Thursday, July 24, 2008

BACK UP, For The Sake Of Your Critical Data

Critical data is the lifeline of any business and hence needs to be archived. But what is the best way to do so? How long can this data be stored? And can lost data be recovered?

We look at some answers.

Key BenefITs

• Don’t lose any essential data.
• Comply with all audit and government requirements.
• Reduce storage costs, by moving data across a hierarchy of media.

Back up, For The Sake Of Your Critical Data

Every day, a huge amount of critical data is created in any business through its daily transactions with dealers, distributors, customers, employees, etc. There are also records like contracts, taxes, client contact details, etc, which are of immense importance. All this critical data needs to be preserved/archived for future reference. This is done by making a back-up of the data regularly, based on the requirements of the company. Most firms take daily back-ups of critical data. The back-up helps them when they need access to a file that was used a few months, or even years, ago.

“The business data, be it in paper or digital form, is the lifeline for any organisation. So, storing and backing it up carefully is of utmost importance to keep the lifeline always up,” justifies Arun Attri, IThead, Barista Coffee Company

Storage options

There are various methods of storing critical data. In general, back-ups are done to tape, with multiple back-up sets. Critical data is often backed up to disk storage and then moved to tape. When backed up to disk, the data restore time is less. The use of disk-based storage improves recovery time objectives (the time and service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster), offers superior reliability and improves the efficiency of WAN Wide Area Network)-based remote back-up and replication. Disk storage is the best way to preserve data for longer periods of time. With data de-duplication in use, disk storage can offer the same economies as tape storage. “Data de-duplication is one emerging solution to the challenge of backing up exponentially growing volumes of data and preserving it for extended periods of time. Data de-duplication is a process that eliminates redundant data from the total volume of data that needs to be backed up. In doing so, it reduces both secondary storage requirements and network bandwidth needs,” adds P K Gupta, director, Asia Pacific & Japan (back-up, recovery and archive solutions), EMC Global Services. For example, when an e-mail with an attachment is received by multiple recipients within the organisation, data de-duplication ensures that only the first instance of the attachment is backed up. All other back-ups simply point back to the previously stored instance of the file.

For network-based solutions, the recommended method is using a centralised storage solution—the user’s data is stored to NAS (network attached storage) and then backed up to tape. Disks are expensive, so data is stored in tapes with multiple copies. Most firms use disks and tapes for critical data storage. “Tapes as well as disks are used for storage. We use HP-Tape Library (Ultrium-3)”, says Attri. Renny V Mathew, systems administrator, Avio Helitronics Infosystems, reveals, “We use LTO (linear tape open—a high performance magnetic tape storage technology) Gen 3, Symantec Backup exec 11d for server software, and Tandberg T24 Tape Library Single Drive with 12 tape slots.”

The frequency of back-ups

Daily and weekly back-ups of crucial data are the need of the hour. There are two main back-up methods: daily incremental and weekly full back-ups. “We take daily incremental and weekly full backups,” says Mathew. The daily, weekly or monthly back-up is stored and also tested regularly. Attri asserts, “We take incremental (daily) as well as full back-ups (weekly) of our critical data in our Backup Tape Library using HPData Protector software. On a monthly basis, the copy of the full back-up is also replicated to separate disks for storage. We even do restore tests for old tapes after some interval to check the health of the data and media.”

Software like Buffalo’s Memeo Auto Backup help users to take regular back-ups by setting instructions for daily or weekly back-ups. The EMC Avamar data de-duplication solution provides daily back-ups that can be quickly recovered in just one step — eliminating the hassle of restoring full and subsequent incremental back-ups to reach the desired recovery point.

Backed up for years and years

The time period for data storage depends on company policies, regulations and guidelines. “We can store data to tape for a period of 2-3 years. And we can store data to disk depending on the life of the disk. Using RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) technology (that uses two or more hard disk drives to achieve greater levels of performance and reliability for large volumes of data) we can store data for over a 100 years,” says Kamal Kannan, engineer storage, 22by7 Solutions Pvt Ltd.

This is an excerpt from the article "Critical data Storage" published in the July 2008 issue of BenefIT magazine.

Source: ManageIT section from BenefIT magazine July Edition.

1 comment:

hoskerism said...

These days another viable option is to use an online backup service such as Angel Backup. They take care of archiving your data for you and, of course, your data is always stored offsite so there is no need to worry about transferring your tapes between locations.

With faster internet connections, there is now a compelling argument for outsourcing backup operations to a specialist over the internet.