Seven steps to backup and restore


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Selecting the software to support your plan
Storage administrators

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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 such as HP's OpenView, Tivoli from IBM, and CA Unicenter, with backup and recovery software from vendors such as Veritas, Computer Associates, Legato, and Tivoli among others. While the leading software vendors provide a rich set of features and functionality in their products, a more holistic view is required for expert management of the backup infrastructure.

Many IT organizations are evolving into internal storage service providers. They are adding value to their organizations by offering expert storage and backup knowledge, improved quality of service and customized backup solutions to meet their customer requirements. As such, these organizations are looking for new software solutions that provide enhanced monitoring, reporting, asset management and chargeback capabilities. When researching backup and recovery management tools, look for the following functionality:
  • Global view of the backup infrastructure. Many large enterprises have multiple data centers that are geographically dispersed. A consolidated, global view of the enterprise environment simplifies backup administration and reporting. A storage administrator may quickly identify information at risk in the event of failed backups, and take corrective action as required.
  • Event driven notification and response. The software management tool should provide cohesive in-band and/or out-of-band monitoring capability for all components in the backup and recovery infrastructure including backup servers, host clients, automated libraries and storage networks.
  • Service level agreement compliance reporting. As internal service providers, IT organizations need to provide their internal and external customers with detailed reports demonstrating their performance against agreed upon SLAs. The software management tools should provide the capability to report on backup and restore success rates, storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) utilization, amount of data backed up per client, backup window utilization and automated library and media utilization. Additionally, the software should provide a mechanism for billing or chargeback based on actual storage consumption and/or backups performed.
Step 7: Monitor the management plan
Obviously, a company's business changes - 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.

Smart storage administrators should perform an internal audit of the plan on a quarterly basis. Some questions that should be brought up when planning include: Is your current backup and recovery infrastructure meeting your needs? Do you have a written and effective backup policies and operational procedures? Are the backups being performed successfully within the defined window? Are restores of file systems and databases successfully tested according to the defined schedule? Are service level agreements being met? Is the disaster recovery process tested on a semi-annually basis?

Other questions you should ask yourself are: How often should you test your recovery procedures? What staffing levels are required for successful backup operations?

In addition, the plan must be flexible enough to handle backup growth. Will it accommodate system upgrades, additional backup clients, and new hardware, software and storage network components?

Navigating the labyrinth of backup and recovery is a significant challenge, with pitfalls at every turn. Creating, implementing, monitoring and maintaining a BRMP can help ensure that your organization's data is protected, available and recoverable.

This was first published in September 2002

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