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The Case for Continuous Data Protection and Imaging in Disaster Recovery Solutions

By:Christine Fettinger

Recovery from data loss is facilitated by making sure the network has consistent, accessible backups of files, email, databases, and system states. Backups are only reliable if they can restore the data when they are needed the most. Legacy solutions such as Tapes, CDs, and DVDs are slow and prone to error. Backups are done at most once a day, and often involve some sort of user interaction, such as replacing tapes, that can be missed due to forgetfulness or absence.

Continuous Data Protection operates on the premise that recovery should be available from any point in time rather than a single static time once a night or week. It ensures that all files are backed up on a continuous basis and are available in multiple historic versions. It also ensures that all servers and their applications (Exchange, SQL, Active Directory, etc) are protected with multiple-point-in-time versions for disaster recovery. When a file is changed, only the changed data is backed up which saves valuable space and time.

Recovery time is a fraction of that provided by legacy solutions. It’s as simple as opening the backup agent or management console, finding the file in the folder tree, and choosing what time to restore from. The software can even allow users to restore their files themselves thus reducing helpdesk calls.

For a further enhancement of Disaster Recovery, we add on top of this a hardware-independant imaging product. This can be installed on all servers, or just critical servers, which then have periodic images taken on stored onto the backup device. In the event of a hardware disaster, these images can be restored onto an entirely different machine or even a virtual server. By combining this imaging technology with virtual servers, restoring a server into full operational mode can become minutes instead of hours. Now imagine having to recover a dozen servers, say from a fire, and then think about how much time this will save.