data by having a reliable backup solution in place ranks high on any IT
professional’s list of critical “must have” network technologies, and it should
be on yours as well. With all of the
backup options available today, how do you go about selecting the solution that
best fits your needs and budget? Have you considered your network
infrastructure and your recovery needs?
It’s not as difficult or as overwhelming a task as you may think if you
just start by answering a few simple questions.
- Determine What You Need to Backup
backing up just servers, or do you also have to contend with backing up PCs or
even laptops that may not always be connected to your network? In most cases, the most critical data will
reside on your servers so the next question is, are your servers physical or
virtual servers? Most current backup
solutions have the capability of backing up both, and also have some capacity
to backup end user systems as well, if that is absolutely necessary. Virtualization of your server environment will
provide you with much greater options and flexibility for backup and recovery,
and over time should be less expensive.
If you think you will be virtualizing your servers within the next few
years, you should base your backup solution around that projection, to be sure
that what you choose will also make sense once your environment is virtualized.
- Recovery Time Objective
How long can
your organization afford to be down in the event an entire system requires
recovery? While your initial response
may be “none” or “very short”, you need to be realistic about this response
because the shorter the timeframe for recovery that you require, the more
costly the solution will be. If your
“disaster” is one of a non-catastrophic nature where the failure is only within
your server environment and not a physical disaster at a location where
hardware needs to be replaced, systems can be restored within minutes of
complete failure. However, this type of solution will come at great cost. On average in this type of scenario, one to
two days of downtime is generally acceptable and will allow you to purchase a
solution affordable to most.
- Recovery Point Objective
time are you willing to lose in the event of a failure? This basically translates into how often you
need to back up your data. Most organizations
backup at least once per day, and generally at night, so in the event that
hardware or software fails causing data loss during the course of a day, you could
restore your data from the previous night’s backup and only lose anything that
had been done during that day. Is this
acceptable to you in your environment or in your line of work? If not, how many times per day would you need
to back up your data? There are systems
that can perform a backup as frequently as every ten minutes. This type of solution would be more expensive
but generally won’t break the bank and is affordable for most organizations
that require this sort of recoverability.
How far back
in time do you need to retain your backup files? And at what interval do you need to retain
copies of your full backups? While
storage is fairly affordable these days, if long-term, frequent, full backup
archival is necessary, this can drive the cost of the solution up
budget afford you the luxury of purchasing a solution outright, or would a year
to year, or a month to month payment schedule work best for you? The latter costs more in the long run, but
allows the acquisition of an otherwise unaffordable sophisticated backup solution.
- Disaster Recovery and Security
All backup solutions are at the heart of any good disaster recovery solution. How does your backup solution line up with your defined disaster recovery objectives? Are copies of your backups being maintained off-site, or are they replicated to cloud storage? If so, is your backup data secure whether it resides on or offsite? Does the media and/or technology you’re using allow backup data to be encrypted?
Your Backup Technology Options…
There are many options for backing up your data and there is no “one size fits all” solution. What makes sense for one organization could be completely wrong for another. It is only by answering the questions above that you will begin to understand what your best solution may be.
With the plethora of options available, it is advisable to consult with a qualified IT professional to assess your needs, and provide you with a solution that not only meets your budget, but more importantly meets your data backup and disaster recovery objectives. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to explore the implications for your organization.