What’s your preferred backup rotation scheme – do you favour a simple first in, first out approach or the incremented media system. Perhaps the devilishly complex Tower of Hanoi strategy is more your thing? If you actually have a clue what I’m talking about then there’s a good chance that at some point in your career you have been responsible for backup, probably using a tape drive or some other type of removable media.
The best backup schemes try to strike the right balance between the requirement to retain and restore data, the cost of the media and the complexity of managing it and the most popular one by far is GFS or grandfather-father-son.
There are many subtle variations on GFS but a typical scheme requires 7 daily (sons), 5 weekly (fathers) and 12 monthly (grandfathers) backups to be maintained on a rolling basis with, at very least, the monthly tapes being taken off site for secure storage. That’s the idea, at least, but for every company that pays for a man-in-a-van to take the tapes somewhere safe, there are another ten where the tapes end up in the IT manager’s car boot (you know who you are!).
So why am I talking about tape rotation methods on the Timico blog you might, not unreasonably, be thinking. Well other than my general geeky interest in this sort of thing it’s largely because I’ve spent the last few months preparing to launch our new server backup solution.
Now it’s worth saying straight off that ours is essentially a remote, disk-to-disk backup solution - quite different from a tape drive. It uses a central vault held in our data centre to manage and store the backups and just needs a light-weight software agent to sit on each server to trigger the scheduled backup jobs.
These days our type of solution is typically called ‘cloud backup’ which is a term we have consciously avoided. This is largely because ‘cloud’ has become a rather abused and misused term, seemingly applied to almost any service that can be accessed over the Internet. Plus we want to avoid the association with the huge number of online backup providers that has sprung up over the last few years claiming to offer a business grade service.
What we tend to see with so many of these new generation services is they just don’t offer the flexibility to build the kind of backup schedule and retention policy that has been standard practice with a tape drive. Now you might argue that the move away from physical media to disk based storage means that this kind of thinking is out dated and irrelevant. Whilst I can agree that we should happily do away with chore of changing tapes and taking them off-site, businesses still need a thorough, methodical approach to backup even if the tapes are now virtual.
So when it came to choosing EVault as our technology partner for backup it was very much with the GFS tape rotation scheme in mind. Yes their technology allows us to leverage all the advantages of modern online, disk based backup but it still accommodates an approach that customers have grown accustomed to relying on over many years.
So perhaps it’s time to talk to us about retiring your tape drive for a remote backup solution but rest assured that you won’t need to abandon your grandfather, father or son.