Continuous Data Protection
by Paul Klinkby-Silver - VP Europe EqualLogic - Monday, 24 July 2006.
To have a consistent, usable, secure copy of data to store long term, backup is required. Backup is the core of data protection because it provides the ability to recover data from either physical disasters or common data corruption. Daily data backups are therefore, an important, yet often painful, operation slowing (even halting) production, requiring hands-on management, and consuming media. Recovery is even more painful finding the right backup media and restoring data back into a usable format can take hours, and even days - and without application coordination, data integrity is not assured.

Backup and recovery operations are the focus of business continuity and data protection plans and often the main source of anxiety for IT departments. Few businesses are fully satisfied with their backup and recovery solutions. Not only must data be protected from complete site failures, such as those resulting from natural disasters, data must also be protected from corruption or data loss, such as that resulting from a computer virus or human error.

An ideal backup and recovery solution:
  • Maintains data integrity during backup operations to ensure that restored data is reliable.
  • Retains multiple copies of data in safe locations, either local (for example, in the same building) or remote (for example, in a different geographic location).
  • Ensures that backup processing has minimal impact on other IT operations.
  • Allows data to be restored quickly and effectively, with minimal impact on users and applications. A common challenge for administrators is to determine what is theoretically possible and what is practical with the backup products available today.
Ways to Back-up

Incremental backups can save time, network bandwidth, and storage space while improving performance, but at a cost of complexity, convoluted scheduling, and longer restore times.

Instead, IT usually concedes that data recovery will mean a day or more of lost work, since the most likely recoverable copy will be in yesterday's backup.

The core problem is that backup and restore operations take too much time. But what if backup was so easy and non-disruptive that you could backup as many times a day as you wanted? And what if administrators could allow users to restore data themselves without administrator intervention? This would fundamentally change how organisations think about data protection.

Near-continuous backup and configurable, user-based restore are not a dream they are available with today's Continuous Data Protection (CDP) products. Microsoft Data Protection Manager, Mimosa NearPoint, Sonasoft SonaSafe, Symantec (VERITAS) Backup Exec 10d, and others deliver extraordinary benefits: frequent and faster backups, shorter backup windows, fast recovery, and the opportunity to move tape processing to daytime operations.

These disk-based backups typically provide 30 days of online backups, and reduce the complexity and expense of tape libraries and media. Most organisations still run tape backups for long term data retention, but day-to-day backup and restore performance is vastly improved by using disk.

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