As a Rule of Thumb:  Mirroring Isn’t Enough to Fully Protect Data

g-drive-external-backup-drive-storageWhen it comes to data protection, consumers have a right to ask a lot of questions.  After all, one could argue that company data is at the very heart of what makes a business run well and even function at all.  Consumers want to know that they are taking the right steps when it comes to protection of this sensitive area.  Many wonder why they must have a specific backup and recovery program when they are already mirroring.  This is an excellent question, and worthy of a thorough answer.

The problem is, an abundance of businesses believe that if they are mirroring, they are totally covered, and this is not entirely true, especially when it comes time to restore.  Mirroring is great for a lot of things, such as, providing a backup copy.  But issues arise when people believe in this tool for complete and total data protection.

Many consumers want a 3rd and transportable copy of their data to take with them on the go.  They prefer this data to be stored on portable media, that way they can restore to other data centers if they try on one that is at capacity already.  Here is where reliance upon mirroring alone for data protection can get really sticky.  Did you know that during the mirroring process, corrupt data also get mirrored?  The good news with the 3rd copy of data is that this extra copy grants a way for people to restore from an uncorrupted backup version of their data.  Hopefully, this sheds light on why sole dependence upon mirroring is not good enough when it comes to really keeping your data completely protected.  But, in the event that you are not yet convinced, or you feel your questions have not been answered, let’s discuss a few more examples below.

During the horrific events of Hurricane Katrina, many people were displaced and their lives were changed forever.  There wasn’t one square inch of the region that wasn’t affected in one way or another, and this includes data centers.  Take for example, the business located in New Orleans, LA, which housed their main site at this location, while establishing their mirrored site in Mobile, AL.  Though close in distance, at least they were housed in different states, right?  Wrong.  This was not good enough, since Katrina affected both areas.  Can you guess what happened?  If you guessed that both sites were lost because of the hurricane, you guessed right.  This is a perfect example as to why business cannot rely on mirroring alone.  Though standards have changed, and best practices insist that companies house mirrored sites east of their main sites, mistakes still happen.  People get lazy.  Things go wrong.  And when they do?  Data is lost forever and costs can break the bank.

Maybe you are convinced now that reliance upon mirroring for complete data protection is wrong, but here is one more example to drive this point home.  Back in 2011, Google was doing some routine maintenance on their Gmail sites, and accidentally lost an excess of 100,000 accounts.  Guess what Google heavily depended on at the time?  You guessed it right…mirroring.  The issue here is that the accident happened to all sites-including the mirrored ones.  Talk about bad luck!  In the end, none of the over 100,000 accounts could be recovered, and were ultimately gone for good.  Imagine the heartbreak for those that could not get back their valuable accounts!  Though it may have been a small loss for Google, those affected likely did not consider it to be so.  So what is the take-away from all of these examples?  It’s simple really…companies, no matter how big or small, should not, and MUST not rely upon mirroring for sole and complete data protection.  As you can see from the examples within this article, it is not a risk that is worth taking!  Wouldn’t you agree?

Mirroring is good at many things, and here is a great example of one thing mirroring does well.  This tool offers an excellent way to continue various operations within a business.  However, it is not right to ask a function to do more than it has been created to do, and one important thing mirroring cannot do is recreate historical data.  Because of this fact, the task is placed into the hands of a human application programmer, who, because he or she is human, is capable of making mistakes.  Businesses also need to remember the cost associated with mirroring.  It is not cheap!  Because of this, companies might want to consider using the tool of mirroring simply for the key storage groups in order to cut down on expenses.  The other, not as vital groups of storage could be backed up instead of also mirrored, as well.

Hopefully the simple but vital point that mirroring alone does not offer sufficient data protection has been driven home to those reading.  In closing, to ensure that companies have a good system of protection, mirroring ought to go beside a proper backup and recovery program so that business can rest easy and be confident that they are implementing what it takes to have complete data protection.  The importance of not relying solely upon mirroring is especially vital in relation to companies that have mainframe environments such as large banks, and insurance and government agencies.  These spheres contain extremely sensitive data, and so, their assurance of complete protection of their data is very important.  Loss within these sensitive environments could be catastrophic.

So, the question is:  what factors constitute a good backup and recovery program?  Below you will see some essential points to bear in mind when considering a plan.

  1. Point-in-time products that replicate data must be set to perform automatically.
  2. Historical backup versions should be created in many versions, granting the ability to restore anytime and without corruption.
  3. Obtain a portable backup copy of data that can be utilized on-the-go.
  4. Provide recovery granularity.  This will allow restores to happen from many different places.

Guest article written by: Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software’s Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.  Learn more about Rocket Servergraph.

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