[ISN] Disaster recovery taken to heart

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Feb 26 2003 - 22:57:59 PST

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    By Mario Apicella
    FEBRUARY 25, 2003
    If there's one trend highlighted in the 2003 InfoWorld Storage Survey 
    that everyone should take to heart, it is this: Business continuity, 
    taking adequate measures to recover storage equipment from a disaster, 
    has become part of a CTO's daily life and is no longer an afterthought 
    or a placebo to pacify questioning auditors. 
    Although not all 405 survey respondents are flying the disaster 
    recovery flag, an overwhelming majority - nine out of 10 - has already 
    cemented a disaster recovery plan for storage equipment or will have 
    one in place within the year. These IT leaders are reacting to the 
    ubiquitous threat of political terrorism, which joins the ranks of an 
    already exceedingly long list of dangers including natural disasters, 
    utility grid failures, catastrophic accidents and human errors.
    As the centerpiece of any business continuity plan, protecting storage 
    equipment and company data from disruption requires a thoughtful 
    blending of storage administration, risk assessment and data 
    protection activities. Survey respondents are tuned into that nugget 
    of wisdom—60% of the IT leaders we polled are involved in both 
    defining disaster recovery procedures and purchasing storage 
    It may be stating the obvious, but the most effective way to preserve 
    critical company data is to create copies, either online or on backup 
    media, in case the original becomes corrupted or unavailable; this 
    implies a need to stock up on additional storage devices to host those 
    replicas. As a result, developing proper backup and disaster recovery 
    strategies is the driving factor for new storage acquisitions among 
    survey respondents, with backup projects ranking first at 69% of 
    respondents and disaster recovery third at 57% (the latter is slightly 
    behind the voracious requirements of hosting e-mail databases). A 
    speedy data recovery is essential to getting your company quickly back 
    in business after a failure. Also, if your backup copies are spread 
    across different media formats, rebuilding the online databases can be 
    more time-consuming and complicated.
    When it comes to the media that respondents are using or planning to 
    use for their backup chores, they prefer established formats that 
    offer more capacity and performance. Quantum DLT (digital linear tape) 
    and Super-DLT cartridges are used by 58% of respondents, who seem to 
    appreciate the performance, capacity, and backward-compatibility of 
    that line of tape drives. Moving down the food chain to more compact 
    media, 27% of respondents have deployed 4mm tapes and a good 20% use 
    the 8mm Sony AIT (advanced intelligent tape). Only a small percentage 
    of respondents has chosen the LTO (linear tape open) or other tape 
    technologies. But the real scoop is that a whopping 37%, the second 
    largest group, has already deployed some form of online backup using 
    disk drives rather than cartridges as media, and 24% plan to deploy a 
    similar disk-based backup solution within the year.
    It's fair to infer from these statistics that IT managers are pairing 
    traditional tape-based backup devices with faster and more flexible 
    disk arrays that also reduce the possibility of operating errors 
    (because there's no manual handling of media) and faster restore time. 
    Moreover, this trend indicates a departure from a persistent (and 
    altogether confused) belief that archive copies and temporary 
    duplicates of data have the same requirements. There is a big 
    difference between a copy of a database, such as the general ledger 
    database, made before major software updates and a copy made at 
    year-end book-closing. The former has a short lifespan and more 
    pressing recovery timing that are better served by a disk-based 
    solution, while its regulations-mandated, longer retention time make 
    the latter a proper candidate for tape storage.
    When we asked survey respondents if they had short-term plans to 
    deploy nearline storage solutions to simplify their backups and speed 
    their restores, the answer was yes from 65% of respondents, which 
    essentially confirms and extends the disk-based backup trend emerging 
    from responses to the previous question.
    Fast data recovery is essential for any business recovery process 
    because it minimizes the worst consequences of downtime, including a 
    tarnished image and financial losses for your company. However, 
    protecting data with fast online backups does not prevent disruptions 
    such as those caused by a failing server. If your data is on storage 
    devices that are tightly wired to that machine, a lengthy recovery can 
    still take its dreadful toll on your business.
    To achieve the greatest flexibility and fastest data recovery, your 
    servers and your storage devices should be in different boxes and 
    accessed via a network rather than inflexible connections such as SCSI 
    cables. Inevitably, the subject of storage recovery leads to a 
    networked storage solution such SAN and NAS. The networked storage 
    approach may be more expensive, but it offers an undeniable advantage: 
    A broken, data-less server can be easily and quickly replaced with a 
    standby unit that accesses the same data of its clone over the 
    That simple truth did not escape our respondents, 75% of whom concur 
    that improved backup and disaster recovery capabilities are the main 
    motivations of their SAN project, whereas 71% give the same indication 
    for their NAS deployment.
    When it comes to business continuity and backup recovery strategies, 
    the 2003 Storage Survey respondents draw their own, inescapably 
    logical, conclusions: Data recovery must be an integral part of the 
    storage system design and fortified with resilient, flexible 
    technologies such as disk-based backups and networked storage.
    CTOs should conduct critical reviews of their infrastructure and 
    suggest technical improvements that maximize data recovery and storage 
    flexibility. Deploying networked storage and defining businesswide 
    data recovery strategies should be top priorities.
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