CDP provides the easiest and most effective protection against the loss of critical business data.
Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the white paper "Benefits of CDP Technology in i5/OS and AIX Environments," which you can download free from the MC White Paper Center.
Downtime and data loss pose intolerable risks to every business. From IT departments to the boardroom, managers understand that business uptime and data protection relate directly to productivity and profitability. This article explains effective strategies and technologies to protect data and to provide fast recovery should data be lost or corrupted due to accident or malicious action.
In implementing an operational plan that ensures quick data and application recovery, IT managers encounter several challenges:
• Ensuring continuous data and application recovery without impacting business operations
• Having the right data protection strategies to meet recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives
• Affording a comprehensive plan that covers both local and remote disaster recovery requirements
• Finding cost-effective alternatives to meet their requirements
Businesses, particularly those with IBM i and AIX IT departments, encounter a variety of data risks and need a data protection and recovery strategy to keep the organization running.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
The two most important metrics for determining optimal capabilities of any data protection strategy are the recovery time objective (RTO) and the recovery point objective (RPO). RTO defines how quickly you need to restore data and applications and have them fully functional again. The faster your RTO requirement, the closer you move to zero interruption in uptime and the highest level of data protection. RPO defines the point at which the business absolutely cannot afford to lose data. It points to a place in each data stream where information must be available to put the data back in operation.
Tape Backups: First Line of Defense
If you're like most businesses, you're using some form of tape backup protection today. Periodically, someone shuts down applications to perform a tape backup. Depending on the volume of data being copied, this could take hours and require manual intervention to set up the backup job, run it, confirm it occurred, and then return the application to operation.
Tape is used for backup and archive because it is very inexpensive. However, the technology is old, and tape backup comes with its own challenges:
• It's time-intensive and potentially disruptive to applications.
• It's usually not performed more than once a day and sometimes only once every several days.
• Fewer recovery points mean you risk losing large amounts of recent data that cannot be recovered (RPO concerns).
• Recovery from tape takes extensive time and effort (RTO concerns).
• Tape is not entirely reliable: even "saved" data may be lost.
Pinpoint the Most Valuable Data for Your Business
Most data recovery requests are for relatively recent data, and there is a direct correlation between the age of data and the possibility it will be needed for restore purposes. Most requests are results of inadvertently deleted files or data corruption from viruses or hackers. Typically, these issues are discovered relatively quickly, resulting in restore requests for more recent data being more common.
Matching Business Needs to Data Protection and Recovery Solutions
How do you best meet the data recovery requirements of each system in your organization and achieve optimum RTO and RPO appropriate for your business? An organization's critical information might require exceptionally fast recoverability.
Different RTOs and RPOs can exist for different types of business-critical information. For example, a supply chain application that feeds a production plant may require a recovery time of only a few minutes with very minimal data loss.
Continuous Data Protection (CDP): A Breakthrough Innovation
Technical innovations have kept pace with the need to provide comprehensive data protection by enabling quick, easy, effective recovery. The most exciting innovation in this area is continuous data protection, or CDP.
CDP is flexible disk-based technology that enables businesses to recover data to any point in time. For example, users accidentally delete critical files, and viruses often corrupt business data. CDP enables you to recover a version of the data to a point in time prior to the accidental deletion or corruption.
Unlike tape backups, CDP technology does not require interruption of applications to perform backups. It works continuously to back up data to an alternate server. If you accidentally delete an important document or experience data corruption, you can return to the point in time just before the problem occurred with just the push of a button.
With CDP, both data protection and data recovery occur in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the labor resources required by a tape-only strategy. The CDP solution achieves its goals through its architecture and configuration. It is important to note the difference between "true CDP" and "near CDP" solutions when evaluating your data protection strategy. True CDP captures every data write and transfers it to a secondary disk, which enables a data "undo" by allowing recovery to any point in time. Near CDP differs from true CDP in that you can recover only to specific pre-set points in time.
High availability solutions also replicate the production environment to a backup server in real time and enable you to switch operations to a backup in the event of downtime. However, when high availability replicates data in real time, it also faithfully replicates corrupted data. Combining high availability and CDP provides seamless protection against data loss, data corruption, and any type of IT or application downtime.
Taking the Next Step
For businesses looking to take the next step with a data protection strategy, CDP is an essential consideration. Most IT analysts agree businesses will incorporate this strategy in the next few years as part of an integrated solution. CDP enables you to reverse data corruption much more quickly and easily than you can with tape, doesn't require planned downtime for backups, and recovers data instantly at the push of a button. Used as a standalone solution or integrated into a high availability solution, CDP provides the easiest and most effective protection against the loss of critical business data.
For more information about CDP and its benefits, download the free white paper "Benefits of CDP Technology in i5/OS and AIX Environments" from the MC White Paper Center.