Your Backups Suck

There, we said it. You don’t take backups seriously enough. Frankly, most people don’t think about backups until they need a restore and no one thinks about restores until one fails, which is the worst time to think, “we should have invested in backup infrastructure.”

The Zurka Infrastructure Design Team (IDT) has several examples of what can happen if backups aren’t properly structured and/or managed:

  1. A member of the Zurka IDT was called to redesign a company’s backup infrastructure after neglected backups prevented a restore of business-critical data which caused a ¼ point drop in stock prices. Imagine that. Backups had been neglected for so long but no one cared until the stock prices of the company dropped.
  2. The same member of the team was called to a government agency where critical data was being backed up only once a month. The environment’s data set had grown so much that backups ran 24/7 and individual data sets could only get resources once a month.
  3. At another agency, its critical data had not been backed up for six months due to a string of errors that application owners and a novice backup admin did not understand.
  4. Still another agency backed up the same ten-terabyte dataset ten times a day using four policies that no one verified. This cost the company thousands a year in storage, backup tapes, as well as all the labor costs associated with the level of work with this kind of mistake.

The common element in all those stories, beside them being true of course, is that the management of these organizations had little to no knowledge of the problem until it was well beyond a small solution. On the bright side those were all problems that got solved and in most of those cases all sorts of other issues were addressed at the same time.

So where do you go from here? The first step could be as simple as asking your team three questions:

  • Is there a written, up-to-date backup strategy that, at a minimum, documents the who, what, where, when and how of your backups, restoration and disaster recovery.
  • When is the last time the backups had a comprehensive test? Ideally you’d have those who are going to need the backups restored involved in defining the testing requirements.
  • What needs to change to handle the future needs of the organization? After all, not only is the IT infrastructure critical to every organization, it is also evolving at a record pace. Backups need to evolve right along with them.

Taking that first step will give you a better handle on the situation and make everything seem less daunting. And of course, Zurka is here to help with a health check of your backup environment, strategy, design, implementation, and training. We’ve been described as oddly passionate about backups, and we take that as a compliment.