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Data Protection Workflow

I was speaking with Bocada and Tek-Tools last week about their focus on
helping customers solve their data protection challenges. If you think
about it there is no shortage of solutions to protect your environment,
and I am encountering more than a few data centers that have the same
data set protected four or five times. Ironically, they don't feel
anymore comfortable about recovery. The problem is a lack of
process or workflow to all these point solutions.

This lack of confidence leads to multiple data protection methods such as snapshots, continuous data protection, application
specific backup, environment specific backup, enterprise backup and
replication, to name a few. The lack of a workflow or process leads to a
duplication (or triplication) of effort. It also leads to not knowing
what protected copy to turn to first in the case of a failure. The lack
of a workflow may also lead to a resistance to continuous testing
because without a workflow, knowing what part of recovery to test can be

The large vendor response to this has been to try to consolidate as
much of this data protection as possible into a single package;
Enterprise Data Protection, and there is nothing wrong with that if
that vendor can cover all your specific needs. Despite the enterprise
protection vendor's best efforts many environments opt for additional
protection. Look at the rise in application specific protection tools
like those from Kroll Ontrack and AppAssure or platform specific tools
like those from Vizioncore or Veeam. Finally, there often is an
operating system itself that is awarded special treatment and the
administrator is allowed to use their own tool.

The reality is that no matter how good and how complete the enterprise data
protection applications become, you will have other data protection
processes in your environment. What's needed is a unifying tool that
can help you build your own workflow around data protection. There is
nothing wrong with protecting something more than once as long as you
know its happening, and as long you know which protection copy you are
going to count on for recovery.

The workflow should of course inventory all the data protection steps
that are occurring in the environment, then it should help you identify
what can be eliminated. For example do you really need Exchange backed
up twice? If you are using an Exchange specific tool, can you have your
backup application back up the data that the exchange specific tool
creates? There are pros and cons to each choice. Developing a workflow allows
you to decide which is best.

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