Exploring Disk, Tape and Cloud in Disaster Recovery

Topics: Cloud Backup | Data Archive

Backup and recovery are often seen as two sides of the same coin. After all, the purpose of a data backup is the recovery of information. Yet when enterprises try to decide among disk, tape and cloud in disaster recovery, they usually need more than a simple definition of "recovery." Disaster recovery includes the processes, habits, plans and best practices that give an organization the best chance of salvaging critical IT systems and data after a disaster.

Choosing the right vehicle — disk, tape and/or cloud backup — comes from careful assessment and identification of the company's unique, tiered disaster recovery requirements. While each organization's disaster recovery needs are different, the following is a sampling of popular disaster recovery choices for enterprise companies:

Disaster Recovery Words to Live By: Redundant and Offsite

One disaster recovery truism is that there should always be copies of backup data stored and protected at a secure offsite location. Ideally, this location should be far away from the primary data center, even in a different region, if possible.

This advice syncs with the definition of disaster recovery set by the Storage Networking Industry Association, which states that disaster recovery should be "a comprehensive process of setting up a redundant site (equipment and work space) with recovery of operational data."

Getting one or more redundant copies of data offsite is a disaster recovery gold standard. However, the ratio of disk, tape and cloud used to achieve this standard is left to the discretion of the organization.

Tape: The Affordable Workhorse

As a good practice, many enterprise companies have achieved their offsite redundancy goals by routinely backing up their data to tape, and then sending the tapes to a secure third-party for offsite tape vaulting. For many reasons, affordable cost included, many organizations still use this practice today.

However, delays can occur when retrieving and restoring offsite backup tapes. An organization's disaster recovery assessment might find that mission-critical applications need a shorter recovery time objective than what tape allows. This is where other disk and cloud options become useful.

Increasing Popularity of Replication

In the past 10 years, various data replication methods have become popular choices as a natural evolution of enterprise-wide data protection strategies. In the past, replication was a costly proposition that required investing in a second data center before ensuring adequate offsite disaster recovery and replication.

When it comes to disaster recovery options today however, organizations have more affordable options to ensure the secure and rapid replication, transport and digital storage of their data from Point A — typically a primary data center — to Point B, an secondary offsite data center provided by an external cloud or colocation service.

There are many replication nuances and methods to choose from, including cloud providers that offer disaster recovery as a service. Many backup software and hardware vendor solutions at customer sites also offer extensible replication functionality to the cloud.

Replication From DPA to the Cloud

According to a 2015 report from ESG, 67 percent of backup jobs over the next two years will be performed by some type of backup appliance or data protection appliance (DPA). DPAs, also called purpose-built backup appliances (PBBA), can improve backup times while reducing storage space required via deduplication. Recognizing the need for more affordable offsite disaster recovery, leading DPAs now offer streamlined replication of previously deduplicated data to a secondary appliance hosted at one or more external cloud providers. New cloud pricing models are also available to allow offsite disaster recovery with DPA replication, based on some type of pay-per-consumption rate.

Meeting offsite disaster recovery requirements no longer requires investment in a separate, costly disaster recovery site. Technology innovation and new choices in disk, tape and cloud backup make it easier than ever to afford viable offsite disaster recovery.

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