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Don’t Just Back Up Data. Do It with High Availability in Mind

Authors Photo Christopher Tozzi | March 12, 2022

Do you back up your data with high availability in mind? Or do you just back it up to back it up? A backup strategy that doesn’t lead to high availability falls short of its full potential.

By now, most people know that they should back up data. More than half of them have backup routines in place.

However, simply backing up your data is not necessarily enough to achieve your goals. There is a reason why 75 percent of people who back up data are not able to restore all of it following a failure.

If your backup strategy is designed simply to back up data for backups’ own sake, rather than advancing a broader high availability agenda, you may as well not be doing backups at all.

Data backups won’t help you to avoid serious disruptions when something unexpected happens unless they’re complemented by the following considerations and strategies for achieving high availability.

Data restoration process

To minimize downtime and maximize availability during a crisis, you need to be able to restore data quickly from backups to production systems.

To do this, you must have a restoration plan in place before disaster strikes. You don’t want to wait until your business operations have been disrupted to start figuring out how you move data from backup locations to production systems.

This is why you should develop specific data restoration plans ahead of time. Although you can’t predict every variable that might be at play during a data recovery scenario, you can create general procedures that your team will follow when moving data from backups.

You can also have data migration and transformation tools preinstalled and preconfigured, if you’ll need them as part of the data restoration.

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Automated failover

Even better than having to restore data from a backup location is not having to restore it at all because your workloads automatically move from one host environment to another in the event that the first host environment fails.

This type of functionality, which is called automated failover, is delivered by solutions like Assure QuickEDD, which provides automated failover features as part of its high availability platform for IBM i systems.

Distributed data replication

Simply backing up your data somewhere is often not enough to achieve high availability. You must back it up in a way that maximizes its chances of remaining available in the event of disruption to your infrastructure.

One way to do this is to replicate your data automatically across a distributed environment of servers or storage locations. With automatic, distributed data replication, your data always exists in multiple locations at once. And because those locations are spread out – in the sense of including either multiple servers within your data center or, better, multiple data centers in different geographic locations – the data will remain intact even if some storage locations fail.

3-2-1 backup strategy

Another handy way of maximizing data availability is to follow what is known as the 3-2-1 data backup rule. According to this rule, you should:

  1. Have at least three distinct copies of your data at all times.
  2. Back up your data to at least two different types of storage (such as an on-premise server and a cloud environment).
  3. Keep at least one off-site copy of your data.

These procedures help to ensure that if one type of data storage fails, or your local storage is wiped out, your data will still be available.

The 3-2-1 backup strategy may not be necessary if you already do automatic data replication across distributed systems. But if you lack the resources for that type of solution, the 3-2-1 approach is an easy and effective way to maximize data availability.

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