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Know Before You Go (Down): Will You Be Able to Get Back Up?

by on March 29, 2011

An InfoWorld webcast I saw recently that focused on “Tape’s Evolving Data Storage Role” presented a lot of valid points. The session’s overall premise is that as the volume of data continues to explode, and the length of data retention grows, so too does our need for innovative storage solutions that combine disk, tape and cloud. The speakers go on to extol the virtues of tape, particularly its efficiency as a long-term storage medium and its portability.

Tape-vault_management
The session also poses a very valid and challenging question that many businesses are asking today:

Given that we’re retaining data on tape longer than ever before, will we be able to restore from these tapes in the face of a disaster?

My advice: Don’t wait until this question is no longer a hypothetical to answer it. You need to know whether your business will be able to restore from tape before you’re faced with the reality of doing so.

As the speakers in the webcast state, ensuring that you’ll be able to restore from long-held tapes is partly about the media. They correctly advise setting up test procedures and following manufacturer best practices to verify that your tapes will allow you to recover effectively from your data loss. At the same time, these experts also convey that it’s about more than making sure the media itself will work—you also need the software, processes and procedures working in a way that allows you to functionally restore to the point in time of failure. In other words, you need a comprehensive plan that looks at disaster recovery as a business process, not just a technical function.

I’d like to add another critical part of the answer to the question of “will we or won’t we be able to restore?”: having a tape management solution that stores, moves, tracks and protects the media in your enterprise. Such a solution can help you locate a tape immediately for disaster recovery. It can guard against storing outdated, incorrect or damaged media and prevent accidental or premature overwrites. In short, it can go a long way toward ensuring that your business will, indeed, be able to restore from your long-term media.

If your DR strategy doesn’t include an answer to this important question, it should. Working through what this question means for your business isn’t simple—but it’s much simpler than waiting until the moment of crisis to ensure that your business can answer “yes.”

What about your organization? Do you have a DR plan? What is some good advice you’ve received regarding creating a disaster recovery plan?

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