I backup my data already. But is that enough?

You might think you have good data backup plan, but do you know what to do when you lose your data or when your business has to relocate in an emergency? How often do you have your team go through a restore of your backup? How fast can you access protected data when you need it? Backup and restore used to be an afterthought for admins – today you must have a detailed plan put together for both.

I talk to customers weekly about this topic – and the context of data protection seems to always be framed in the context of a flood or tornado but more likely I listen to my customers ask me “How can you help me roll out my business to a different location?  How can I avoid extended periods of downtime due to change management to ensure business continuity?

DR is not only about how fast you can restore backups. It’s really about having a plan, knowing exactly what is required to bring your business back online when something unforeseen happens, I always suggest testing failover bi-annually to ensure the processes have been learned by your staff. You might hear of terms like having amazing recovery point objectives (RPOs) and quick recovery time objectives (RTO), but if you are not prepared, backup may not be of much use to you. This is something that I’ve seen from both sides of the coin. In 2012 I was part of the operations staff for a mid-sized firm in southern NJ. At that time we were doing traditional data backup to tape and offloading to Iron Mountain. We never did any disaster recovery drills, our DR was a diesel fueled generator in case we lost power. We never in a million years thought or anticipated we would be hit head on by a hurricane. I remember when Hurricane Sandy hit we lost power within the hour – the generator came on but what we didn’t think of was that we would be out of power for 2 weeks and that getting diesel fuel was also going to be a challenge.

Our normal providers were under siege or just didn’t have fuel and those who had it of course started to charge extravagant premiums. The amount of stress of almost getting to an empty tank before we found vendors from the tristate area to deliver fuel was enough to put gray hair on my scalp.

A few years ago, it was more than acceptable to sit down and wait for staff to rebuild a server and to take the time to restore backups. This process would sometime take 24 hrs, and that was fine! We had to find out what tape had the data and get them back from Iron Mountain and so on. Today, that approach just isn’t possible. In today’s world our data is everything and access to that data can be the difference between survival and death of the business.

The moral of the story is that it is imperative to have a DR plan. You may have invested in backup software and even a backup appliance. However, when you start thinking about recovery, you may see your data protection objectives in a very different way and conclude that you must invest in DR to complement your backup. Replication is key in this philosophy; whether your data flows to a co-location or now what seems to be trending; AWS or Azure, it’s the only way to ensure the continuity of your business when recovering from either a crashed server or an entire site outage. Quest’s Rapid Recovery is built to deploy protection at your primary data center as well as be able to scale out to either a second location or establish cloud connections within the product for data archiving.

One of the most robust features of the product is the ability to interact with your saved data at any time, no more looking for the tape; rehydrate and recover – I can simply browse my recovery points and mount that data set. The days of waiting for data to be recovered whether it’s for a single file or recovery of a site failure the product you choose for your business’ disaster continuity plan has to be able to handle all the challenges we face today as well as evolve as those challenges evolve.