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Pancakes, Doughnuts, French Bread, and Backups

by   in Portfolio

 An odd list to be grouped together, but probably anyone reading this article has an interest in all these items, whether that’s good or not. Before we dive a little deeper into the main article, let’s see if we can make any eliminations to get to our target topic. 

First the most obvious item to eliminate is of course doughnuts. Why? Because it is the only one which has two days each year dedicated to it, and neither of those days are in March. That then means that all the other items do have one day dedicated to them, and they are all in March. Unfortunately, with the timing of this article, we have now missed both Pancake Day and French Bread Day, leaving us with World Backup Day to look forward to.

As with all other national or international days, World Backup Day is intended to draw our attention to a specific topic and get us to think more deeply about it or take some action related to the topic. World Backup Day is 31st March each year and the intention is to highlight the importance of performing backups and protecting our data, but what does this mean? (See also "Are you ready for April Fool's Day?")

 For the majority of people, World Backup Day probably means they should pay more attention to the data they have on their laptops, phone, iPads, cameras and any of the other myriad electronic devices which record and stores data. Many people probably do some form of backup, whether it is the occasional download to a computer and then onto a backup drive. Increasingly commonly, backups are into some cloud storage that has been subscribed to, or which is made available by default with their devices or applications.

Most people are only concerned with the integrity and availability of their own or their family’s personal data. If this is lost and unrecoverable it would be very regrettable, and mostly likely very inconvenient for a while, but is unlikely to be catastrophic in any way. On the other hand, if it is your job to ensure the integrity and availability of any company data and digital assets then any loss would be a different matter entirely. Not having backup copies of any data or not being able to recover it could have dire consequences in cost to the company in revenue, reputation and even threaten the ongoing viability of the company.

What then does World Backup Day mean for the Backup Professional? My own take on it is that there are two aspects to data backup, one of which gets all the attention, the other of which is the most important.

As a backup professional you will work with one or more dedicated data backup and recovery products that you use to protect the company data.  You should be able to backup any source or platform, ranging from unstructured files and media through to structured data in enterprise class application data bases such as SAP, SAP HANA, Oracle, and others. There must be the capability to backup physical infrastructure and virtualized environments as well as different file systems and Operating Systems. As storage technologies have evolved you will also be looking at the ability to backup containers, and cloud-based applications such as Microsoft 365 Online.

You are fully aware of the threat of cyber-attacks and know how prevalent ransomware is and the impact it is having. As a consequence, you know and follow the 3-2-1 rule and want to ensure your backups are immutable or air gapped, and that the backup product has strong security such as encryption, secure peering, and secure communication such as using TLS 1.2 transport layers. Read also "Addressing cyber attacks with the right backup solution".

The volume of data to be backed up continues to grow however, and the backup window continues to reduce as companies require 24x7 operation, so anything that boosts performance is welcome. If deduplication is available, you would use it to reduce network traffic and conserve storage usage. The same applies for Block Based Backup. While multi-threading can help handle the many backup jobs that need to be run daily, weekly, and monthly.

That is a lot to consider, so you rely on the ability to run a variety of reports to help with auditing and compliance, ensuring that scheduled backups complete as required, and to plan for storage growth and storage optimization. Not to mention having dashboards and summary reports available for management.

With all these different aspects to consider, and verifying the data is backed up and protected on different media and in different locations, which of these backup functions could then be considered the most important?

Well, perhaps it is not the backing up that is the most important, but the ability to restore everything again when it is needed the most. If it is not possible to restore the data to a workable state, and if it is not possible to restore it in a reasonable timeframe, then what is the point of performing any backup in the first place.

There are many aspects to consider for a backup product and many questions to ask about the features and capabilities, all of which are important. The most important of all however may be if there are examples of the products ability to restore the data when needed. It is vital that companies can continue to operate with as minimal disruption as possible, even when faced with disastrous data loss or corruption.

Micro Focus Data Protector is one product that has proven itself to not just provide comprehensive, secure backup capabilities, but time and time again has enabled companies to restore their data and resume critical business operations. It is a product that deserves to be looked at when considering what backup protection you want for your company.

So, on World Backup Day, after perhaps some pancakes or French Bread for breakfast, should you be developing a plan to execute a comprehensive data and system recovery test. Maybe you have a recovery test plan, but when was the last time it was tested? Perhaps this will be the day to execute that existing plan, and ensure that all the daily work on the backups will recover the data when it is needed the most.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. Comment below.


The Micro Focus IM&G team

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