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Best Practices: Sorting out remote-office backup

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Option 4. Replicate primary data to a remote location with no local backup. This option leverages technologies such as host- or array-based snapshot and replication to ensure that an offsite copy of data exists.

There are also additional considerations that can significantly influence the final design and technology choices:

  • Administration and management. Is the control and operation to be centralized or distributed? A high degree of centralization would tend to favor Option 3 or 4.


  • Bandwidth. How much data must be protected? Does sufficient bandwidth exist given the data volumes to permit consideration of remote options? Large remote sites may need to adopt some variation of Option 1 or 2.


  • Security. What data access and encryption policies are in place or anticipated? Any option needs to account for security, but those involving local administration and tape handling are a particular concern.


  • Recoverability. In the event of primary data loss, what are acceptable recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives for the remote environment? Remote recovery can mean substantial downtime, eliminating Options 3 and 4.


  • Data type. Some remote locations offer only file and print services, while others provide other application services. Application support can impact the range of remote-backup options, including consideration of application-specific

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  • backup and replication technologies.


  • Policy. Coordinating consistent data policies across many remote locations can be daunting. But regulations may demand the ability to audit policies and provide proof of compliance, again favoring centralized control and monitoring solutions.


  • Cost. Remote backup design decisions often end up as a compromise due to cost constraints. To fully understand cost tradeoffs requires precise inputs--data quantities, change rates and growth estimates--and realistic bandwidth calculations, factoring in data-reduction and WAFS efficiencies.

This was first published in September 2007

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