Four tips for optimizing continuous data protection

San Francisco-based Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin found that moving away from tape toward continuous data protection let it cut costs and provide more reliable backup and recovery. Here are some lessons the law firm learned along the way:

— Bulk up your storage at the disaster-recovery site. The primary cost factor in moving to CDP is increased disk storage, says Matthew Reynolds, Howard Rice’s CIO. “We’re at around 12TB of data right now in the data center, and by the time we’re done with [disaster recovery], our target site will be at about 20TB to 22TB,” he says, explaining that he still uses tape in some cases for compliance, but disks increasingly are being used in place of tapes for long-term storage. “That certainly is a lot of disk space. But drive space is inexpensive, and when you look at no handling of backup tapes, the cost is worth it,” he says.

— Don’t skimp on bandwidth. Howard Rice initially relied on a T-1 line to support bidirectional replication between its data center and disaster-recovery site, but bandwidth problems soon made it necessary to upgrade to a 10Mbps pipe. “You need sufficient bandwidth so you need fairly large circuits,” Reynolds says. “That was a surprise to us.”

— Keep support in-house. Howard Rice has assigned one full-time engineer to support and maintain the InMage Systems appliances, as well as to make sure data is backed up completely and can be recovered. “This is not a technology that you want to bring in-house and then outsource the support,” Reynolds says. “Because priorities change within the company in terms of business systems, and whenever the host environment changes, obviously that’s going to impact your disaster-recovery site. While in an optimal world, it’s transparent, you still need to monitor it and manage it,” he says.

— Don’t fear the unknown. Even though InMage had few customers at the time he was evaluating CDP vendors, Reynolds says he did his due diligence, grilled the one customer he knew about and tested DR-Scout fully. Now it’s clear InMage was the best choice for Howard Rice. “Don’t be afraid of these smaller vendors. Sometimes they just work,” he says.

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