First published on TECHNET on Jan 13, 2009
With the release of DPM SP1 and having an opportunity to be on the beta of the update, thought I'd share my experiences...
For those who have worked with Data Protection Mgr in the past, you probably have already experienced the concept of ongoing incremental digital backups of your servers that DPM provides.
Those new to DPM and who have relied on 'tape' for years to backup your information, DPM is a departure from fragile 50 yr old magnetic tape concepts and replaces tape with extreme high performance and flexibility provided by digital copies of data on hard drive media.
In the network environment at my organization, we have a pretty typical Microsoft Exchange, fileservers, domain controllers, SQL, and SharePoint environment as most, a total of 60 servers and 1.5TB that we backup every night. But instead of kicking off a backup to tape of all of our application servers every night (hoping that the backup finishes by the morning, and even more so hoping the 'tape' is good when we really need to recover something off of tape in the event of a disaster), we setup DPM 2007 to snapshot over 3TB of information many months ago, and now every 15 minutes, incremental updates are added to our DPM backup servers pretty much immediately. At any point, we can restore a backup that is less than 15-minutes old, or even recover a portion of a server such as a specific file, file folder, volume, or other data increment that meets our needs. And all from high speed digital indexes of the information, no need to stream a tape or build an index off tape. Data in DPM is automatically updated for us.
This is a welcome evolution in IT processes, instead of doing the same thing (tape backups) like we've done for years, to actually adopt a process that provides multi-step recovery from incremental digital copies of data. A pretty slick process that has completely changed our internal perspective on disaster recovery away from a single product like a 'tape backup' to an entire end to end strategy on disaster recovery all based on "out of the box" technologies from Microsoft.
We're using Microsoft's Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) on Exchange so that effectively we have 2 copies of our Exchange databases from Exchange with one in our primary site, and another copy in our offsite datacenter. We're using DPM to backup our 2nd (passive) copy of Exchange data so we have this 3rd copy of data on DPM. And while we were doing a tape backup of our DPM server and storing the data offsite, we just started using the Iron Mountain’s service as part of DPM SP1 where their servers do a cloud-based backup of our DPM server, so effectively our DPM server is being backed up over the Internet with data vaulted offsite with NO use of tapes anymore. This same primary/secondary data store process is being done with SharePoint and our SQL applications using SQL Mirroring, and file servers using Windows Distributed File System Replication (DFS-R).
Now, at any point, we can recover our primary server with our secondary CCR server, we can recover our primary and secondary Exchange, SharePoint, file servers, or global catalog servers from DPM, and if we lose the entire environment (both our primary and offsite datacenters), we can recover everything from the "cloud" to any datacenter anywhere.
All of our servers are running on Hyper-V for virtualization (something that the new DPM 2007 SP1 has added backup support of Hyper-V servers and running guest images), so a complete end to end disaster recovery solution from Microsoft that is the backbone of our internal IT operations.
As we have proven this works internally for our own IT operations, over the past year, we've been implementing this exact same scenario for the clients we provide consulting services for. Anything from small 50-person law firms through large Fortune 50 enterprise organizations. We've ripped out dozens of 3rd party DR products that provide small bits and pieces to their backup and recovery processes with a complete, lower cost solution based on out of the box features from Microsoft that organizations have for the most part already owned much of the licenses as part of their enterprise agreements.
In a time when organizations are looking to simplify IT, lower costs by decreasing redundant licenses and products, minimize finger pointing between competing products and technologies, and having a solution that works in this manner has been very successful at helping us and our clients to meet their business cost cutting and IT simplification initiatives.
Rand Morimoto has been in the IT industry for over 30-yrs and has written dozens of bestselling books on information technologies including Windows 2008 Unleashed, Exchange 2007 Unleashed, Microsoft Hyper-V Unleashed, Network Security for IT Professionals, and the like. Rand works with technologies 2-3 years before their release and works with organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in planning, implementing, and leveraging technologies to simplify IT operations.