Modern businesses rely on a large number of divergent applications. As previously blogged by Storage Switzerland, this application sprawl creates the need for a tiered, service level-driven approach to data protection. While the organization’s most mission critical applications require a “gold” level of protection that is based on near-continuous backups and fastest recovery speeds, providing this level of protection to all applications would be cost prohibitive. As a result, tiering levels of data protection based on the application’s criticality to the business is now a necessity.
For transactional, run-the-business applications including Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint as well as MySQL databases, storage managers should employ application-consistent as opposed to crash-consistent backup technologies.
Crash-consistent backups take a snapshot of all of a virtual machine’s data at a singular point in time, and as a result do not capture any data that was in memory or in a pending input/output (I/O) transaction at the time the snapshot was taken. This is significant for transactional applications because they write application memory to log files before moving the data to the database. As a result, if the contents of storage memory are flushed to disk before the snapshot is retaken, they will not be captured. Through a crash-consistent approach, the database will need to use journaling technology, which tracks changes to data over a period of time, to integrate the log files into the database. This not only adds extra steps and time to the recovery process, but it also increases the chances of data corruption and data loss. Application-consistent backups, on the other hand, use a driver to communicate to the virtual machine that a snapshot is about to occur, signaling that all data in memory and pending I/O operations needs to be flushed to disk.
Enterprises are pressured to retain more data than ever before, to adhere with compliance regulations a la the European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), to facilitate business continuity, and to address increasingly demanding consumer expectations. Application-consistent recovery for critical applications can facilitate stringent recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs). Storage professionals should look for the flexibility to recover individual files, an application environment, or a system as a whole via native integration.
For more on how to structure data protection policies effectively to meet divergent and demanding, application-specific data protection requirements, access Storage Switzerland’s webinar in collaboration with Micro Focus, “Application Explosion – Rediscovering the Lost Art of Protection Service Levels,” on demand.