You Can Afford It
Implementing a disaster recovery strategy is critical, but is often delayed for two
It’s complicated to evaluate business operations to find critical data that
needs to be made available first after a disaster, then calculate the
target RPO and RTO for that data.
The perception that a disaster recovery solution that meets targets is too
As Storage Switzerland noted recently, tapes are holding their position as an
affordable backup solution that can also be used for disaster recovery. So, if you
are using tape for backup here’s how to set up for recovery after a data disaster:
1. Optimize Tape Rotation For Recovery:
There a 2 main ways to use tapes for DR. The most common way is to keep
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday tapes with full overnight backups of
everything and take them offsite each day. The second option to do a full backup
over the weekend and add incremental each day to capture changes is generally
more efficient. The granularity of recovery is the same for a lower cost and less
time spent managing the tapes.
Then, depending on the needs of your business, have another tape backup copy,
for example each Friday of the month. They can stay onsite in a fireproof safe,
for recovering an accidentally deleted folder, for instance. Most safes aren’t melt
proof, so after a certain amount of time the tapes will still be vulnerable.
Then, for archival purposes, make 6 (or 3 or 9) monthly tapes, that can go to a
bank safety deposit box, these are the last line of defense and should definitely
limit your recovery
capabilities after a
2. Consider The Recovery Environment
Are you in a tornado prone area? It may take days to receive a new server after a
storm damages road and communication infrastructure in the area. In this case,
an extra auto-loader and server could be kept offsite with the daily backup
offsite storage location might also be where you’d personally go
during an evacuation, for example.
In a fire or theft scenario, new hardware can be overnighted, but that still puts
company data at a 24-36 hour recovery window. This may be a manageable risk
or totally unacceptable, depending on the nature of the business.
Using tape backups for disaster recovery can be pretty complex, but are a good
way to leverage existing equipment to put a DR strategy in place.
The Costs of Tape,
The 3 main options that a medium sized company has when building a disaster
recovery strategy are:
1. Physically moving tapes or drives offsite.
2. Replicating data between offices or to an offsite co-lo data center
3. DR-as-a-Service from the cloud
This section will address the best situations for each solution, the
disadvantages, and the always crucial – costs of each.
1. Physically moving tapes or drives offsite.
The best situation for a tape-based DR strategy is when a company’s RTO can be
comfortably in the 2-5 day range. A retail business or a school that will be closed
after a natural disaster, fire, or major theft is an example of an organization that
can comfortably leverage offsite tape backups for DR.
The main disadvantage of tape-based DR is in day-to-day operations. The
amount of effort it takes to replace a single accidentally deleted file or folder
means that some user files just go unrecovered.
The cost of tape DR
creeps up over time
The cost of maintaining a tape DR plan is low when you consider that the
hardware has already been paid for, but it also creeps up over time. For
example, it costs about $5,225 a year for weekly tape pick-up and drop-off
according to an analysis we did using a sample environment with 2TB and 20
2. Replicating backup data between offices or to an offsite co-lo
This is a popular choice for IT directors who have multiple offices with IT assets
in each. There’s a lot of flexibility for “roll-your-own” solutions with this approach,
and it’s possible to use existing hardware this way also. There are plenty of
backup software options that will let you use old fileservers as a backup target
and then replicate the backup server in the main office to one in a remote office.
Regardless of the method used, the key benefit is replication. In case of a
disaster in the main office, you can VPN into the remote backup server and start
to recover. This works just as well for production server crashes in the main
office and helping users with their accidentally deleted folders.
DR from a co-lo data
space, power, and
The costs of this solution vary widely. If you happen to have multiple offices with
existing IT assets then, just like above, it’s possible to get disaster recovery
ready with just a few extra licenses for the backup software. However, if you
don’t have a remote office, renting rack space in a local co-lo data center can
get really expensive with the space, power, and management fees.
Alternatively, buying multiple backup appliances for different offices to replicate
between can be a way to get strong data protection. Over a few TB, the price of
multiple appliances starts to get pretty high, but some CFOs prefer a big up-front
cost they can amortize, rather than a regular monthly bill.
3. DR-as-a-Service from the cloud.
A cloud, or online, disaster recovery strategy has the most advantages for small
IT teams with over 1TB of backup data that don’t have time manage multiple
data centers or tape rotation schedules. Double that for companies that have
remote offices without their own IT assets.
Cloud DR needs a
replica file system,
not just a backup
To really use the cloud for DR the data has to be a replica of your live file system
in its native format. Having a replica file system lets end users recover their own
individual files over the web, and lets IT recover to dissimilar hardware, and have
complete control over which files and databases are restored first.
The costs for cloud disaster recovery are mostly driven by the size of data being
protected and the level of security and support available. For example, Zetta
costs $225 a month to replicate 500GB of data in the cloud. An enterprise-grade
security infrastructure, SSAE-16 audited service processes, and 24x7 U.S. based
support, costs more than using backup software with one of the big cloud
A Note About Instant
One of the biggest advantages of cloud disaster recovery is the ability to
instantly recover files, folders, and databases. However, the term “instantly” has
2 meanings in this context and it’s important to be aware of each.
1. Fast data transfer technology makes recovery feel
Recovering an individual file from the cloud can seem to happen instantly, if the
file is small and it’s being recovered over an internet connection with 10MBps of
bandwidth, for example. Recovering a whole server or entire office worth of data
is a different story. Consumer-grade cloud backup services aren’t designed for
high-speed recovery, and will significantly extend recovery time.
Zetta is the only cloud disaster recovery service that uses the WebDAV protocol
to transfer data over HTTP, just like the internet itself. This means data transfer
speeds are unmatched by competitors.
2. Replicated file systems can be recovered instantly because data
isn’t kept in a proprietary backup format
Disaster Recovery solutions that use a “snapshot & replicate” strategy can be
instantly recovered because data doesn’t have to be unpacked, and IT can
choose just what to recover, instead of having to download big chunks of data
then pull the critical files out.
Businesses that have data with sensitive IP or compliance requirements like
FINRA or HIPPA and want to use a cloud DR strategy need to pay particular
attention to the security level provided by vendors on their shortlist.
1. Ask about SSAE-16 audited policies
SSAE-16 is an auditing standard that verifies service providers (like cloud DR
vendors) are following their published data integrity policies. This becomes very
important for compliance standards or legal situations when chain-of-custody
has to be established for data.
2. Ask about technical penetration testing
Security is always important, but having a cloud DR vendor with regular 3rd party
penetration testing means it won’t be your company’s data splashed on the front
page of TechCrunch.
Zetta is an enterprise-grade online server backup, cloud storage, and disaster
recovery solution for SMBs.
The key features are:
Multi-platform support (18 Linux, Windows, and Mac platforms)
Appliance-free (can be deployed in 15 minutes)
Enterprise-grade Security (encryption, SSAE 16, SAS 70)
Fast data transfer rates (over 1TB/day)
Reliability (RAID-6, RAIN-6, Geo-dispersed data centers)
Secure data access and recovery via the web
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.zetta.net.