Disaster Recovery

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The frightening thing about e-business is that it only takes one hard disk crash or a determined hacker to wipe out essential information. Traditional backups work, but maintaining periodic backups is a daunting task that most system administrators would like to avoid.

But, never fear, the storage industry is providing alternative ways to keep your information safe and sound. You can learn all about those options, including storage area networks and storage service providers, when you subscribe to Gary Phillips’ Enterprise Storage Space.

Each Wednesday, Gary Phillips, manager of systems technology in the Storage Products Division of Compaq Computer Corp., will brief you on the latest trends in the data storage industry. He’ll also cover issues concerning the Storage Networking Industry Association—a consortium dedicated to creating and promoting standards, interoperability, and education for storage networking. And to keep you up on data storage technology jargon, Gary will introduce a storage term each week.

Here’s an example of the great information you’ll receive in Gary Phillips’ Enterprise Storage Space TechMail.

A look at your storage outsourcing options
In my continuing quest to convince the world that outsourcing storage needs warrant serious consideration, here are two storage service providers for your consideration: CreekPath Systems and Connected.

CreekPath offers primary storage, backup service, and special services.

The primary storage service is provided at one of two service levels, both of which come with basic tape backup and retention service included. The service levels differ by RAID level: Gold Service includes RAID 5 disk storage, and Platinum Service includes RAID 10 disk storage.

Backup service extends the basic tape backup service provided with primary storage from weekly to monthly rotation, or it can be purchased without primary service for customers needing only the backup service.

The special services are centered on tape operations and, most particularly, tape restore. I've heard of this business model, but this is the first time I've actually seen it: Backups are free, but you pay for restores.

Connected delivers its service via the Internet, so the company has the advantage of leveraging a well-established infrastructure and almost universal connectivity. The company offers two solutions: Connected Network Backup for enterprise-level customers and Connected Online Backup for small businesses and individuals. Let's focus on the enterprise-level product.

Your data is stored online so every recovery can occur in real time. Individual users manage data recovery (restores), which makes this a very scalable solution. The repair service permits users to completely restore the client system after theft, head crashes, or any other catastrophic failure.

It should be noted that Connected offers these services for Microsoft Windows/Intel (Wintel) PCs only. This may sound like a limited value proposition. However, imagine how much data in your enterprise is stored on desktop and notebook computers. Now think about the failure rate and theft rate of those computers and consider this (be honest): How successful are you at backing up those machines? Connected can help you improve that success rate.
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Learn a new storage term
Gary introduces subscribers to his weekly TechMail to terms taken from A Dictionary of Storage Networking Terminology. Here are some examples:
  • Aggregation—the combining of multiple similar and related objects or operations into a single one. Several disk or tape data streams are sometimes aggregated into a single stream for higher performance. Two or more disks can be aggregated into a single virtual disk for increased capacity. Two or more disks can be aggregated into a RAID array for high availability. Two or more I/O requests for adjacently located data can be aggregated into a single request to minimize request processing overhead and rotational latency.
  • Data striping—a disk array data mapping technique in which fixed-length sequences of virtual disk data addresses are mapped to sequences of member disk addresses in a regular rotating pattern. Disk striping is commonly called RAID Level 0 or RAID 0 because of its similarity to common RAID data mapping techniques. It includes no data protection, however, so strictly speaking, the appellation RAID is a misnomer.
  • A backup window—the period of time available for performing a backup. Backup windows are typically defined by operational necessity. For example, if data is used from 8 A.M. until midnight, then the window between midnight and 8 A.M. is available for making backup copies. For consistent backups, data may not be altered while the backup is occurring, so in some cases a backup window is an interval of time during which data and applications are unavailable.
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