Disaster recovery is an important topic to DBAs. In this interview with Dr. Vas Srinivasan, Vice President of Marketing of Sonasoft.com, makers of SonaSafe for SQL Server, you will learn about the importance of SQL Server backups and disaster recovery.
Tell us a little about Sonasoft, and what its mission is.
Sonasoft’s vision is to be the number one supplier of Backup/Recovery solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises employing Microsoft Server products. Sonasoft, Inc. revolutionized the backup and recovery process for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Servers with its groundbreaking SonaSafetm Point-Click Recoverytm solutions. Designed to simplify, automate, and eliminate human error in the backup and recovery process, SonaSafe solutions also centralize the management of multiple servers, and cost-effectively provide a turn-key disaster recovery strategy for companies of all sizes.
Can you explain some of the major potential disaster scenarios that companies that use SQL Server face today?
In business, a computer disaster equals an event that halts the normal operation of day-to-day business activities. A disastrous event can involve system malfunction, operational errors, virus attacks, acts of nature, accidents, or sabotage. The result of such a disaster is that business stops–orders cease to be placed, accounting activities freeze, data is unavailable, electronic communications halt, and the company has no access to decision-critical information. All of these events cost companies revenue and may result in unrecoverable damage.
Regardless of the cause, fast and effective recovery of customer’s SQL database environment is essential. Customers must be able to quickly implement their recovery plan–which must be tested and well-documented before problems occur.
What are the consequences of companies who do not have a disaster recovery plan in place?
Companies that do not have a proper disaster plan pay dearly through lost productivity and financial loss. As corporate data continues to grow exponentially, so too does its value. Loosing access to critical data for even an hour can cost a company millions of dollars. The Meta Group reports that the down-time cost for each company in the Energy Industry is $2.8 million/hour; in the Telecom Industry $2.0 million/hour; and for Financial Institutions, $1.4 million/hour. The National Archives & Records Administration reported that 93% of the companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more filled for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
What are the biggest mistakes DBAs and/or their companies, make when it comes to protecting their data?
The biggest mistake typically made by people are thinking that since they’re taking backups, they’re assured of recovery in case of a disaster or system crash. Based on statistical data, 30-40% of the data stored on tape can never be recovered. Also, most of the tools available today focus on backup, not on recovery. So it is imperative that DBAs give enough thought about not only on backup, but also on recovery.
Can you offer any best practices for DBAs to protect their SQL Server data?
Depending on the criticality of the databases, and the needs of a particular organization, it is always a good idea to take more frequent backups. We’ve published a couple of white papers on best practices to protect SQL Server data, and these white papers are available for download on Sonasoft’s website.
In general, how can companies protect their data? Can you explain some of the most common options, and provide the pros and cons of each?
First of all, companies have to decide how critical their data is. Organizations also have to determine their Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO).
RTO defines the tolerable maximum length of time that a business process can be unavailable, while RPO defines how much work in progress can be lost.
Also, companies have to decide whether to go for a tape backup or a disk-to-disk backup, or a combination of both. Tapes are the traditional way of doing backup, but when it comes to recovery, they’re not very reliable. Disk-to-disk backup is fast, reliable, and the data can be recovered immediately. The best approach will be to back up the data to disk regularly and archive it to tape every week, every month, or every three months based on the criticality of the data.
When a company creates a disaster recovery plan, what features should it include?
The best way to prepare for a disaster is to avoid the disaster. Therefore, look for any potential problems you can find, and correct them. You should address those issues that you can solve and which will provide benefit. Regardless of the cause, fast and effective recovery of your IT environment is essential. You must be able to quickly implement your recovery plan–which must be tested and well documented before problems occur.
Developing a disaster recovery plan for your systems in general, and databases in particular, is tedious and time consuming. If you can automate the entire process through configurable templates, then the entire process can be completed within a short period of time, saving time and resources. Also, one should focus not only on backup, but also on recovery. When a disaster occurs, it can take hours, if not days, depending on the complexity of the situation, to have all your systems and databases up and running. Users should look for applications that will help them to recover to the point of failure, or to a point in time quickly without the need to write any script or code.