Improve recovery time for email and file servers, and spend less on remote replication

This is a growing concern in the industry today because we've seen data growth at 50-60% on a yearly basis. The file servers are getting huge. Mail servers are becoming just impossible to manage or to restore. And a lot of that [difficulty] is caused by a fear of making an actual decision with respect to the data because of all these compliance issues -- we're afraid to delete data now because that may get us in trouble, so we've seen these servers grow to become enormous.

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Yet, sometimes we can't restore them. I've seen instances where a file server took 72 or more hours to be restored. In some cases, that's completely unacceptable from a recovery time objective (RTO) perspective. The first thing that comes to mind is: "We'll have to replicate all that data and have a standby file server ready to come up should something happen." Well if that's what you can afford, and what you need, that's fine.

But, if you can't afford to spend that kind of money, yet need access to your data, today there's a number of solutions out there that allow you to make your mail servers and your file servers a lot leaner from a data perspective. I'm talking about archiving products here. Enterprise Vault from Symantec is a fine example. You can actually take some attachments or some email messages or some files on a file server and move them to another type of storage -- lower cost storage or potentially storage that you will not restore immediately should something happen.

What we're looking at here is an opportunity to reduce the size of your mail server (e.g., Exchange) to a size that is easy to backup, easy to restore and that contains what you need to access on a daily basis.

The beauty of a lot of these solutions is they're a little like HSM -- they move the bulk of the data to another location, but leave a little pointer in your email program or on your file server. So, from a user perspective, everything is still there [on the server]. They look at it; they see it; if they click on it, it may take a little longer to come up, but the file is still there. You're not hiding that data really, you're just putting it somewhere else, and you're leaving a bit of a shortcut. That allows your servers to be much leaner, and it really enhances the recoverability. You can back them up in a nightly cycle, and you can restore these servers within a reasonable timeframe.

Listen to Pierre's answer to this question or download the entire Disaster recovery FAQ audiocast.

Go to the beginning of the Disaster Recovery FAQ Guide

This was first published in August 2006

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