An Overview of Backup and Disaster Recovery – What is a BDR?
What is Backup and Disaster Recovery?
Simply put, Backup and Disaster Recovery is what you do to ensure that your business is protected from outages and lack of availability of your business tools such as your servers and key workstations.
There are certainly other considerations, like your phones and business/office premises when you talk about backup and disaster recovery, but primarily in this article, we will discuss your servers and key workstations.
People can work from home, and you can easily forward phones to just about anywhere in the world these days if you had to if you couldn’t enter your office because of a disaster.
So, why can’t you do that with your servers and data? Well actually, you can…in a sense.
What is a BDR Appliance?
A BDR appliance is one part of your backup and disaster recovery planning.
A BDR is a server that is designed to house image based backups of your servers and key workstations.
If your server or key workstation fails, you are able to “spin up” the image copy that you made of the failed device on the BDR. What that means is you are able to actually run that server on the BDR and it is like you are on the original server.
How can a BDR help my business?
If you do suffer a server outage, or if one of your key computer workstations becomes unavailable, you will be able to run your backup copy, or image of either (or both) of those systems on the BDR appliance.
This will allow you to continue to work while you get a replacement server or to do any repairs necessary.
Once the problem has been fixed, you can sync down the changes from the backup server to the original, repaired server.
How long will I be able to run off of the BDR?
You size your BDR depending on your server resource requirements, how much RAM and CPU and how much disk space you need.
If you plan on running on your BDR while you take steps to fix or replace your failed equipment, it is a good idea to make sure that it is designed to have enough horsepower (RAM and CPU) to operate at an acceptable level of performance.
Running from the BDR should be seen as a temporary solution to recover from a disaster.
What happens if my BDR and server become unavailable at the same time?
If you should happen to have an event such as a fire or a flood that takes out both your server and your BDR, the good news is that there is still a way to operate.
The second part to a BDR appliance for your backup solution is secure, encrypted, off-site replication to a secure and compliant data center that is geographically distinct from your location.
If you should lose both your server and BDR appliance and have done your off-site replication, you will be able to “spin up” your server in the data center.
You will be able to operate just as if the server is local.
This is not instant, as you will have to take steps to make sure that you are getting the proper DNS for your connecting workstations, but certainly will be quicker than waiting for parts and downloading off-site data.
Is a BDR expensive?
This really depends on the resource requirements that your business requires and the size of your data footprint…ie; how many servers or workstations you want to backup and how much data you have.
You can normally find BDR appliances with 500 Gigabytes up to many Terabytes in size.
Your Backup and Disaster Recovery vendor should be well-versed in sizing a backup device suited to your current and expected needs in the future.
What does it cost to replicate to the datacenter?
Again, this is dependent on your data requirements and how many servers you backup.
Chances are good that not all your servers would ever go down at one time, but you should plan to have available resources to be able to handle the load if that scenario were ever to come up.
What if I already have a BDR, can I replicate it to another datacenter?
Yes you may. Ask your data center provider if they can accommodate your data backup or your image-based backup.
A couple of things to think about…is the server still under warranty, either original or extended warranty?
Is the server powerful enough to run your server should you have to spin it up during an emergency outage?
Can I use my own equipment to build my own BDR?
The good thing is yes you may do that.
However, there are a couple of things that you should consider first.
Does your server have enough RAM and CPU to handle the workload that could potentially be run on it?
Is your server still covered under the original warranty or an extended warranty?
Is my data safe in the cloud?
A good backup system will use military-grade encryption to encrypt your data, and also, your data should be sent to the data center over an encrypted Internet connection.
Check with your data center provider to be sure that they also have physical security assurance which is needed for those institutions under Sarbanes–Oxley, GLBA, HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.
You should also check that the provider uses 256-bit AES Encryption in the tunnel to the offsite location as well as the data stored at the offsite location
Check to see if your BDR provider can provide optional multiple backup targets, ensuring the highest level of data safety, integrity and availability.
I’ve already got a great online and offsite backup in place, why do I need a BDR?
An excellent question.
This is where RTO and RPO come into play.
RTO is Recovery Time Objective. How long can your business tolerate being down while you take steps to replace or repair your existing server?
RPO is Recovery Point Objective. This is the point in time that your backup is able to be restored to.
You should strive for a system that gives you the shortest RTO and the most recent RPO as possible.
For more info on RTO and RPO, please go here: What is RTO and RPO?.