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March 2008

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Backup
and Recovery

Trend Talk by Amin Marts

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Although special agents, such as open file agents and database agents, are installed directly on the systems that require them, all file version tracking is bound to the media server. The media server can also serve as the conduit between the backup targets and the offline storage repository in both disk-to-disk and disk-to-disk-to-tape environments. In enterprises with robust data stores, positioning the media server in-line with the tape autoloader can be a bottleneck, especially if there are numerous Network-Attached Storage devices specified as targets. Backup vendors savvy to this issue enable their enterprise solutions with Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) capabilities.

The beauty of NDMP is that it allows a media server to control/manage a backup device without being physically attached to it. Removing the physical attachment allows data from backup targets to flow directly to the device. Providing a direct path to the device creates an environment where multiple (or large) backup jobs can take place simultaneously. The result is a great reduction in backup times.

Because of the lack of interoperability among backup and recovery software vendors, mixing and matching components would necessitate multiple media servers. Because it's best to avoid this, you'll likely want to stay in the same vendor family as you take advantage of new technologies; however, adopting backup and recovery technologies is far from an all-or-nothing proposition. For the most part, vendors have built their solutions to allow you to adopt the appropriate technology at the appropriate time. The policy of choice is paramount above all else. In a similar way, Open Enterprise Server provides you with ability to introduce not only Linux, but a number of back-end technologies, at your own pace. The point is that the ability to choose is critical and a growing number of software vendors are responding to that. A community of Novell representatives, partners and other customers are here to provide real-world knowledge to help you make your choice.

Introducing a CDP solution simultaneously with a data deduplication technology is possible, but it can be a challenging undertaking. Identifying the need is the first step in determining the appropriate technology. Simply put, what issue are you attempting to address?

  • Are backups running through the weekend into Monday morning?
  • Are backups failing because your media server is low on available resources?
  • Are you spending too much money on tape media?
  • Does your current backup solution support the file system where your data lives?
  • Do you need to improve Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) in databases?
  • Has your storage architecture changed to accommodate additional storage or a more reliable solution?

Traditionally, the adoption is staged, with metrics being taken along the way to evaluate progress. Beginning with a deduplication appliance will significantly reduce the amount of tape media required for “offsite-ing.” Additionally, because deduplication employs a disk-to-disk-to-tape methodology, you'll likely see a positive change in your RTOs. The migration of disk to a primary backup medium can also open the door to more aggressive and flexible backup policies. This flexibility is augmented by technologies like CDP. When implemented correctly, CDP can significantly enhance the protection of data.

As you plan your own backup and data recovery strategy, remember that no one technology or feature set can do it all. Carefully assessing your organization's business objectives, regulatory compliance needs and technology infrastructure will help you hone in on the technologies that will bring the greatest return on investment. It's also important to understand, a backup solution is a living system that must evolve alongside an organization's growth plan. It is not something that can be tacked on at the last minute and then expected to provide a high level of insurance when the need arises.

Whatever backup and data recovery solutions you choose, rest assured that market-leading vendors and their latest technologies are fully supported on Open Enterprise Server 2. This ecosystem is critical when introducing Open Enterprise Server 2 to your data center. The ability to recover lost data is not optional in a highly competitive, global market. Disaster recovery, collaboration, business continuity and anti-virus solutions take center-stage in the agile 24x7 business model.



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