It's no secret that disaster recovery is all too often an after-thought for most companies. But with storms like Hurricane Sandy and a myriad of other natural disasters continually grabbing headlines, IT organizations are coming face-to-face with a mandate to reevaluate and modernize backup and continuity processes in order to adequately meet the demands of today's global businesses.
As more critical business processes move towards automation, the spotlight is on IT resiliency for delivering the required uptime for systems and applications. According to a recent Gartner CIO Survey, while growth and cost reduction projects remain critical, CIOs also want to ensure projects don't bring additional risk exposure to the enterprise. As a result, the survey found that business continuity and risk management are increasingly being viewed as a means for business growth, not just as an insurance plan.
In fact, the survey shows that organizations are actively allocating resources to support those business continuity objectives. Specifically, the survey revealed that 55% of respondents are currently in the throes of a disaster recovery modernization project, with larger enterprises primarily focused on extending their in-house IT infrastructures in addition to leveraging public cloud services. Nearly 87% of respondents have set the bar high, targeting recovery time objectives (RTOs) of four hours or less for mission-critical applications and services.¹
Part of what's holding companies back from making a well-laid disaster recovery plan is the associated complexity and cost. Real-time replication, instant failover, and high availability clustering as a recovery strategy is out of reach for many companies from a budgetary standpoint and not every application requires the investment in 99.99% uptime. The more accessible alternative for many, then, is to back up critical systems to tape and in turn, ship the tapes off by truck to a remote location—either another company-owned site or a third-party provider like an Iron Mountain.
So what's the problem with this tried and true tape-based backup and recovery plan that so many companies employ today? Experts say there are several, specifically:
It's risky. Just do a quick Google search and it's easy to find example after example of companies putting confidential information at risk simply because tapes were lost or stolen in transit. Not only do privacy violations come into play with this worst-case scenario, but companies also jeopardize their disaster recovery preparedness because data and transactions duly captured on tape are no longer available to aid in business continuity.
It's inefficient. Traditional methods typically involve a number of batch processes—you back up data to tape, eject the data out of the environment, put it in bins that go out on a truck, which are then sent to a disaster recovery site where they sit until they can be imported into the disaster recovery environment – sometimes weeks later. This is hardly a high latency recovery strategy and even worse, the environment is not even available for disaster recovery testing, much less a real disaster scenario.
It's no longer the most cost effective. While tape has historically been the low-cost backup and recovery option, the decreasing price of disk storage coupled with the availability of economical cloud-based options has more and more companies modernizing their strategies around these new options. There are also hidden costs associated with tape-based recovery, including extensive transport services, which can pad the expense, not to mention, the labor associated with what's often manual and time consuming processes.
IT shops looking for a modern-day approach to disaster recovery should consider trading up the mode of data transfer from trucks to AIR. It's not planes in flight we're talking about, but rather Auto Image Replication (AIR), an innovative technology introduced in Symantec's NetBackup 7.1 and in the subsequent 7.5 version that automates backup replication across multiple NetBackup domains and/or locations. By automating and accelerating disaster recovery practices, Auto Image Replication helps organizations reduce the costs associated with data protection and recovery, not to mention, improve the service level agreements (SLAs) in their disaster recovery site.
Auto Image Replication employs deduplication and OpenStorage Technologies (OST) to create a unique data mover. This means that it transports data not already at a remote site across an Internet connection so the image or backup appears in a remote data center and is ready to be restored by the user should the need arise.
This approach essentially eliminates volumes of redundant data and prioritizes which files should be sent over the network for disaster recovery purposes. Part two of Auto Image Replication's value proposition is the transformation of what has historically been a batch process into an automated, continuous workflow, eradicating the need for physical movement of backup images via tapes on trucks and mitigating failed disaster recovery practices due to human error. The approach also ensures that the duplicate copy is accessible at the disaster recovery site as soon as the duplication has occurred, which means disaster recovery testing can now be performed immediately.
One other added bonus: With its ability to consolidate many backup domains into a single and independent disaster recovery domain, Auto Image Replication enables IT shops to conduct disaster recovery testing with virtually no impact to the production environment.
With shorter time-to-recovery windows increasingly a core mandate for business, IT organizations should waste no time exploring how a more modern approach to disaster recovery with NetBackup Auto Image Replication can help reduce costs and improve service level agreements. To find out specifically how NetBackup's AIR feature can help your disaster recovery plan soar, check out the video, Stop Putting Tapes on Trucks
- ¹ Gartner Aug. 2011 research: Backup and Disaster Recovery Modernization is No Longer a Luxury but a Business Necessity: John P Morency, Donna Scott, Dave Russell