What to do on world backup day

 Backup theory, Best Practice, Recovery  Comments Off on What to do on world backup day
Mar 302017

World backup day is approaching. (A few years ago now, someone came up with the idea of designating one day of the year to recognise backups.) Funnily enough, I’m not a fan of world backup day, simply because we don’t backup for the sake of backing up, we backup to recover.

Every day should, in fact, be world backup day.

Something that isn’t done enough – isn’t celebrated enough, isn’t tested enough – are recoveries. For many organisations, recovery tests consist of actually doing a recovery when requested, and things like long term retention backups are never tested, and even more rarely recovered from.

bigStock Rescue

So this Friday, March 31, I’d like to suggest you don’t treat as World Backup Day, but World Recovery Test Day. Use the opportunity to run a recovery test within your organisation (following proper processes, of course!) – preferably a recovery that you don’t normally run in terms of day to day operations. People only request file recoveries? Sounds like a good reason to run an Exchange, SQL or Oracle recovery to me. Most recoveries are Exchange mail level recoveries? Excellent, you know they work, let’s run a recovery of a complete filesystem somewhere.

All your recoveries are done within a 30 day period of the backup being taken? That sounds like an excellent idea to do the recovery from an LTR backup written 2+ years ago, too.

Part of running a data protection environment is having routine tests to validate ongoing successful operations, and be able to confidently report back to the business that everything is OK. There’s another, personal and selfish aspect to it, too. It’s one I learnt more than a decade ago when I was still an on-call system administrator: having well-tested recoveries means that you can sleep easily at night, knowing that if the pager or mobile phone does shriek you into blurry-eyed wakefulness at 1am, you can in fact log onto the required server and run the recovery without an issue.

So this World Backup Day, do a recovery test.

The need to have an efficient and effective testing system is something I cover in more detail in Data Protection: Ensuring Data Availability. If you want to know more, feel free to check out the book on Amazon or CRC Press. Remember that it doesn’t matter how good the technology you deploy is if you don’t have the processes and training to use it.

World backup day misses the point

 Backup theory  Comments Off on World backup day misses the point
Mar 302015

iStock Flat Earth Blog Size

It’s fair to say I’m a big fan of backup and recovery. So much so that a substantial part of the last 19 years of my career have been devoted to it in some form or another.

Yet here’s the rub: World backup day (March 31) is full of good intentions but has entirely the wrong focus. By that I don’t just mean it should be World Recovery Day (although that would be a nice change); instead, it places emphasis on just one aspect of data protection, and these days there’s no such thing as a data protection strategy that only leverages a single aspect.

Data protection – Information Lifecycle Protection (ILP), as I like to think of it starts well before the first backup is taken, and extends into a variety of fields: storage, operating systems and virtualisation. You might say at bare minimum, ILP is comprised of the following:

Components of ILP

Components of ILP

(It’s also impossible to have a truly effective Information Lifecycle Protection strategy without also having a data lifecycle management strategy – i.e., be comfortable with archival and pruning of data.)

It would be easy to look at the above diagram and assume it’s all about storage, but there’s more to it than that. Smart companies are starting to focus on their data protection in an application-centric approach. That’s not to suggest decentralisation of data protection, but more decentralised integration with intelligent centralised reporting, capacity management and policy management. For sure, storage is one aspect of what we need to protect, but if you look at an average enterprise now there are whole realms of data protection functions that have made their way up into higher layers – VMware’s SRM, vMotion, etc., are perfect examples of data-protection concepts applied at a higher level to provide more functional protection.

By application-centric approach, I’m not talking about “MSSQL Initiated” or “Oracle Initiated” (though I’ll admit that plays a part in a centralised policy/decentralised integration approach), but more a consideration of how enterprise IT needs to work in an evolving – indeed, evolved – landscape. It’s time in IT we stop thinking about backup and recovery or data protection being about a list of hosts and databases that need protection, and instead think about data protection in terms of business functions, business applications that need to be protected. From the business perspective the hosts cyclopsmedusa and cerberus running the database fipr00 is meaningless – the business wants to know that the financial planning system is being protected. As cloud based approaches to IT take hold and introduce a consumer-based, service-centric view of IT, IT must adjust to think of data protection from a service, application or business function perspective.

Celebrate world backup day by all means, but let’s keep in mind it’s at just one quadrant in the information lifecycle protection approach.

Every day is world recovery day

 Backup theory, Recovery  Comments Off on Every day is world recovery day
Apr 012012

World Backup Day March 2012

World backup day was established last year as a means of trying to encourage everyone to focus on backups.

Personally I disagree with it – and yes, I know that means I’ll probably sound a bit like the Grinch, but I just can’t bring myself to believe a “World Backup Day” works. Of course, the end goal of getting people and corporations to be cognisant of the need for backups and ensuring they’re done is admirable. However, declaring a day to be “world backup day” just as equally sends the wrong message that for 364 days a year (or in this case, 365 days), you don’t really have to think too much about backups.

The simple fact is that every day should be world recovery day. After all, backups aren’t done for the sake of using media, they’re done in case we need to later recover from them.

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