Your data center’s most valuable asset isn’t its servers, storage systems or any other physical components—it’s the data these systems handle. To ensure that your data center never loses a single bit of information due to technical or environmental factors, it needs to have an effective strategy for efficiently backing up and recovering data. Here are the main points you should consider.
Setting a Schedule. At the most basic level, backups need to be properly configured with the proper settings and carried out consistently at predetermined times. But many enterprises, such as banks and retailers, need more frequent—even continuous—backups. Adding to the confusion is virtualization, which can make backup scheduling and coordination a nightmare. To remove the pain, and to ensure that all information is safely archived, consider using some form of automated software or service to manage and time backups. It’s an investment you won’t regret.
Select the Media. Over the years, media selection has traditionally boiled down to a matter of tape versus disk—first floppy disks, now hard drives. The debate over which approach works best still rages on, even as hard drives prices continue plummeting. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with either media, although each has its strong and weak points. Tape generally wins on the basis of cost while disk offers the advantage of speedier recovery. To determine which media will best fit your needs, balance the amount of money you have available against how often you need to recover data, then try to reach a sensible compromise between cost and time.
Consider Deduplication. Removing useless, duplicate data can significantly shrink your organization’s backup storage requirements. By minimizing storage footprint requirements, as well as network bandwidth consumption and backup windows, deduplication can boost data backup and recovery efficiency while lowering costs. The approach also reduces data center power and cooling needs and makes disk backups a more financially attractive proposition.
Strive for Stability and Redundancy. It’s all well and good to have a solid backup strategy, but you’ll also want to physically protect your data—and minimize the need for time-consuming recovery sessions caused by infrastructure damage—by ensuring that your facility isn’t vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. Your data center also needs to have backup technologies in place that will keep power, cooling, network services and other necessary resources flowing steadily and continuously.
Off-Site Backups. A growing number of enterprises are taking advantage of low cost, high-speed networks to archive data at one or more remote locations (such as with a storage service provider or at a secondary enterprise data center). If you decide to go this route, make sure that your data center is based at a facility operated by a carrier-neutral network services provider that features multi-homed network access. A blended bandwidth approach will give you a highly reliable connection to the Internet and keep your mission-critical backup operations “always-on.”
Look to the Cloud. Pay-as-you-go, scalable cloud storage is a way of using high-speed networks, combined with a cutting-edge technology, to slash data backup costs without sacrificing efficiency or protection. While many enterprises opt to turn over all of their backup needs to a cloud-oriented service provider, others use a hybrid model that involves having premises infrastructure and in-house backup tools mixed with cloud storage.
Stay Up to Date. Data backup needs and technologies evolve over time, so it’s a good idea to periodically revisit your data backup strategy—say every year or so—to ensure that the plan is continuing to meet your data center’s needs.