From data to donuts – a backup and recovery reality check

Providing a comprehensive data backup and recovery solution has been a foundational service we’ve offered since inception, and over the past dozen years or so, that’s primarily been through our Backup and Recovery Solution, version 1.0, 2.0, and now 3.0. In its most common configuration, a local backup appliance captures the backups of on-premise physical servers and virtual machines, and periodically (typically daily), a consolidated image is sent off-site to our Marlborough data center for an additional air-gapped, off-site recovery copy.

The benefit of the on-site appliance is not only as a locally based backup file repository, allowing for the timely recovery of files and servers as needed, but in the event a local production-environment host/physical server were to fail, the BRS appliance can often be used as a temporary, limited capacity on-site replacement.

However, we’ve had instances where clients have assumed that the BRS appliance would run all of their servers and virtual machines for all of their users for an indefinite amount of time. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the larger the on-site environment, the less likely temporarily running all servers and virtual machines becomes.

The on-site appliances are not designed to be a full replacement for production environment hardware.

It’s not uncommon for a host server to have 2 or 4 CPUs and 128gb or more of RAM, while the backup appliance only has a single CPU and 32gb or 64gb of RAM. In this scenario, the backup appliance has been scoped to do its job – facilitate backups – while also allowing for mission critical servers to be brought up in a disaster scenario as possible.

The BRS appliance should be thought of as a spare tire, often referred to as a “donut tire”. It’s not meant to be driven on for 1000 miles at 65mph – it’s meant to drive up to 30 miles at no higher than 45 miles per hour – just enough to get to a mechanic who can repair or replace the damaged original tire.

In order to design a solution to meet needs, a client needs to define a formal Disaster Recovery Plan. If a client articulates the need for a full fail-over environment, we can install such as solution, either as a cold site, meaning extended time would be needed for fail-over, or hot site, meaning fail over could occur automatically should the production environment go down. Both come with a substantial additional cost, and for nearly all clients, the BRS solution provides the right amount of coverage.