Maintaining a backup is the single most important thing you can do to protect your company, and one of the most misunderstood. At CNCS we get asked about them all the time, and is the number one problem we identify with new clients.
Trying to deal with backups on your own can be really complicated, and expensive, so here’s our take on the subject based on over 30 years’ experience.
We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible.
The very first law of computers is – “your disk drive will fail”. This is not an if; it’s a when, so you need to be prepared. Take the time to think of what you can or can’t afford to lose. Be it baby pictures or detailed design drawings of that next great product, ERP systems, etc., figure out what you need to protect.
Backup is very much a “you get what you pay for” sort of deal. If you have infinite funds, you can reduce your chance of losing data to near zero. Practically speaking, that’s cost prohibitive, so CNCS provides options and recommendations based on industry best practices and affordability. It all basically comes down to:
What do I need to protect?
How long can I afford my systems to be down?
How much is it going to cost?
The accepted standard for information protection is the three-two-one rule – it can be summarized as:
To protect your data, you should have:
At least three copies,
In two different formats,
with one of those copies off-site.
If you were to be seriously injured or your heart suddenly stopped pumping, your life may depend on the response of those around you and how quickly you could get skilled medical treatment.
It is the same with your business. When something goes suddenly and seriously wrong and your data is lost or corrupted, the difference between your ability to resume business or to see your business irretrievably damaged will depend on what emergency systems you have in place and who you have working to keep your business alive. You need IT experts who are well practiced in disaster recovery and experienced in getting businesses up and running again in a short space of time.
Depending on your type of business, you’ll require different levels of business continuity solutions. The eight tiers of business continuity solutions offer a simple method to define current service levels and associated risks.
They are defined as follows:
Tier 1: No off-site data – Possibly no recovery
Businesses with a Tier 1 business continuity solution have no business continuity plan. There is no saved information, no documentation, no backup hardware and software, and no contingency plan. The time necessary to recover in this instance is unpredictable. In fact, it may not be possible to recover at all.
Tier 2: Data backup with no hot site
Businesses that use Tier 2 continuity solutions back up their data and send these backups to an off-site storage facility. The method of transporting these backups is often referred to as “PTAM” or the “Pick-up Truck Access Method.” Depending on how often backups are created and shipped, these organizations must be prepared to accept several days to weeks of data loss, but their backups are secure off-site. However, this tier lacks the systems on which to restore data.
Tier 3: Data backup with a hot site
Businesses using Tier 3 business continuity solutions make regular backups on tape. This is combined with an off-site facility and infrastructure (known as a hot site) in which to restore systems from those tapes in the event of a disaster. This solution will still result in the need to recreate several hours or even days’ worth of data, but the recovery time is more predictable.
Tier 4: Electronic vaulting
Tier 4 solutions build on the components of Tier 3. Additionally, some mission critical data is electronically vaulted. This electronically vaulted data is typically more current than that which is shipped via PTAM. As a result there is less data recreation or loss after a disaster occurs. The facilities for providing Electronic Remote Vaulting consists of high-speed communication circuits, and either physical or virtual tape devices and an automated tape library at the remote site. IBM’s Peer-to-Peer VTS and Sun’s VSM Clustering are two examples of this type implementation.
Tier 5: Point-in-time copies
Tier 5 solutions are used by businesses that require both greater data currency and faster recovery than users of lower tiers. Rather than relying largely on shipping tape, as is common on the lower tiers, Tier 5 solutions begin to incorporate more disk based solutions. Several hours of data loss is still possible, but it is easier to make such point-in-time (PiT) copies with greater frequency than tape backups even when electronically vaulted.
Tier 6: Transaction integrity
Tier 6 solutions are used by businesses with a requirement for consistency of data between the production and recovery data centers. There is little to no data loss in such solutions, however, the presence of this functionality is entirely dependent on the application in use.
Tier 7: Zero or near-zero data loss
Tier 7 business continuity solutions maintain the highest levels of data currency. They are used by businesses with little or no tolerance for data loss and who need to restore data to applications rapidly. These solutions have no dependence on the applications to provide data consistency. Tier 7 solutions often require some form of Disk mirroring.
There are various synchronous and asynchronous solutions available from the storage vendors. Each solution is somewhat different, offering different capabilities and providing different Recovery Point and Recovery Time objectives. Often some form of automated tape solution or disk array is also required. However, this can vary somewhat depending on the amount and type of data residing on the media.
Tier 8: Highly automated, business integrated solution
Tier 8 solutions include all the major components being used for a Tier 7 solution with the additional integration of automation. The Datto Siris family of devices creates a Tier 8 solution to ensure consistency of data above that which is granted by Tier 7 solutions. Additionally, recovery of the applications is automated, allowing for restoration of systems and applications much faster and more reliably than would be possible through manual business continuity procedures.
I can’t say thank you enough.
Sergio has come and gone and solved the problem in ten minutes! He’s a really nice guy (and so are you!).
Again, my thanks.
Helen Kahn Books Inc.