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Choosing the Right SAN based Backup Method

When utilizing any IT system as a means of data storage and/or communication, it is essential to ensure that any and all data loss is prevented. When utilizing a dedicated network that consolidates data to make this accessible to servers, it is even more imperative to ensure this block data is protected. There are many reasons why  SAN-based backup is a key element to maintain the functionality of any given system and server environment.

To “back up” ones data simply means to have a copy of this data created that can be stored in an external and secure location to the original data. Backup copies of any and all data can then be recovered and used to rebuild the system and restored to the primary storage location. This process is not as labor and time intensive as one might think, and when compared to the alternative, is extremely preferable. Without backing up ones data, when a system error or other malfunction occurs, data could very well be lost permanently with recovery of original data very unlikely depending on the type of data loss.

Data loss may occur due to a variety of different factors: hardware failures, application failures, human errors and security breaches (viruses, hackers, etc.). With the increase in availability of storage arrays, the likelihood of hardware failures resulting in data loss has been significantly reduced. Hardware features are such that failure of the hardware itself need not result in data loss, but this does not prevent other system errors causing data loss. Human error data loss is much more common, with important files being deleted accidentally quite frequently. Thus, for the future efficacy of ones system, when using  SAN-based systems the disaster and recovery plan must include  SAN backup.

SANs are a great resource for businesses, governmental agencies, and individuals to increase data storage and security, but there are some tricky elements in undergoing  SAN based backup that should be noted. There are multiple ways to approach the backup process in general; the most basic being LAN-less backup to shared tape library, whereby the  SAN is used as the data path. Using the  SAN eliminates the need for backup using corporate LAN and also takes away the imposition of having to perform backups on production applications; this means having the ability to backup ones data at any time, without risk of slowing down or stalling performance efficiency.

An additional option using  SAN-based backup strategies is often called ‘server-less backup’, whereby data is also copied to shared tape library through  SAN, but uses a relatively new protocol in which an electronic mechanism is used to move data straight from disk drives to the tape library. Following this method eliminates the need for servers in the data transfer and backup process. There is alternatively a disk based backup method, where shared tape libraries and individual tapes are being cast aside for the cheaper disk alternative. Using a disk-to-disk backup method, data is simply transferred from the primary disk set to another set of disks that are likely to be less expensive and more numerous. The benefit of the latter option is cost effectiveness as well as quicker restoration times (where backup data can become primary data very simply and efficiently).

The aforementioned SAN-based backup strategies are relatively simple and highly utilized, but there are again other options that businesses can choose to take for their backup needs. One can use image copy SAN-based backup whereby exact duplicates of original data are created on a disk in the same primary disk array. This “image copy” is stored on a disk that can be use to recover data almost instantaneously should the primary disk suffer failure. Finally, there is the SAN data remote backup method, which involves the replication of data from one site to an external site through a supplementary SAN. This backup strategy allows for data to be kept safe in case of a physical or natural disaster, where data will be safe in an external site location.

Whichever SAN-based backup method one chooses for their disaster recovery needs, it should be chosen according to ones business and individual needs, and reflect the most likely risks posed to their IT systems. For any backup needs, can provide quality SAN-based methods in an efficient and cost-effective manner.


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