To quell the growing concerns over data theft, many companies have switched from physical tape backup to disk-based solutions and data vaulting whereby data is transmitted to a Disaster Recovery (DR) site over a public or private network. While this alleviates the obvious worries over physical backup tapes, it presents some considerations for DR testing.

In a peer-to-peer implementation when businesses are conducting their DR testing, they tend to break the data replication process—putting them at risk for lengthy data recovery delays and the possibility of non-compliance with regulatory guidelines. Using appropriate techniques with an electronic data vaulting implementation, replication can continue uninterrupted during DR testing and eliminate any exposure of your production site and DR site being out of synch.

Compliance will remain a serious issue for companies for the foreseeable future. Regulations and rules that increase compliance exposure for companies and demand more aggressive measures to lower risk include:

  • Government Securities Act Regulation 17
  • Sarbanes-Oxley
  • Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 11
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)
  • Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In the case of a legal discovery, where companies may be required to submit company data as evidence, it’s imperative this information be factual, timely, and compliant. If data is unavailable for several hours or days during DR testing, then companies won’t be able to produce the requested information in the time required and may put their company at further risk for non-compliance.

Is Physical Tape Storage Practical?

Businesses today realize the perils of merely storing data tapes offsite as part of their DR plan. There are simply too many opportunities for tapes to become lost, damaged, or stolen in transit or at the offsite destination. In addition, data recovery from tape is far too slow. Typically, records storage vendors guarantee they’ll be able to retrieve a tape in 24 hours of having picked it up at the customer site. That figure doesn’t factor in data restoration time.

If a disaster occurs, IT managers must spend several days locating disparate data sets across tape volumes and restoring tapes in the proper sequential order. This is an extremely laborious process that typically exceeds time-to-recovery compliance requirements. To avoid these problems, many companies have moved to peer-to-peer data vaulting for their replication and DR needs.

Peer-to-Peer Data Vaulting Advantages and Best Practices

In peer-to-peer data vaulting, data is replicated to a remote disk subsystem via a standard open system communication link. This means information from a company’s main site is scheduled to automatically replicate data to an offsite location, whether that’s daily or scheduled as needed. Co-locating company data at two separate sites lets businesses eliminate the need for tape. Restoring company data is much faster and this approach reduces the restore window from days to hours.

However, peer-to-peer replication can present some issues. For example, when a business initiates its DR testing, if it breaks the replication link between the two sites, it effectively takes the remote replication process completely offline. This link is broken for the length of the DR test, which can be days, and once re-established, can take some time to get data back in synch while the backup site catches up with the primary site. This leaves businesses vulnerable if a disaster occurs during that time or a compliance event occurs that requires immediate access to company data.

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