Organizations have always generally cared about their ability to recover backup data. However, the advent of ransomware has cast a new spotlight on it. Organizations must now prioritize recovering their workloads and data in the time and to the point their business requires. To do that, they may need to implement up to three (3) different rapid recovery offerings.
RPOs and RTOs
To select the most appropriate recovery offering(s), an organization should first establish its recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO).
The RPO for each workload and set of data may differ. To establish an RPO, an organization must determine how much data it can afford to lose. If it can lose hours, days, or even a week or more of data, it may perform backups less frequently. Conversely, if it can only lose minimal or no data, it will need to implement robust data protection technologies.
In contrast, an RTO establishes how quickly an organization’s workloads and data must come back online to meet production requirements. Setting the right RTO for each workload or set of data necessitates they understand its importance to the organization’s operations. Further, they should not rely solely on the RPO associated with each workload or set of data to establish its RTO.
For instance, some organizations may have large data sets that change slowly or infrequently. Further, failing to capture the changes between each backup may not adversely affect the ability to recover the application.
A relatively static website offers a good illustration of this principle. A weekly or even monthly backup of the website may suffice. Any data lost (blog entries, graphical changes) between backups may be inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. However, the website’s RTO may be an hour or even minutes. In this case, an organization may measure a website’s RTO in seconds, minutes, or hours and its RPO in days or weeks.
3 Rapid Recovery Offerings
Only after an organization establishes its RPOs and RTOs should it select from available rapid recovery offerings. All these offerings have other use cases though each one facilitates rapid recovery to different degrees. Here are three common rapid recovery offerings that organizations may want to consider:
Cloud File Storage
Cloud file storage offerings function as network file servers. These offerings use a combination of local and cloud storage to deliver their network file services. Since many organizations store large amounts of production data on network file servers, cloud file storage offerings provide a logical starting point to deliver rapid recovery.
Cloud file storage offerings excel at hitting multiple concerns when it comes to rapid recovery. They may keep backup copies of data both on-premises and in the cloud. They do not require additional backup software to implement or manage them. They store the backups in an immutable format in the cloud. They can store terabytes or even petabytes of data and recover it to production in as quickly as a few minutes.
Backup Software/Integrated Backup Appliances
Backup software and integrated backup appliance primarily perform backups, as their name suggests. However, offerings from different providers can and do differ significantly in terms of how well they facilitate rapid recoveries.
For instance, some manage multiple types of local and cloud storage while others only provide limited storage choices. These storage choices influence how well each organization can meet its RPOs and RTOs.
Some backup software also provides one or more instant recovery options for virtual machines (VMs). One option facilitates running a production VM using the backup storage indefinitely. Another option also instantly recovers the VM using the backup storage. However, once the VM spins up, the backup software migrates the VM back onto production storage. Yet a third option uses snapshots taken on storage arrays to perform recoveries of VMs at scale.
The storage types and recovery feature each backup software offers can and should influence an organization’s backup software choice.
Storage arrays have always served as backup targets as they facilitate fast backups. However, they also facilitate fast recoveries, to include potentially hosting the recoveries on the storage array. Further, organizations have many high quality, highly performing storage arrays to use for this purpose.
Granted, some of these storage arrays lack some cutting-edge features of production arrays. However, they do not sacrifice in areas that matter for backup and restore, such as availability or reliability. They deliver these features at a substantial discount to storage arrays typically used in production.
Notably, more of these storage arrays used specifically for recovery offer options such as flash drives and data immutability. These attributes combined with their availability and reliability features make them suitable for hosting recoveries at scale indefinitely.
Rapid Recovery an Attainable Goal
Many organizations will likely need all three rapid recovery offerings to cost-effectively meet the collective RPO and RTO requirements of their environment. Perhaps what is most encouraging about this, organizations many already own these offerings or have budget line items for them. That makes achieving this goal of rapid recovery more than an aspiration but one that is attainable with current budget and available offerings.