Having a backup and recovery procedure can help to minimise the effects of unplanned downtime and maximise data availability and recoverability.

Backup and recovery challenges

With a myriad of storage methods available such as servers, disk and tape storage subsystems, storage area networks (SANs) and network-attached storage (NAS) topologies, successful backup and restore management can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned storage professionals.

The following steps can help you create an effective backup and recovery procedure

Step 1: Understand the backup environment

Before a successful process can be created, it’s important to conduct a thorough assessment and inventory of the existing backup environment, including backup servers and clients, automated libraries, backup media and storage networking components.

Step 2: Perform capacity planning

Once the assessment and inventory are completed and the backup infrastructure is understood and documented, the next step is to perform capacity planning. The purpose of capacity planning is to identify the sources of storage growth and perform a gap analysis to determine the differences between the current infrastructure capabilities vs. expected requirements. Important considerations at this stage include:

  • The expected storage growth over the next six months and in one to three years
  • The anticipated increases in the number and types of backup clients
  • Scalability of the backup architecture and infrastructure
  • How often should backups occur?

Policy definition includes creating backup schedules and windows for each client in the management plan. These policies will be dictated by the individual requirements of your business and particular application. For example, an enterprise may require a full backup of their critical Oracle database on a daily basis to maximize data availability and minimize restore times.

Step 3: Analyse current policies and procedures

The foundation of a successful backup and recovery process is policies and operational procedures. In this step, internal and external customer requirements for backup and recovery must be reviewed and documented. Questions that should be answered include:

  • What are the service level commitments that must be met for application and data availability?
  • What backup schedules and windows are needed?
  • What are the appropriate retention policies for this data? Are there any regulatory requirements?
  • What are the corporate requirements for a disaster recovery plan?

Step 4: Determine resource constraints

In an ideal world, an enterprise would have unlimited resources to accomplish their business objectives – including ensuring successful backup and recovery. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. A realistic backup and recovery procedure will take into account the business constraints most organisations face. Key resource areas that must be reviewed include personnel constraints, physical infrastructure constraints and financial constraints. Consider the following questions:

  • Is there enough staff to effectively manage backup and restore operations? Do they have the right skill sets?
  • Are there adequate data centre resources (floor space, rack space, power, cooling, etc.) to accommodate potential increases in backup infrastructure components?
  • Is there budgetary approval for any new acquisitions or improvements to the backup and restore infrastructure?

Step 5: Deploy the plan

Take a phased approach to backup and recovery implementation. First, hire and train the required operational staff or select an outsourcing vendor. Second, acquire and install any of the backup hardware and software identified in the capacity planning phase. Next, implement and test the operational procedures and backup policies in a controlled environment to avoid impacting production backups. This is also the time to implement and test any new backup management software tools. Be prepared to make some adjustments to the plan as required.

Step 6: Monitor the management plan

Obviously, an organisation’s requirements change as it grows and responds to challenges – in some cases, on almost a daily basis. New applications drive revenue and profit growth. And of course, the storage environment continues to grow at an exponential rate. Due to these ever-changing requirements, it’s important to continuously monitor the backup and recovery management plan to ensure its meeting the business and data protection needs of the enterprise.

Step 7: Select the software to support your plan

Storage administrators require a robust set of software tools to properly monitor and manage the backup and recovery infrastructure. These tools include messaging and event notification frameworks as well as backup and recovery software.

 

We can help
Having an airtight backup and recovery procedure has never been more important. Our business continuity experts can help you go through the necessary steps to create a plan and put in place processes to ensure you’re ready for anything.