - you’re the IT manager for a state legislature and EVERYTHING goes down about ½ hour before the opening session of the year. Yikes.

It usually starts with a crisis, but it doesn’t have to.

Disaster recovery and data backup decisions are way too often made on the fly, in desperation, after a storm has passed. Having dodged a bullet, you may say, “man, we gotta do something differently.”  Or while you’re in the midst of searching through mountains of tape for that missing file, you might realize things just can’t go on the way they have been going.  But when things happen – and in the IT world something ALWAYS happens – a bit of planning goes a long way from keeping your head from aching time and again.

Planning.  We keep talking about that here in this blog because really, it can’t be said enough. Planning is the key.  Especially with data growth and availability expectations, we know in our guts that we have to do something with our data. As Dr. Srinidhi Varadarajan, notes in Deduplication: Effectively reducing the cost of backup and storage, ‘you have to store your data somewhere for whatever reason (archiving, regulations, good policy, etc.) and you’ll need to recover something at some point.  The starting point, as Srinidhi also says, is this: the big question every IT manager has to ask him or herself is: what am I backing up? And why? 

 Let’s look at what one company did to address some of its concerns. Keep in mind, every organization is different, but there are always lessons learned from someone else’s experience.

ISC8 is a security company whose intelligent solutions empower cyber security professionals to more accurately assess serious threats by including the largely missing inside-out protection so that their organization doesn’t become “the next big headline.”  As they like to say, cyber-attacks happen in real time. And with ISC8, so does security.

Overtime, ISC8 began to see that its data was growing exponentially and it urgently needed a new backup strategy in order to protect all of its intellectual property. As Scott Millis, Chief Security Strategy Officer at ISC8 noted, “Virtually all of it is comprised of digital assets,” many of which were at risk. Not only that, the IT staff was spending upwards of 10 percent either babysitting backups that had failed or scrambling to deal with crises that had come up. Sound familiar?

After much reflection, Millis decided the best route for ISC8 was robust disaster and recovery software along with a deduplication appliance, because of the spiraling data growth.  Not only that, Millis knew they needed redundancy and so began to replicate only the changed data between one ISC8 office and another, so that at any moment, they could recover to a specific point in time that they themselves had set.

 The key features of the new system directly linked back to the original wants and needs of the original plan:

  • Built-in replication and compress helped reduce the data footprint and save money.
  • New technology enables administrators to track data prior to backup, to ensure only changed data delivered, saving resources.
  • Dedicated deduplication to further minimize the backup footprint and to save staff time.

 For ISC8 the deduplication appliance was a key factor in planning for future data growth (remember, you have to store your data somewhere) as well as in protecting their assets over time. “We are able to run all of our weeklies in just a few hours. To date we have protected 78TB of data, using only 2.55TB of physical storage on the DR4100. This is about a 31:1 ratio,” says Millis. 

So what’s your data growth plan?  That proverbial adage still hold true:  an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Or should we say, 78TB worth of cure.