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Best Practices: Will your data recovery strategy work for DR?

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Not all data is created equal or is necessary for business continuity, so a tiered data recovery plan can be most effective.


Data recovery solution, whether remote or local, is a set of technologies that supports your disaster recovery (DR) strategy. This combination forms the backbone of your company's business-continuity program. Your

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data recovery solution must be as crisp and predictable as possible because there's no room for error or a second chance when it's needed. Is your data recovery solution working to make your DR solution successful?

Data recovery by tape alone isn't a complete data recovery solution for DR because you need your data right away when disaster strikes. Whether you're recovering data from a few feet away or a few hundred miles, relying on tape to recover your core apps and data is risky and time consuming. The truck carrying the tapes might not reach the destination in time, environmental factors can damage media or the tapes may be unreadable. You should use tape as a backup (literally), not as a primary recovery solution.

Keep it simple
A well-implemented solution doesn't have to be complex. A simple data recovery solution has the least amount of customization and is implemented with out-of-the-box technologies. A data recovery solution shouldn't end up as a garage project or college thesis. If you need to create full-time positions to support your data recovery solution, it's time for a reality check. It's not about proving how well someone can script, but rather how easily it can work.

When recovering data during a disaster, you need to do so swiftly and with 100% success. A simple solution allows one to focus on the nontechnical aspects of getting the business back up and running. Your plan shouldn't have too many hidden dependencies, customized components or one-offs, but don't oversimplify and leave out critical details. Keep in mind that the person executing the recovery is unlikely to be the one who designed or implemented the plan.

On the other hand, the learning curve for out-of-the-box solutions isn't that steep. They're often well documented and most vendors offer some sort of formal training that lets you have more than one person trained in managing it.

Go multivendor, but don't overdo it
Don't rely on a single vendor for your recovery plan. The luxury of calling a single support number isn't much of an advantage if the vendor is incapable of providing the right set of technologies.

While vendors might like you to believe otherwise, no single vendor is in a position to supply a set of technologies that make it absolutely unnecessary to look elsewhere when building a complete data replication strategy. Most DR experts will tell you to avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket. But you don't have to be obsessive about being multivendor; in some cases, a single-vendor strategy will suffice. But if you're putting a new plan in place, you should try to evaluate "best-of-breed" products that--with perhaps a little effort--can be made to work together to meet your DR objectives.

This was first published in August 2007

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