At this spring's Storage Networking World conference, one of the more popular questions asked was "How can I protect the data in my remote offices?"
Two things could be agreed upon during such discussions:
The solution is to stop dealing with whole files from the remote offices.
Since replication technology propagates only the bytes that have changed, one can do an initial mirror (think full backup) and then keep the two copies in sync via replication. Now, in your data center, you have a local copy of remote data. So, do a local backup.
Since users aren't actively accessing the second copy of the files, they are natively closed -- regardless of whether the production files are user documents or SQL/Exchange databases. And you can do it without backup agents.
Two last gotchas to consider:
- How to do restores? Most backup applications can do a redirected restore. Even if you backed up the files from FS-TARGET, you can restore them to FS1.
- How about the registry and other bare-metal information? Simply configure the Win2000/2003 server to do a routine dump of its system state (using the built-in backup utility) to a directory that is protected by the replication software -- so that it gets propagated to the data center. Now, if you need to rebuild a server from scratch, you can install a clean O/S, restore the system state and replicate the data and ship the unit. But instead of the server being from last night's backup, the data is minutes older than when the outage occurs.
Bottom line -- more and more critical data (and that which will be most time/labor consuming to replace) exists outside of the corporate data center, so it needs to be protected.
About the Author: Jason Buffington has been working in the networking industry since 1989, with a majority of that time being focused on data protection. He is a Certified Business Continuity Planner and a Microsoft MCT/MCSE. Jason currently serves as the Director of Business Continuity for NSI Software, enabling high availability and disaster recovery via replication software. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in May 2003