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Cloud Backup & Disaster Recovery
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June 05, 2012

The Key To SMB Offsite Backup Isn’t Backup, It’s Recovery

by

Backup Plan
Because companies depend on their IT infrastructure, they can’t wait hours or days for access to files from an offsite backup following a data disaster. This is especially true when the definition of a data disaster can be a pinky finger that accidentally deleted a client document, a server crash, or tornado that takes down a whole data center.
 
So, when you’re looking for a backup solution, include live DR as part of the features checklist.
 
Here’s how to determine your DR needs:
 

1. Know Your RPO and RTO

 
As with any major backup decision, the place to start is by determining the RPO and RTO for your business in a Disaster Recovery scenario.
 
The odds are good that you don’t need immediate access to most of your files, only a small percentage of them, maybe just email, a transaction database, and a few other records for the past month.
 
First, identify what your key files and databases are. Then decide how recent the version should be that’s recovered after a disaster. That’s your RPO. Some SMBs like to use 24-hours as a default, but it’s really dependent on your business. For example, a local seafood restaurant can get away with a 24-hour RPO, but an eCommerce fine jewelry business may need a much shorter one.
 
Now you have to determine how quickly the data needs to be recovered to minimize risk to the business. This is your RTO. When we first start talking to an SMB, somewhere between 4 and 12 hours seems to be the most popular, but most admit to either frequently missing their chosen RTO in tests, or not testing at all.
 
Also, remember that today’s backups can involve more than unstructured data (files, generally user-created, such as Word documents, multimedia, etc.) and Exchange, SQL and other databases.
 
In particular, IT is increasingly likely to have – and want to use as part of DR – snapshots of virtual-machine images for server applications and possibly users, as well as system state saves.
 

2. Look For Backups That Stay Current, But Can Also Roll Back

 
Next it’s essential to identify the frequency of the backup. Many backups are done once a day, usually late at night. This the default setting on Zetta, for example.
 
Other backups are continuous, done every time a write is done to a file or database. For larger updates, look for backups that can transfer data very quickly and efficiently.
 
Another important feature of business class backups is the ability to keep historic snapshots of data. For example, if your primary data is compromised or corrupted, you may want your DR solution to be able to go back to an earlier state of data.
 

3. Look For Quick Availability of the Backup

 
For the fastest possible access to files in the backup you want the ability to access the backup directly, as a mounted file system. This makes the most sense in cases where the RPO is short but the amount of actual data being accessed may be small, such as queries to a customer or support database.
 
Some backups, for example, save incremental updates but don’t immediately apply them to the backup copy, instead doing this on-demand, or as a slower background tasks.
 
If your company is considering adding DR make sure you’ve got a backup solution that supports your DR goals. For example, here’s a diagram of Zetta’s architecture that shows how we’ve created a backup solution that’s synonymous with DR.

Nick Mueller
Nick is Zetta's Chief Content Officer, and has been working with writing and social media teams to create digital content since the days when the BBS reigned.
Zetta.net is an enterprise-grade cloud and local backup, archiving, and disaster recovery solution for small- and midsize businesses, MSPs, and VARs.
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