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Protecting Data Requires More Than Simply Mirroring

Published on 05 August 16

A commonly asked question regarding data protection is why mirroring alone is not sufficient. Deeper yet, people wonder why they need both a backup and recovery program in line if they are already mirroring. These are fair enough questions, worthy of proper time and attention, and because they keep coming up, it makes sense that they be addressed in a clear and thorough manner. There are many assumptions when it comes to mirroring, one of which is that the complete backup copy procured by mirroring is good enough. This assumption makes sense, but what many don't understand is that the restore process is where things get sticky.

Interestingly enough, many individuals actually want a 3rd portable copy of their backup data that they can take with them on the go. When mirroring takes place however, everything is mirrored, and that includes corrupt data as well! This explains the sticky situation mentioned above. The good news is that by creating this 3rd copy, clients are able to restore from a version of the backup that was created before their data became corrupt. The fact that corrupt data can get mirrored is one of the reasons why it is extremely important not to rely upon mirroring alone for sufficient data protection. Below are some more examples as to why you must rely on more than simply mirroring to ensure the safety of your data.

One of the most poignant examples of our time centers around the great disaster of Hurricane Katrina. During this catastrophe, a company who relied heavily upon mirroring was completely wiped out by the storm. The location of where they mirrored their data was wiped out also. And guess what? All data saved and generated by this company from that day forward was gone forever. How devastating! Best practices insist that all mirrored sites be placed east of the home site. This standard was conceived in California, as a result of the San Andres Fault line, and the very real possibility of disaster in the area. As a result, this best practice is the standard for all business, and those that fail to follow through on this are setting themselves up for a massive data disaster. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry with respect to protecting your data!

You likely don't need more convincing after the above example, but just in case you aren't yet sold, here is another heartbreaking example as to why mirroring alone does not offer the kind of complete protection most people need and want. It all started with Google in 2011. During this time, an employee was carrying out some routine maintenance on the Gmail site and accidentally trashed more than 100,000 accounts. Talk about a giant mistake! Why this accident was so detrimental is because Google depends very heavily upon the act of mirroring for backup. Well, guess what? The accident deleted not only the main sites, but the mirrored ones as well. The worst part was that none of the accounts that were lost could be recovered. To add insult to injury, Google apologized, but also made the point that for them, this loss was minor because it had only hit a small portion of their overall accounts. Maybe for Google this was not a huge deal, but imagine how frustrating this was for the people who lost pictures and all other digital content for good? Now days, digital content is they main way people communicate, create, and savor moments. Loss of this kind of data is the loss of a lifetime of memories.

This is where we must acknowledge an important moral: mirroring alone is not enough to keep your data safe and well-kept! This simple act by itself cannot be leaned upon to do more than what it was originally intended to do. Mirroring is good, and serves a very specific purpose, but many individuals expect it to do much more for them than they should. Hopefully, the above examples show just how much of a gamble clients take when they rely upon mirroring alone for data protection.

To make things clear, here is where mirroring works wonders: when it comes time to carry out continuous business operations. This is where mirroring shines, because ultimately, that is the sphere for which it was designed. It is not appropriate to expect more from the process of mirroring. Take for example, the fact that mirroring cannot recreate historical data. Recreating data is a task that must be placed on the the application programmer. This is not a perfect science though, as the programmer is human and thereby prone to error. Another reason why reliance upon mirroring is not wise is because it is quite expensive. Companies need to consider this to help out their budget, and reserve mirroring for only key storage groups. This will ultimately save them money and help them to prioritize the more critical and time-sensitive storage groups.

In summary, the moral of this proverbial story is that mirroring simply won't cut it when it comes time to ensuring complete data protection. In fact, in order for this function to be used appropriately, it must be paired with a backup and recovery program. This way, comprehensive protection is guaranteed. The businesses that must take extra care to cover all of their protection bases are those with mainframe environments. These spheres hold the most sensitive data for banks, insurance agencies, and government branches. If data is lost or compromised within these spheres, the consequences are significant.

Here are some pointers that will ensure you are making the most of your backup and recovery program:

1. Products that replicate data in a point-in-time manner must be set to run automatically.

2. There should be various copies of backup created. This way, clients can be assured of corruption-free data during a restore.

3. Create a 3rd backup copy that you can utilize while on the go.

4. Make a way for recovery granularity. This will result in restores that can take place in a variety of locations.

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