The Changing World of Data Backup and Recovery
It was not long ago that the de facto backup technology used in the legal industry was tape. With the advent of big data and super-sized email boxes, many law firms made the leap from tape to disk-based backup systems such as EVault, a Seagate company. While cutting data to disk improved transfer speeds and shortened backup windows, the challenge of a quick recovery continued to persist. Examples of disasters such as the Crypto Locker Virus can quickly infect and encrypt large data volumes, and it can take hours or days to restore mass amounts of information as billable attorneys can do nothing more than wait for restoration jobs to complete while being locked out of critical electronic information. As legal IT professionals, we must constantly search for better ways to protect the business of law and improve upon the proverbial day-old bread backup methods. Enter Dell AppAssure. Founded in 2006 and acquired by Dell in February of 2012 to complement their growing software portfolio, AppAssure allows firms to better protect and quickly recover big data and application server information such as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server in near real time.
So, how do they do it? No, it’s not smoke and mirrors but, when you watch the software in action, you might be thinking that. It’s simple really. The AppAssure software leverages Microsoft’s built-in VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service), permitting the software to take continuous snapshots in near real time, up to every 5 minutes, and retain them for almost an infinite retention period. When a recovery event occurs, AppAssure employs an intelligent restoration by quickly establishing a mount point and restoring the metadata first, (that is the drive share, directory structure and file names only). Within the first minute of starting the job users can view, browse and search the data to locate the information they would like to access, AppAssure calls this live recovery. Perhaps the best feature is that, from the user’s point of view, it seems that 100% of the data has been fully restored and is accessible to them for immediate access. When someone clicks to open a file, a filter driver, running on the AppAssure Core, fields the request and prioritizes the restoration of the requested data on demand, while the remainder of the restoration continues on as a background process. This smart recovery method eliminates the headache of sequestering users from critical information until large restoration jobs complete.
Founded as an application recovery software company, the same principals are employed when recovering a SQL database or Exchange server. Databases can quickly be recovered to the original host, a new virtual host (on any hypervisor platform), or to dissimilar hardware using rapid bare metal recovery methods. With AppAssure all data backups are validated using their recovery assurance process, which guarantees that the data will be mountable and corruption free when called upon. Finally, the deployment of AppAssure puts full disaster recovery within reach of mid-size and boutique law firm budgets. Using the continuous snapshots, AppAssure can be configured to hydrate stand-by virtual clone servers, which can be spun-up on demand, in order to implement a robust business continuity plan at a second datacenter or remote office location. AppAssure is licensed either by physical server or by the virtual host, and includes the ability to backup and protect Microsoft and Linux systems. If you are interested in learning more about Dell AppAssure or how this new and mature backup technology can better protect your firm, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a live demonstration.