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How to build a data protection plan that ensures application recovery

Thor Olavsrud | July 11, 2012
The availability of services and applications to employees and customers is more critical than ever before, but many organizations still focus their data protection objectives on data and servers rather than applications.

Those problems can be solved with better planning and better communication, Davoll says. He suggests that organizations define their SLEs before negotiating their SLAs. But when services or applications go down unexpectedly, a plan for recovery that focuses on the applications is even more important.

Why Application Recovery Is Challenging

Application recovery remains a tricky process with many incremental and highly manual steps, Davoll says. He notes there are three factors that make application recovery challenging.

First, he says, not all apps are the same. Some are mission-critical while others are not as essential.

"Organizations have to be strategic about the way they go about setting their application recovery objectives," he says. "One-size-fits-all recovery simply isn't an option."

Second, infrastructure is fluid. With the combination of physical, virtual and cloud environments that is the reality for many organizations today, application assets may not be living together in the same place within the underlying infrastructure.

"Some application assets may reside on a physical server, while some may reside on a virtual machine," Davoll says. "Some assets may even reside off-premise. If you're backing up with a traditional server-centric approach, truly restoring the application now requires searching multiple backups, in multiple locations, for all of the necessary components. This can be a time-consuming process, and when it comes to application recovery, time is not your friend."

Third, most strategies require a two-step and two-person restore.

"In most cases, the backup admin needs to restore the image of the data, and from there, the application administrator needs to reconfigure the underlying application," he says. "When you're fighting against the clock to meet stringent user expectations, a two-step, two-person process is never ideal."

Application Recovery Best Practices

To ensure that your organization can get its applications up and running as rapidly as possible, Davoll suggests following these four best practices:

1. Understand user expectations. Understand the recovery time and recovery point objectives you're committed to in your SLAs, and then go a step further and talk with end-users and company leaders about their true service level expectations. Success is about perception and much as results. Make sure your stakeholders know what to expect before building your recovery strategy.

2. Develop a tiered recovery strategy. If all applications aren't the same, then the recovery of those assets shouldn't be the same either. Align your backup and recovery strategy for a given application with the criticality of that application to the business. The more critical the asset, the more quickly you need to be able to restore it.


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