Backup with Business Continuity in mind

Designing backup systems after assessing Business Continuity requirements results in better data protection and shorter business interruption

This case Study Shows how adopting a “Business Continuity” approach to data backup improved the data protection regime for a small professional firm

Business Continuity UK examined and re-organised the firm’s backup regime having first examined the Business Continuity requirements. As a consequence, the client now has a backup system that is fit for purpose. Data is protected against likely hazards and can be restored within required time limits.

Prior to conducting the BIA, the client had no clear objectives for its backup system and had just taken an IT-centric view of backup. Analysis showed that the previous backup system was inadequate to meet the actual needs of the business.

Background

The client employs 10 engineers to work on client projects. Extensive use is made of specialist software tools, electronic mail and office productivity tools. To meet their IT needs, the client installed Microsoft Small Business Server to hold the data files, run Microsoft Exchange and a couple of database applications. They opted to use Symantec Backup Exec to run daily and weekly backup jobs for the server; using a mix of Digital Linear Tape and Backup to Disk.

After a fault developed on the tape drive, Business Continuity UK was asked to examine whether the backup system met the actual needs of the business and to recommend action where necessary.

Existing backup regime

After discussions with the client and conducting a simple Business Impact Analysis, it became apparent that the existing backup regime left a lot to be desired.

  • The volume of data stored on the server was too great for the tape drive; even when it was working. This resulted in the need to use multiple tapes. As the drive did not have an auto-changer; this caused extended backup delays.
  • The design of the backup regime meant that there was no protection against a fire in the computer room or building. Tapes were stored off-site; but this would result in an extended delay if a full restore was required: e.g. after a hardware failure.

Potential solutions

The following changes were explored:

  1. Replace the tape drive with a higher capacity alternative and an auto-changer
  2. Use an on-line backup solution with data stored off-site
  3. Move to a pure disk-based backup system with the backups stored elsewhere in the building rather than in the computer room
  4. Move to a pure disk-based backup system with the backups stored off-site via a VPN connection

A simple cost-benefit analysis showed that options 1 and 2 were too expensive. in addition, option 1 failed to meet the need to protect against a fire and option 2 failed to meet the need for fast restoration.

Final Solution

In the end, a combination of options 3 and 4 was adopted.

  • A high capacity Network Attached Storage (NAS) device was installed in the office and Backup Exec was configured to use this as a Backup to Disk target.
  • A combination of Hourly, Daily and Monthly jobs were configured to backup the various elements of the server to the NAS.
  • A second NAS was installed in the home of one of the firm’s senior partners and configured to backup the local NAS on a daily basis.

Summary

By approaching the design of the backup system from the data protection needs of the business, rather than a purely IT-centric approach, the client now has a more cost-effective backup regime that meets the needs of the business. Its data is protected better than before, restoration is faster and more risks are covered.

Next Action

If you’re not sure that your backup regime meets the needs of your business, or if you simply want to talk over your options, call me on 01480 476 297 today!


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One Response to Backup with Business Continuity in mind
  1. RT @GarethHowell2011Always have your Business Continuity needs in mind when you design your backup environment http://bit.ly/e4P0PB