The A-Z of Backup and Recovery

 Architecture, Backup theory, Data loss, Features, NetWorker, Support  Comments Off on The A-Z of Backup and Recovery
Jan 072010

I’ve debated for a while whether to do this or not, since it might come across as somewhat twee. I think though that in the same way that “My Very Eager Mate Just Sat Up Near Pluto” works for planets, having an A-Z for backups might help to point out the most important aspects to a backup and recovery system.

So, here goes:

Maximum control over backup granularity, down to the individual file level.Each in-guest backup is unaware of other backups that may be happening on other virtual machines on the same server. Thus, the backups have the potential to actively compete for CPU, RAM, Network Bandwidth and Storage IOs. An aggressive or ill-considered approach to in-guest backup configuration can bring an entire virtual environment to its knees.
Coupled with NetWorker modules, allows for comprehensive application-consistent backups of enterprise products such as Oracle, Exchange Server, Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP, etc.Suffers same problems as conventional per-host agent backup solutions, most notably in consideration of potential performance inhibitors such as dense filesystems. Can result in the longest backups of all options.
Very strong support for granular recovery options.Bare Metal Recovery options are often more problematic or involved.
Least affected by changes to underlying virtual machine backup options.

And there we have it. Maybe neither short, nor succinct, yet hopefully useful none-the-less.

The 5 Golden Rules of Recovery

 Backup theory, NetWorker, Policies  Comments Off on The 5 Golden Rules of Recovery
Nov 102009

You might think, given that I wrote an article awhile ago about the Procedural Obligations of Backup Administrators that it wouldn’t be necessary to explicitly spell out any recovery rules – but this isn’t quite the case. It’s handy to have a “must follow” list of rules for recovery as well.

In their simplest form, these rules are:

  1. How
  2. Why
  3. Where
  4. When
  5. Who

Let’s look at each one in more detail:

  1. How – Know how to do a recovery, before you need to do it. The worst forms of data loss typically occur when a backup routine is put in place that is untried on the assumption that it will work. If a new type of backup is added to an environment, it must be tested before it is relied on. In testing, it must be documented by those doing the recovery. In being documented, it must be referenced by operational procedures*.
  2. Why – Know why you are doing a recovery. This directly affects the required resources. Are you recovering a production system, or a test system? Is it for the purposes of legal discovery, or because a database collapsed?
  3. Where – Know where you are recovering from and to. If you don’t know this, don’t do the recovery. You do not make assumptions about data locality in recovery situations.
  4. When – Know when the recovery needs to be completed by. This isn’t always answered by the why factor – you actually need to know both in order to fully schedule and prioritise recoveries.
  5. Who – Know who requested the recovery is authorised to do so. (In order to know this, there should be operational recovery procedures – forms and company policies – that indicate authorisation.)

If you know the how, why, where, when and who, you’re following the golden rules of recovery.

* Or to put it another way – documentation is useless if you don’t know it exists, or you can’t find it!

Aug 252009

This article has now moved to Enterprise Systems Backup, and can be read here.