Introduction to Microsoft Data Protection Manager Integration With SharePoint

* 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. *

Introduction to Microsoft Data Protection Manager Marriage with SharePoint
A proper SharePoint environment should encompass all aspects involved in a traditional networked computing infrastructure; particularly since SharePoint is or will become the chief repository for business information. One of the most overlooked aspects however of a SharePoint environment is that of disaster recovery and proper data restoration processes in case of an emergency to mitigate several levels of risks.
We don’t have a SharePoint disaster recovery plan, and aren’t really looking to spend any more additional funds on our SharePoint deployment, so would prefer to negate the requirement.
How many times has it been heard with enterprises implementing SharePoint?
SharePoint Disaster Recovery Isn’t an Option, It’s a Requirement   
Having a disaster recovery plan for your SharePoint deployment isn’t an option; it’s a necessity in order to protect precious enterprise data. Enterprises will expunge an unlimited amount of funds extending the rich functionality of SharePoint, however when it comes to actually setting up methods and procedures that are meant to enhance the security and disaster recovery of a portal, the benefits of it seem negligible.
This is one of the biggest fallacies that exist within implementing a communications and collaborations platform within a company. Not having mechanisms that facilitate recovery of your critical business data will not only cause your network and SharePoint administrators hesitation, but if any type of disaster occurs, you will only have remedial mechanisms to work with to bring line of business applications back to your information workers that need it.
There are three main things that we wish to gain out of a DPM implementation in relation to our SharePoint environment:
  1. Provide Uninterrupted and Constant Data Protection
  2. Provide Easy Mechanisms for Backup Restoration Intended for Both Users and Administrators
  3. Provide Mechanisms For Central Management For Data Protection Mechanisms
Provide Uninterrupted and Constant Data Protection  
With disk-to-tape backups, constant data protection is not possible since users are typically leveraging the portal at undetermined times and the amount of data that changes within a SharePoint portal happen at all times during the day, tapes are usually meant to run at arbitrary times within an enterprise. Exporting the data to a flat file and protecting it with DPM however a viable option is. Similarly, you can schedule the SQL backups through various clients or use the SharePoint backup utility to create scheduled backups that are stored on a file server which can then be protected with DPM.
Provide Easy Mechanisms for Backup Restoration Intended for Both Users and Administrators
DPM provides mechanisms that allow a user and administrator to easily restore backup files using a windows explorer like interface. These tools interact with the speed and reliability of using the DPM backup mechanisms, allowing backups to be granular restored depending on the permissions that you see fit.  Notifications and reports can also be sent to users that you deem are necessary to see such metrics.
Provide Mechanisms For Central Management For Data Protection Mechanisms
Interaction between DPM and Microsoft Operations Manager offer more granular control over your backup strategy and relevant servers (such as your backup file server and your DPM servers as a whole). There are inherit tools that allow you to generate DPM relevant reports, fine tune your DPM environment by examining backup metrics, and enable notifications for possible problems within your backup environment.
Assuming you are using SharePoint, it can also be assumed that you are also leveraging the Microsoft Operations Framework, which plays a pivotal functional within the management of aggregate IT assets and overall SharePoint operations.  It is important to realize the MOF is like the MSF (Microsoft Solutions Framework), in that it is an approach of best practices and approaches to your environment, and not an actual bundled piece of software. There are four main portions that exist within the Microsoft Operations Framework, optimizing, changing, supporting, and operating. In relation to the marriage of Data Protection Manager and SharePoint, we are concerned with two main quadrants of this, supporting and operating since we are concerned about supporting our line of business applications and communications and colorations environment and operating since we must provide our user with the environment which enables virtual teams so that process within the enterprises can remain optimal.
The SharePoint Backup and Restoration Process Using Data Protection Manager The DPM Backup Process 
The backup and restore process for protecting your SharePoint environment depends greatly on the data that you consider to have a low user tolerance for loss, and that which can be restored by using SharePoint media (such as SharePoint file stores). However, in an arbitrary backup process involving a backup of our SQL databases:
  1. SharePoint SQL files are exported to flat files and placed onto a protected share on the file server (support for SQL will be built in the second half of 2007)
  2. DPM will create a replica of these sources on the DPM server
  3. The changed data is sent back and forth between the file server and the DPM server
  4. DPM will also create shadow copies which allow revision control over point in time backups
This backup process will allow a user to choose which revision to restore either from the administrator or client console.
The DPM Restore Process
The restore process using Data Protection Manager can happen either from a user or as the DPM administrator.
  1. A SharePoint user or DPM administrator will choose a specified SQL backup to restore from a client tool that resembles the Windows Explorer interface
  2. DPM will restore the backup to the file server where it can be re-imported into the SQL database