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Disaster Recovery Planning

How to build a disaster recovery plan with Veeam

Here’s a true story from one of our customers. A gas explosion resulted in a major power failure downtown, which in turn left the company’s primary data center offline for a week. This is a classic example of an IT Disaster – unexpected and unpredictable, disrupting business continuity and affecting Always-On operations. We can only imagine how much it could cost that company to stay offline for a week (as much as losing their business, I’d say), if they didn’t have a reliable disaster recovery plan and an Availability solution to execute this plan.

A solid disaster recovery plan makes your company resilient to IT disruptions and able to restore your services in case of disaster with minimal to no impact on users and business operations. It’s not just making regular backups, but a complex IT infrastructure assessment and documenting (including hardware, software, networks, power and facilities), business impact analysis of applications and workloads and planning on staff, roles and risk assessment. And above all, there’s an essential testing and exercising of your disaster recovery plan. If you don’t test, how would you know that it works as expected?

Unlike physical infrastructures with all their complexity, virtualization gives more flexibility in management and processes allowing you to do more with less. For virtualized data centers, Veeam delivers joint capabilities of enabling data Availability and infrastructure management. By using Veeam Availability Suite, you cover multiple points in your DR plan at once and get:

  • Offsite replication with traffic optimization and advanced capabilities
  • Easier disaster recovery orchestration and recovery testing
  • Infrastructure assessment and documentation
  • Capacity planning and “What if” modelling
  • Backup and virtual infrastructures monitoring and reporting

These also address compliance audit needs by providing you with up-to-date information on backed-up workloads, backups reliability and actual data recovery time versus your SLAs. If staying compliant and ready for audits is important for you, I recommend you read the new white paper by Hannes Kasparick, Mastering compliance, audits and disaster recovery planning with Veeam.

Replication as a core disaster recovery technology

DR planning includes defining the lowest possible RTO to minimize the disruption of business operations. In terms of ability to restore failed operations in minutes, replication mechanism wins the game allowing you to instantly switch the failed workload to its ready-to-use “clone” to get the lowest-possible RTO. For DR purposes, standby replicas of production VMs are stored on a remote secondary site or in the cloud. Even if the production site goes down, like in my example with a major power failure, a remote site remains unaffected by the disaster and can take the load.

Test your disaster recovery plan!

All data security and management standards (ISO family is not an exception) imply DR plan testing as a mandatory exercise. You can never know if everything will work as expected in cases of real disasters until you try it and run the planned procedures in advance. DR simulation will also allow you to ensure that your personnel are well-prepared for extreme IT situations and everyone mentioned in your DR plan is aware of the activities they need to perform. If you discover any drawbacks during DR testing – either human or software-related – you’ll have a good chance to fix your DR plan accordingly and thus potentially avoid serious disruptions in your business continuity.

Automated recovery verification for backups and replica restore points built in Veeam Backup & Replication (for no additional fees!) will save you much time and additional resources for testing. SureReplica allows to boot replicated VMs (VMware only for v9) to the necessary restore point in an isolated Virtual Lab and automatically perform heartbeat, ping and application tests against them. Also, you have an option to run your own customized tests – all without any impact on your production.

Final word

Disaster recovery planning is not just another bureaucracy, but a set of measures to maintain an organization’s business continuity. Built in compliance with international regulations and standards, a DR plan gives your customers a high level of confidence in your non-stop services, data security and Availability. Veeam helps you to stay compliant with both internal and external IT regulations, be ready for audit and be able to restore any system or data in minutes.


This article was provided by our service partner : veeam.com

veeam

Best practices from Veeam support on using tape

When speaking about backup storage strategies, Veeam’s recommendation is to keep the initial backup chain short (7 – 14 points) and use general purpose disk that will allow you to recover data in the shortest amount of time. The long-term retention should come from secondary and tertiary storage, which typically boasts a much lower storage cost per TB, but at a trade-off, the RTO when restoring from such storage can take much longer time. Here’s the graphics, which illustrates this scenario:

veeam support

Additionally, with many new features of Veeam, the tape support now includes putting vSphere, Hyper-V, and Veeam Agents for Microsoft Windows and Linux backups on tape.

One of the most popular choices for backup archival is tape. It is cheap, reliable and offers protection against crypto viruses and hacker attacks. Additionally, it’s offline when not in a tape loader.

With Veeam, IT administrators can use flexible options to create copies of backups and store them on a different media, following the 3-2-1 Rule for the backup and disaster recovery. This blog post provides advice and considerations that will help you create a robust tape archival infrastructure.

How to deploy a tape library and use it with Veeam

When planning and implementing your deployment project, follow the recommendations below:

  1. It is recommended to configure the tape library for use exclusively by Veeam Backup & Replication. Using it together with any third-party tape-recording software (for example, in your evaluation lab) may prevent other software from recording.
  2. To streamline the workflow, use tapes with barcodes. Please check the integrity of the barcodes before you start using the tapes, and make sure the barcode reader is turned on. If you have multiple libraries, ensure that the barcodes are unique throughout the infrastructure.
  3. For increased capacity, use the latest LTO. Since Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3, Veeam now supports the LTO-8 format.
  4. If you plan to use encryption for archived data, consider using hardware encryption (implemented in LTO-4 and later). Software encryption can decrease performance.
  5. Do not use hardware compression with compressed Veeam backups. Double compression will not give any benefits and can even increase the size of the file on tape.
  6. Install and check the following:
  • The latest drivers for your tape library. Remember that only the original (OEM) drivers are supported. Drivers supplied with Microsoft Windows are not recommended.
  • The latest changer and controller firmware. Changers working via SCSI are supported.

You will need a tape server that will perform most data transfer tasks during archiving to tape. Check the following prerequisites:

  • This should be a physical machine or a VM connected through iSCSI, since direct pass-through is not supported.
  • Using a Windows 2008 R2 machine for a tape server is not recommended due to the possibility of performance degradation. Instead, use Windows Server 2012 or later to achieve better performance and seamless operation.
  • Best practice is to provide a direct connection from tape server to the repository to improve the performance and specify this preferred repo in tape server connections.
  • If you plan to create synthetic backups, using a deduplication storage is not recommended.

One thing to also consider is to use GFS media pools with the tape support in Veeam. This feature allows longer-term retention to be set easily for tape backups as shown in the picture below:

veeam support

If you plan to perform file-to-tape archiving for a large number of files (more than 500,000 per job), consider using any commercial edition of SQL Server for Veeam configuration database to support these operations. Configuration database stores information about all files backed up by Veeam Backup & Replication, and using SQL Server Express edition (with its 10 GB limit for a database size) may lead to significant performance degradation. If database size reaches 10 GB, all Veeam operations will stop.

To load or get the tapes from the library, use the import-export slots. If you need to perform these operations manually, remember to stop tape jobs, stop tape server, perform manual operation, start server, rescan or run inventory for the library (to recognize the uploaded tapes) and then restart the tape job.

  • If the tapes have barcodes, then you can perform the rescan.
  • If the tapes do not have barcodes, then you should perform the inventory.

What to consider before starting the upgrade

If you are upgrading your Veeam deployment, then you should first upgrade the Veeam backup server.

The tape server will be upgraded after that, using the automated steps of the Upgrade wizard that opens after the first launch of Veeam Backup & Replication console. However, you can choose to upgrade it manually by starting the Upgrade wizard at any time from the main Veeam Backup & Replication menu.

If you are upgrading your tape library, consider the following:

  1. To streamline the process and skip the catalogue step, you can add the new library to the existing media pools, and after the old library is switched off, remove it from the media pools.
  2. After connecting the new library to Veeam server, you should load the existing tapes with their barcodes to that new library and perform the rescan. Then you can switch the old library to the offline state (detach it from Veeam server) and then delete it from Veeam Backup & Replication configuration.

What to consider when planning for tape jobs

Before you start configuring Veeam jobs for tape archiving, consider the following factors:

  1. What entities will you need to archive? Will these be files and folders, or VM backups? Do you need to archive full backups only, or both full and incremental backups?
  2. What is the estimated data size?
  3. How often will you need to archive data?
  4. What will be the retention policy for your data?
  5. How often will the tapes be changed? Will they be exported?
  6. What is the tape capacity?
  7. What tape device will be used for archiving?

After these considerations, it is recommended that you double your estimated number of tapes when planning for the resources.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve talked mainly about tape infrastructure. We recognize that when setting up tape jobs, the learning curve can be quite steep. Instead of explaining all the concepts, we chose a different approach. We’ve prepared a list of settings and a well-defined result that will be achieved. You can choose to use them as they are or as a basis for your personal setup. Check out this Secondary Copy Best Practices Veeam guide for more details.


This article was provided by Veeam.com

Disaster Recovery Planning

Disaster Recovery Planning

It seems like it’s almost every day that the news reports another major company outage and as a result, the massive operational, financial and reputational consequences experienced, both short- and long-term. Widespread systemic outages first come to mind when considering disasters and threats to business and IT service continuity. But oftentimes, it’s the overlooked, “smaller” threats that regularly occur. Human error, equipment failure, power outages, malicious threats and data corruption can too bring an entire organization to a complete standstill.

It’s hard to imagine that these organizations suffering the effects of an outage don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place — they most certainly do. But, why do we hear of and experience failure so often?

Challenges with disaster recovery planning

Documenting

At the heart of any successful disaster recovery plan is comprehensive, up-to-date documentation. But with digital transformation placing more reliance on IT, environments are growing larger and more complex, with constant configuration changes. Manually capturing and documenting every facet of IT critical to business continuity is neither efficient or scalable, sending to us our first downfall.

Testing

Frequent, full-scale testing is also critical to the success of a thorough disaster recovery plan, again considering the aforementioned scale and complexity of modern environments — especially those that are multi-site. Paired with the resources required and potential end-user impact of regular testing, the disaster recovery plan’s viability is often untested.

Executing

The likelihood of a successful failover — planned or unplanned — is slim if the disaster recovery plan continues to be underinvested in, becoming out-of-date and untested quickly. Mismatched dependencies, uncaptured changes, improper processes, unverified services and applications and incorrect startup sequences are among the many difficulties when committing to a failover, whether it’s a single application or the entire data center.

Compliance

While it is the effects of an IT outage that first come to mind when considering disaster recovery, one aspect tends to be overlooked — compliance.

Disaster recovery has massive compliance implications — laws, regulations and standards set in place to ensure an organization’s responsibility to the reliability, integrity and Availability of its data. While what constitutes compliance varies from industry to industry, one thing holds true — non-compliance is not an option and brings with it significant financial and reputational risks.

 

5 Steps to a Stronger Backup Disaster Recovery Plan

Between catastrophic natural events and human error, data loss is a very real threat that no company is immune to. Businesses that experience data disaster, whether it’s due to a mistake or inclement weather, seldom recover from the event that caused the loss.

The saddest thing about the situation is that it’s possible to sidestep disaster completely, specifically when it comes to data loss. You just have to take the time to build out a solid backup disaster recovery (BDR) plan.

Things to consider when developing your BDR plan include: structural frameworks, conducting risk assessments and impact analysis, and creating policies that combine data retention requirements with regulatory and compliance needs.

If you already have a BDR plan in place (as you should), use this checklist to make sure you’ve looked at all the possible angles of a data disaster and are prepared to bounce back without missing a beat. Otherwise, these steps chart out the perfect place to start building a data recovery strategy.

 

1. Customize the Plan

Unfortunately, there’s no universal data recovery plan. As needs will vary per department, it’ll be up to you, and the decision makers on your team, to identify potential weaknesses in your current strategy, and decide on the best game plan for covering all of your bases moving forward.

2. Assign Ownership

Especially in the case of a real emergency, it’s important that everyone on your team know and understand their role within your BDR plan. Discuss the plan with your team, and keep communication open. Don’t wait until the sky turns gray to have this conversation.

3. Conduct Fire Drills

The difference between proactive and reactive plans comes down to consistent checkups. Schedule regular endpoint reviews, alert configuration and backup jobs. Test your plan’s effectiveness with simulated emergency. Find out what works, and what needs improvement, and act accordingly.

4. Centralize Documentation

You’ll appreciate having your offsite storage instructions, vendor contracts, training plans, and other important information in a centralized location. Don’t forget to keep track of frequency and maintenance of endpoint BDR! Which brings us to point 5.

5. Justify ROI

Explore your options. There are many BDR solutions available on the market. Once you’ve identified your business’ unique needs, and assembled a plan of action, do your research to find out what these solutions could do to add even more peace of mind to this effort.

Or, if you’re an employee hoping to get the green light from management to implement BDR at your company, providing documentation with metrics that justify ROI will dramatically increase your likelihood of getting decision-makers on board.

Outside of these 5 components, you should also think about your geographical location and common natural occurrences that happen there. Does it make more sense for you to store your data offsite, or would moving to the cloud yield bigger benefits?

One thing is certain: disaster could strike at any time. Come ready with a plan of action, and powerful tools that will help you avoid missing a beat when your business experiences data loss. At LabTech® by ConnectWise®, we believe in choice, and offer several different BDR solutions that natively integrate to help you mitigate threats and avoid costly mistakes.

This article was provided by our partner Labtech

 

The 10-step guide to a Disaster Recovery plan

Problem: You need a plan for responding to major and minor disasters to let your company restore IT and business operations as quickly as possible.

1. Review Your Backup Strategy

  • Full daily backups of all essential servers and data is recommended.
  • Incremental and differential backups may not be efficient during major disasters, due to search times and hassle
  • If running Microsoft Exchange or SQL servers, consider making hourly backups of transaction logs for more recent restores
  • Store at least one tape off site weekly, and store on-site tapes in a data-approved fireproof safe
  • Have a compatible backup tape drive

2. Make Lots of Lists

  • Document Business Locations
  • Addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, building management contact information
  • Include a map to the location and surrounding geographic area.
  • Equipment Lists
  • Compile an inventory listing of all network components at each business location. Include: model, manufacturer, description, serial number, and cost
  • Application List
  • Make a list of business critical applications running at each location
  • Include account numbers and any contract agreements
  • Include technical support contact information for major programs
  • Essential Vendor List
  • List of essential vendors, those who are necessary for business operations
  • Establish lines of credit with vendors incase bank funds are no longer readily available after disasters
  • Critical Customer List
  • Compile a list of customers for whom your company provides business critical services
  • Designate someone in the company to handle notifying these customers
  • Draw detailed diagrams for all networks in your organization, including LANs and WANs

3. Diagram Your Network

  • LAN Diagram: Make a diagram that corresponds to the physical layout of the office, as opposed to a logical one
  • Wireless access using Wi-Fi Protected Access security (WPA2) in order to operate in a new location

4. Go Wireless
5. Assign a Disaster Recovery Administrator

  • Assign Primary and Secondary disaster recovery administrators.· Ideally, each admin should live close to the office, and have each other’s contact information. Administrators are responsible for declaring the disaster, defining the disaster level, assessing and documenting damages, and coordinating recovery efforts. When a major disaster strikes, expect confusion, panic, and miscommunication. These uncontrollable forces interrupt efforts to keep the company up and running. By minimizing these challenges through planning with employees, efficiency increases. Assign employees into teams that carry out tasks the Disaster Recovery Administrator needs performed.

6. Assemble Teams

Damage Assessment/Notification Team

  • Collects information about initial status of damaged area, and communicates this to the appropriate members of staff and management
  • Compiles information from all areas of business including: business operations, IT, vendors, and customers

Office Space/Logistics Team

  • Assists in locating temporary office space in the event of a Level Four disaster
  • Responsible for transporting co-workers and equipment to the temporary site and are authorized to contract with moving companies and laborers as necessary

Employee Team

  • Oversees employee issues: staff scheduling, payroll functions, and staff relocation

 

 

Technology Team

  • Orders replacement equipment and restores computer systems.
  • Re-establishes connection to telephone service and internet/VPN connections

Public Relations TeamSafety and Security Team

  • Ensures safety of all employees during the recovery process.
  • Decides who will and who will not have access to any areas in the affected location.

Office Supply Team

7. Create a Disaster Recovery Website

  • A website where employees, vendors, and customers can obtain up-to-date information about the company after a disaster could be vital.· The website should be mirrored and co-hosted at two geographically separate business locations.
  • On the website, the disaster recovery team should post damage assessments for business locations, each location’s operational status, and when and where employees should report for work.
  • The site should allow for timestamped-messages to be posted by disaster recovery administrators. SSL certificates should be assigned to the website’s non-public pages.

8. Test Your Recovery Plan

  • Most IT professionals face level one or level two disasters regularly, and can quickly respond to such events. Level three and four disasters require a bit more effort. To respond to these more serious disasters, your disaster plan should be carefully organized.· Plan to assign whatever resources you do have control over in such situations. Test the plan after revisions, and discuss what worked and what didn’t.

9. Develop a Hacking Recovery Plan

  • Hacks attacks fall under the scope of disaster recovery plans.
  • Disconnect external lines. If you suspect that a hacker has compromised your network, disconnect any external WAN lines coming into the network. If the attack came from the Internet, taking down external lines will make it harder for the hacker to further compromise any machines and with luck prevent the hacker from compromising remote systems.
  • Perform a wireless sweep. Wireless networking makes it relatively simple for a hacker to set up a rogue Access Point (AP) and perform hacks from the parking lot. You can use a wireless sniffer perform a wireless sweep and locate APs in your immediate area.

10. Make the DRP a Living Document

  • · Review your disaster recovery plans at least once a year. If your company network changes frequently, you should probably create a semi-annual review. It’s best to know that an out-of-date disaster plan is almost as useless as having none.
  • WAN Diagram: Include all WAN locations and include IP addresses, model, serial numbers, and firmware revision of firewalls