* This article was written in the context of System Center Data Protection Manager 2006 (SCDPM), a technology now considered deprecated with the introduction of System Center Data Protection Manager 2007. Variations may exist. *
Integrating Data Protection Manager into Your Current Backup Strategy
Microsoft Data Protection Manager does not replace normal backup strategies using tape media for off-site storage backup; this is still a necessary step for appropriate portal data protection. This is for several reasons, however the most clear is that if something does happen at the local data center, such as a natural disaster or corporate espionage, it is still possible to restore normal data operations. It is possible to use disk drives for off-site storage, however they are obviously sensitive to external elements and would be extremely arduous to attach and detach to devices in order to transfer information. Tapes can store similar quantities of data, however are much better mechanisms for the removal and transportation of the media.
Typical Disaster Recovery Specific Hardware
Typically within a legacy backup strategy, data is pulled from a file server that houses manually moved backed up files. Tapes are typically governed by an arm winch (this can also be known by other names), that can automatically pick and relate backups using firmware built on simple selection algorithms to appropriately choose tapes on a defined backup schedule.
Winch and Machine — > | | —–|= |=====| < — Tape Drives
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An arm winch isn’t a necessity for smaller environments, since they can often be fairly expensive for smaller businesses (unless purchased used), and sometimes the amount of data being backed up doesn’t necessitate the need for winches since it can easily be handled manually be a network administrator or similar employee. Plan your DR hardware accordingly, and don’t overdue it. Minus the cost up front for the arm winch hardware, take into account maintenance of the tapes themselves (from buying new tapes as others become antiquated to buying more as you gain more data and more are retired off-site), to tape deportation and re-importation (a job of the network / SharePoint administrator), to maintaining the actually tape system itself, along with several other actions.
Why DPM Doesn’t Replace Tape Backups
Tape backups are the first step for a proper disaster recovery plan and DPM doesn’t replace a tape backup strategy. Rather, DPM is an intervention of within a DR process, a placeholder between your tape backups to streamline the process and make it easier for an organization to facilitate agile backups of your environment as they occur. DPM integrates into existing disaster recovery processes by providing an extra layer of disaster recovery functionality.
Three Methods of DPM Integration
DPM integrates in a variety of fashions, however the three most typical are:
- Parallel Program Instantiation (PPI)
- Virgin Program Adoption (VPA)
- Interchangeable Program Exchange (IPA)
Parallel Program Instantiation
Parallel Program Instantiation (PPI) is a common method of implementing DR solutions because it allows an eventual merging of a DR solution within an environment without a complete drop of a legacy DR solution. It is similar to upgrading arbitrary line of business applications; typically a staging environment is set for the upgrade before it is applied to an actual production environment. For example, when migrating your SharePoint environment from a 2003 instance to SharePoint 2007 (MOSS, currently in beta as of the writing of this article due for a technical refresh in approximately two weeks) it would be atypical and ill-advised to just run an upgrade against your environment since there are a variety of factors that exist which might impact this type of upgrade. Typically, there should be a staged environment that would allow granular conclusions about an upgrade that will mimic the eventual production environment.
Virgin Program Adoption
Virgin Program Adoption (VPA) is a common method for organizations that are just starting out with a disaster recovery policy, or have a malformed disaster recovery system currently. As the name implies, the current enterprise network is not currently implementing a disaster recovery system, and there is an introduction of disaster recovery practices. This is one of the easiest DPM implementations because there are no expectations involved and there is no necessity of integration with legacy DR implementations.
Interchangeable Program Exchange
Interchangeable Program Exchange (IPE) is a method when the former disaster recovery solution is so malformed that it is considered nearly non-existent, or not only doesn’t offer benefits, but can be considered detrimental to normal business operations. IPE means that there is no staging environment because the mitigation of risks typically involved in PPI aren’t a large concern, and therefore a direct solution replacement will not cause operational interruptions.
As you can see, there are a variety of implementations that are possible depending on your current network configuration and how you wish to approach an implementation of a DR policy. Sometimes, it will require a mixture of two approaches, or for you to define your own process as you see fit towards corporate DR goals.