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Backup Solutions Still Have a Home in Today’s HA World

Driven by their intolerance for downtime, organizations seek out highly available technologies and infrastructures to host their applications and data. Unfortunately, even given access to almost unlimited resources organizations get no guarantees of perpetual uptime. To address this shortcoming, organizations must continue to give backup solutions a home in their highly available (HA) world.

Everyone Wants HA

Today’s always-on world places more demands than ever on organizations to ensure nonstop access to their applications and data. This explains why organizations continue to invest more heavily in the right technologies and infrastructure to meet those expectations.

Their investments often show up in the form of a highly available (HA) IT infrastructure. This IT infrastructure typically consists of two or more data centers with redundant networking, power, servers, and storage components in each. It incorporates clustering, cloud, hyperconverged, and replication software, among others, into its HA design.

This combination of technologies helps organizations mitigate downtime and implement an HA IT environment. While a noble goal and one for which many organizations strive, they also must deal with a sobering reality. This objective remains a costly, elusive ideal. Just ask AWS. In late 2021 it dealt with multiple localized outages.

The Obstacles to HA

All organizations must account for the unknowns and unpredictability associated with creating a highly available IT environment.

Cost and complexity often top the list. Organizations must obtain and configure sophisticated systems which come at a premium charge.

Once obtained, organizations must engage trained individuals to manage them. Even then, these individuals cannot guarantee no downtime. Everyone from developers to engineers to operators must understand and correctly manage and use the available solutions. Should they fail to do so, which inevitably occurs due to human errors, downtime may result.

Organizations must also account for hardware failures and software defects or incompatibilities in these environments. They must monitor for weather-related events such as floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, erupting volcanos, and tsunamis provide little or no warning and may cause downtime.

Further, all organizations must deal with the growing threat of ransomware. Odds are one or more of these issues will inevitably foil even the best designed and implemented HA environment.

Overcoming them requires organizations to augment their HA production IT environment with the right data protection and recovery technologies. These solutions must protect data quickly and unobtrusively. They must also facilitate recoveries that minimize downtime while remaining affordable and simple to implement, manage, and maintain.

Aggressive RPOs and RTOs Achievable and Affordable

Backup technologies cannot nor have ever claimed to deliver HA. However, they now provide proven, cost-effective options to deliver better recovery point objectives (RPOs) and faster recovery time objectives (RTOs). They may even achieve aggressive application RPOs and RTOs of 15 minutes or less in some solutions.

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To realize these RPOs and RTOs, organizations must identify and obtain a solution that possesses the right combination of data protection technologies. The more of these technologies it possesses, the better an organization positions itself to quickly recover with minimal or no data loss. 

Organizations should first quantify their RPOs and RTOs. In so doing, they can better map their current needs to readily available, affordable, and proven backup solutions. Four key technologies that such a solution will ideally possess include:

  1. Backup. Backup remains a fundamental and relevant data protection technology. It protects emails and files and may perform image-based backups of entire physical or virtual machines. While once-a-day backups do leave data protection gaps, this frequency still meets the RPO and RTO requirements for many applications.
  2. Snapshots. Snapshots swiftly make copies of production data at a specified point in time. Since snapshots happen quickly and with minimal impact, organizations may take multiple snapshots throughout the day.
  3. Continuous data protection (CDP). CDP exists in two forms: near-CDP, or snapshots, and journaling. Near-CDP schedules snapshots to occur as frequently as every 5 minutes. However, 15-, 30-, and 60-minute snapshot intervals are more common. Journaling records every application write to leave no gaps in data protection.
  4. Data immutability. Data immutability puts a lock or hold on backup data. This prevents ransomware or anyone from accidentally or purposefully changing, deleting, or encrypting backups.

A Modern Data Protection Solution a Prerequisite for Success

The backup, CDP, snapshot, and data immutable technologies that organizations need to achieve affordable, aggressive RPOs and RTOs already exist. Unfortunately, many organizations lack the tools to efficiently, and effectively, manage them at scale in their IT environments.

To achieve better RPOs and faster RTOs, they need to identify solutions that capitalize on these available backup technologies and orchestrate their use. A modern data protection solution such as Quest NetVault Plus accomplishes these objectives. It delivers these better RPOs and faster RTOs by equipping organizations to orchestrate the use of existing backup technologies without breaking their budget.

Quest is a client of DCIG.

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