Imagine a situation where you wake up, reach your office, and witness the chaos. Because your business applications are not working anymore. And that’s because your business data doesn’t exist anymore! Information about thousands of customers, products, sales orders, inventory plans, pricing sheets, contracts, and a lot more – not accessible anymore. What do you do? Well, if your enterprise has been following data backup best practices, you’ll just smile, and check what the progress on the data restoration is. Alas, problems await. That’s because your people might have committed one of the commonplace yet breakneck mistakes of data backups. Read on to find out.
Fixation of the Act of Backup
Sounds weird, but that’s what most enterprises do, really. Data engineers, security experts, and project managers – everyone is so focused on the act of backup, that they all lose track of the eventual goals of the activity. Recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) should govern every act in the process of data backup. Instead, companies only focus on ensuring that data from every important source is included in the backup.
Nobody, however, pays much heed to backup testing. This, for instance, is one of the key aspects of making your data backup process foolproof. Instead, companies end up facing a need for data restoration, only to realize that the backup file s corrupt, missing, or not compliant with the pre-requisites of the restoration tool.
The solution – make rigorous backup testing a key element of your backup process. There are tools that execute backup tests in tandem with your data backup. If you don’t wish to invest in such tools as yet, make sure you conduct backup testing at least bi-annually.
Not Adopting Data Backup Technologies
What used to be a tedious and strenuous task for administrators and security experts a few years back can now be easily automated using data backup tools. These tools are much more reliable than manual backup operations. What’s more, there will not be the dreaded problems such as those associated with data formats, etc., when the time for restore arrives.
Scheduled backups, simultaneous testing, and execution of backup and restore in sync with your RTO and RPO goals. Of course, businesses must understand the data backup tools available in the market before choosing one.
Unclear Business Requirements (In Terms Of Data Backup And Restore)
Take it from us; one size won’t fit all organizations or processes, when it comes to data backups, whether manual or controlled via a tool. Project managers must understand the business requirements around data to be able to plan their data backup projects well. The backbone of a successful data backup process and plan is a document called recovery catalog. This document captures all necessary details centered on aspects such as:
The different formats of data owned by the business
- The time for which every backup needs to be available for possible restore operations (RPO)
- The priority of different data blocks from a recovery perspective (RTO)
- The recovery document will go a long way in helping you enlist the tools you need for successful management of data backup and recovery. Also, it will help you design better processes and improve existing processes related to the entire lifecycle of data backup.
Right Requirement, Wrong Tool
Your CIOs expectations from your team are governed by the business’ expectations from the entire IT department of the company. There’s nothing wrong with the expectations and requirements, it’s possible, however, that the tools you have are not well suited to fulfill those requirements.
For instance, in an IT ecosystem heavily reliant on virtualization, there are already built in cloning capabilities within these virtualization tools. However, these backups can take disk space almost equal to the entire environment. Now if you need to change your VMs often, your storage will soon be exhausted as you keep on making new copies of updated environments.
If you have clarity on the most important business applications, it becomes easier to work with IT vendors and shortlist data backup tools that can easily integrate with these applications. This could be a massive boost to your enterprise’s data backup capabilities.
Failure to Estimate Future Storage Needs
No doubts, the costs of data storage are on their way down, and chances are they’ll continue to do so. However, almost every business only buys storage based on its estimation of what’s needed. It’s commonplace enough for companies to completely ignore the fact that their data backups will also need space to stay safe. And this is why it’s so important to estimate the data storage requirements after accounting for your data backup objectives. While doing a manual backup, for instance, if the executors realize that there’s not much space to play around with, it’s natural for them to leave out important data. Also, account for the possibilities of increased frequencies of backups in the near future.
Not Balancing Costs of Backup with Suitability of Media
It’s a tough decision, really, to choose between tape and disks for data storage. While tapes are available inexpensively, in plenty, and pretty durable from a maintenance perspective, you can’t really store essentials systems data and business critical applications’ data on tape, because the backups are slow. Estimate the cost of time lost in the slow backup because of tapes while deciding on your storage media options. Often, the best option is to store old and secondary data on tape and use disks for storage of more important data. In this case, you will be able to execute data restoration and complete is sooner than depending purely on tape media.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with data backups. You could lose your backed-up data, run out of space for it, realize the data backup files are corrupted when you try to restore them, and in general, fail to meet the RTO and RPO goals. To do better, understand what leads to these mistakes, and invest time and money in careful planning to stay secure.
Author: Rahul Sharma