Backup and Replication - Why do I need them both?

Backup and Replication - Why do I need them both?

This blog post is to discuss backup and replication technologies, the purposes of both and how, what I recommend using and how some vendors are bundling the two functions when not necessarily needed.

The purposes of backup and replication often become blurred due to misuse or misunderstanding of the terms.

A backup is a point in time copy of data that enables recovery in a data loss event and also the ability to recover from an earlier point in time so in the event data is changed or becomes corrupted it can be recovered. Typically backup is enabled via a software product or dedicated hardware appliance.

Replication can be a real time or point in time replica of data. In the event of data loss or corruption, data can quickly be brought back online via the replica. Replication if correctly implemented enables a quicker recovery time objective than backup and lower recovery point objective if real time replication is configured. Typically replication is enabled via a software product, built-in application capabilities or via built-in storage mirroring capabilities.

A common question from executive is so why do I need both?
 The answer to this depends on the regulatory requirements of the business and sector you work in and also the required recovery time objective and recovery point objective of your business. However, in the majority of environments businesses use a combination of backup and replication technologies to provide a comprehensive business continuity plan.
 The average cost of outages as detailed via IDC for the Fortune 1000 is $100,000 per hour with the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year being $1.25 to $2.5 billion! This proves data is the lifeblood of organisations and outages these days have a very high cost to businesses. Therefore ensuring you have a real time replica of data with a tested low recovery point and recovery time objective is crucial.
 Point in time replicas or backup is then used to enable the longer retention of data so businesses can recover back over a longer period in time with a lower storage and cost footprint than replication. This is required for a number of scenarios including the event of data being manually deleted via user error, data is corrupted and not noticed for a period of time, they ensure regulatory requirements are met or data has been hit via ransomware and replicated.
 Both technologies are delivering SLAs to the business.

What are the most common methods to backup and replicate data?
 Most of the 150+ organisations I have worked within tend to use a software product to perform backup and built-in storage mirroring or a software product to perform replication.

How do businesses implement comprehensive business continuity plans?
 The first key piece to the puzzle is understand the requirements of the business you work within. Sit down with the lines of business managers and confirm the requirements they have and place these into a service catalog that clearly defines the SLAs in relation to RTOs, RPOs & VROs. Tectrade can help with this using our templated service catalog so let us know if you're struggling on where to start.

Once you have a service catalog you need to ensure you have the products and processes to support the service catalog.

The most modern backup product on the market is IBM's Spectrum Protect Plus this enables you to deliver SLAs to the business via SLA driven policies being clearly defined in the product. The product is fast, light-weight, low-cost and easy to use. Not only does it provide Business Continuity in the event of small or large disasters and Archive Compliance for long term data retention it will also enable data owners to use copies of their environment for other business functions.

One of the legacy vendors Spectrum Protect Plus competes with is Veeam.
 The backup and replication package from Veeam means you are paying for backup and replication even if you only want backup and with point in time replication available free with vSphere replication you're basically being forced to spend more than needed!

Unlike Veeam Spectrum Protect Plus is fully featured from the smallest installation. Veeam also is heavily reliant on Windows as its underlying OS and on SQL server as it database both of which require licensing. Spectrum Protect Plus is delivered as a virtual appliance which can run on Vmware or Hyper-V with no OS or database licensing required.

Other advantages of Spectrum Protect Plus over Veeam include:
 Global file indexing allowing files to be tracked cross-VM and hypervisor. Veeam limits its search to the VM Level. This means via role based access control you can enable users with self-service restore and Google like searchability of backups.
 Protect Plus has advanced copy data management functions not available in Veeam. VM or Array snapshots can be requested by end users triggering workflows. This eliminates IT Administrators from complex data re-use tasks which slow down business operations and require extra infrastructure.

Protect Plus assigns operations to SLAs, meaning that the operators have clear and concise understanding of the status of data protection. No messing around working out which VMs are in which groups or policies and how they combine to deliver the required data protection. SLAs are quickly and easily understood, which means the owners of the VMs can be assured of their compliance to company and regulatory requirements without taking up expensive administrator time. A free 90 day trial of Spectrum Protect Plus is available here

In summary to enable a comprehensive business continuity plan you need the following 3 things:
 • A defined service catalogue that clearly defines the SLAs in relation to RTOs, RPOs & VROs
 • A storage or hypervisor replication technology such as IBM Spectrum Virtualize or VMware vSphere replication
 • A backup technology such as IBM Spectrum Protect Plus

If you want to talk more around backup and replication to enable a comprehensive business continuity plan for your business or want to challenge us to beat how Veeam currently works in your environment please feel free get in contact with me.