What a Windows Recovery Solution Should Look Like

One of the principle struggles within organizations in the first decade of the new millennium has been solving Windows backup issues. Now that a new decade has arrived the problem has changed as organizations turn their attention to how they can recover their Windows application servers in a time frame and manner that meets their requirements. But to identify such a solution they first need to define what such a recovery solution should look like.

In the last few years much of the angst surrounding the backup of Windows systems has abated. The introduction of disk into the backup process has been a godsend in that it has removed backup as being one of the more problematic processes in the data center.

But new expectations and requirements have emerged in its wake. Users and application owners are less tolerant of application outages of any kind, much less extended outages. Server virtualization is driving up the number of application servers that need protection. Fewer people are available to dedicate time to orchestrate application recoveries. Disaster recovery plans are no longer optional but expected. Upgrades of production applications need to occur without a hitch.

It is for reasons like these that more organizations are less concerned about backup and instead focusing on recovery. As they do, they are asking the question, “What should a Windows recovery solution look like?

There is no simple answer to that question but the following list is a good starting point in terms of what features to look for in a Windows recovery solution.  It should support:

  • Both local and remote recoveries. Organizations need to enable the same or fewer administrators to work more efficiently so they can accomplish more with less effort. To do this, the solution needs to provide a single console that they can use to recover applications and/or application data either locally or remotely
  • VSS for application consistent recoveries. To ensure that applications can be recovered rapidly and reliably, recoveries should be performed from application-consistent recovery points.  On Windows, that means the solution must integrate with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to create recoverable copies of the application and its data.
  • The recovery of the most common Windows applications. Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint are found in many organizations and considered “mission critical” by them in many circumstances. So out of the box integration with these applications for backup and recovery should be viewed as a prerequisite.
  • Any kind of storage that Windows servers can access. Windows applications store their data on almost every type of storage known to include DAS, NAS and SAN. That introduces dependencies and complexities when it comes to doing application recoveries since the Windows recovery solution must account for the data residing on these different types of storage and then be able to recover it.
  • Both physical and virtual server environments. More data centers are adopting server virtualization but physical servers are likely to remain an integral part of data centers for the foreseeable future. So any Windows recovery solution must first be able to protect either of these types of environments and then deliver whatever type of recovery is needed, be it physical-to-physical, physical-to-virtual, virtual-to-virtual or even virtual-to-physical.

In addition to these features, organizations that have already adopted server virtualization or plan to head down that path should also verify that the Windows recovery solution introduces minimal or no overhead on the virtual machine. Further, if organizations have other critical applications hosted on Windows such as Blackberry Enterprise Server, Oracle or SAP, they will want to verify that the Windows recovery solution integrates with the appropriate application snapshot APIs, allowing it to support application-consistent recovery options. 

It is those organizations that are ready to look beyond backup and at a Windows recovery solution that should look at InMage. InMage delivers the type of reliable data protection solution that organizations have come to expect for their Windows application servers but more importantly contains these new features that organizations need as they look to implement their Windows recovery solution of tomorrow.

The introduction of disk into the backup process has solved one of the more nagging problems of the last decade. But now with the backup problem well on its way to being solved, it is time for organizations to take the next step and identify solutions that facilitate and automate the recoveries of their Windows applications.

Organizations that are ready to leave backup in the past should therefore look towards InMage. The features it offers already define what the next generation of Windows recovery solutions will be expected to deliver in the coming decade. But what makes InMage so intriguing is that organizations do not have to wait until the end of this decade to achieve these types of Windows application recoveries as InMage can offer them today.

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