Modernizing Backup and Disaster Recovery with Recovery Zones

Legacy backup practices are challenged to accommodate the application explosion that is upon us in today’s application-driven economy.

Businesses are relying on a growing volume of applications for core, day-to-day processes, and these applications vary widely in terms of their impact on the business. Storage Switzerland classifies these applications as “Mission Critical” (such as Oracle Financials or SAP), “Business Critical” (such as Microsoft Outlook or Exchange), and “Commonly Used” (such as a website or loyalty program). All of these applications must get back up and running in the event of an outage. However, some must get back online more quickly than others, some may also require faster performance during the recovery process, and some may have more stringent recovery point objectives (RPO, effectively how much data will be lost).

The splintering of application requirements compounds the fact that IT has been historically challenged to meet data protection service level agreements (SLAs) due to limited budgets, limited staff, and a limited visibility into the ability of the infrastructure to meet RPOs and recovery time objectives (RTO, effectively the time that a user needs to wait to use the application again).

A dynamic approach that is based on application-specific SLAs is required to effectively protect the modern application paradigm. Foundational to achieving this approach is collaboration and clear communication between IT and the business on what exactly those SLAs must be. IT must be able to clearly articulate what to expect based on the infrastructure and solutions in place, so that the business can make decisions on tradeoffs as needed.

In the face of significant application sprawl, establishing Recovery Zones can help to facilitate clear communication and understanding of SLAs, and also to balance costs against recovery requirements. Mission Critical applications may be classified as Tier 1, often utilizing snapshots and replication to deliver sub-one hour recovery times. Business Critical applications may be classified as Tier 2, utilizing recovery from recovery in place (instant recovery) to deliver sub-four hour recovery times. And Commonly Used applications may be classified as Tier 3, utilizing standard recovery from disk, tape or cloud to deliver sub-eight hour recovery times.

The concept of dynamic recovery zones requires a new generation of backup software that, as opposed to being static and job-based, is outcomes-based. Not only should this software be able to automatically funnel data and applications to the most appropriate Recovery Zone (backup technique and storage), but it should also be able to automatically adjust based on a fluctuating application ecosystem. For instance, the importance of applications changes over time and new applications are spun up frequently (often daily) today – all of which requires resources to be adjusted.

For further discussion on data protection software capabilities to think about when embracing a service level-driven approach, access Storage Switzerland’s webinar in conjunction with Micro Focus, Application Explosion – Rediscovering the Lost Art of Protection Service Levels.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives formedia company TechTarget.

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