The 'Gotchas' of Backup and Recovery
Considerations and potential solutions for storage managers.
Today's Web-driven, distributed businesses provide storage administrators with the unique challenge of ensuring backup-data recoverability from across multiple platforms and locations. There are many considerations - technology, human influence, market pressures - that can be "gotchas" in backup and recovery.
This article outlines the gotchas at play in many organizations and highlights the considerations and potential solutions for storage managers.
When facing a recovery situation, five basic concerns trouble most executives:
- Can I recover?
- How long will it take?
- Will I lose any data?
- Will I have to rerun any work?
- How much will it cost?
The answers to these questions depend entirely on how well your organization has prepared for recovery. Traditionally, the principal recovery tool has been the creation of backup copies of all business data. This process has proven over time to be the best means of data protection and really hasn't changed much over the years. At a selected time, usually at the end of a typical day's processing, all data is copied to some form of removable media and stored safely at a remote facility.
It sounds simple, and it is, but some issues can severely complicate the backup and recovery process. We call them the gotchas, and if you're not prepared to handle them, a minor glitch could become a major business disruption.
Gotcha #1: Runaway Data Expansion
The first gotcha is your changing environment itself. Backup and recovery procedures may be tested periodically, but your environment is constantly changing. New business applications equate to new datasets. Changes within existing applications may generate new files. Storage-management constructs can move data to different media, and "one-time jobs" or special user-submitted processing may update files. Processing schedules change, and the introduction of new technology requires new procedures.
Today's business applications are highly integrated, and it's common for one application to update the files of another. From an operational perspective, it's difficult to know which files were updated, when and by which application. Identifying a common sync-point is difficult, if not impossible.
This is the basis for the first gotcha: Namely, you really don't know what needs to be backed up, so you back up everything - an expensive and time-consuming solution.
Although we may envision catastrophic events such as fire, flood, severe weather, etc., when we think about recovery, 80 percent of all recovery situations are caused by people or processing errors.