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What Every VAR Should Know – Backup Plans and Restore Requirements

When working with your SMB clients on data protection, speak the truth and carry a logical plan.

Previously posted at http://www.channelprosmb.com/article/what_every_var_should_know_about_backup_plans

Enterprise backup has changed the world of data protection for SMBs, the largest group of companies in the world. SMBs cross all industries and have now gone enterprise—that is, they are multi-platform, multi-department and in multi-locations. These no longer identify only Fortune 500 corporate data centers.

Data protection in SMBs must now attend to those functions typically only possible in the largest entities:

• Virtualization of servers, storage, and transactions
• Applications driving data across complex sets of users
• Distributed, yet core information on laptops to reduced instruction set computers (RISC)
• Digitization of practically every conversation and business activity
• Data growth without corresponding increased revenues

IT managers can no longer plan on making daily copies of everything happening in the corporate environment, and then saving those copies for interminable amounts of time. The capture methods and resource requirements for such an endeavor simply do not exist.

Is this a dreary overview?

Without planning, yes. The starting point for planning, however, is easier than you think. Skilled resellers can help customers logically wade through these steps.

Backup plans should include everything from the hardware needed to the people responsible for the processes. But success or failure in decision making begins with the most logical (and most ignored) planning step possible—restore. Every organization should establish restore requirements before doing anything else.

The first step toward the best backup choice is determining the organization’s backup needs. This requires knowing which data must be protected, how to protect it, when, and for how long. Doing so should include contemplating the RTO (recovery time objective), or how quickly certain data must be made available or restored, and the RPO (recovery point objective), or from what point in time the organization must restore data.

The restore requirements are the most important issues, and if done first, everything else will fall into place.

Make planning simple.

Begin by categorizing the company into three sets of data:

  • Departments:  Bundle those departments that have similar restore expectations.  You might end up with just a few. Assign everything that needs to be restored into a department.
  • Databases and files:   Per department, identify the databases used. Databases have the most distinct restore issues and most difficult backup hurdles. All else should fall into the “file” category, and organize each department’s files by what makes the most sense for your organization, i.e. size, machine, and system administration. Don’t leave anything out.
  • Disaster recovery location:   Each department, by database and file, will need to be recreated in the case of a disaster. Where would the data best reside for each department to operate in the case of a total loss?

Backup Plans and Restore Requirements

Usually, folks consider recovery policies first—how long to keep stuff and how many copies. What you want to get at is the sometimes ineffable RTO and RPO. Beginning with the RTO and RPO restore requirements, however, demands some order. Once you lay down the foundation for data protection according to categories, you can then set the recovery policies that eventually form the backup policies.

This set of recovery requirements—according to categories you can easily grasp—can only be gathered by including the entire staff. By categorizing departments, data, and recovery, you can turn chaos into direction. By engaging the entire staff, the resulting data protection solution will be much easier to roll out.

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