Data Domain is at it again: they have made another plea to please, please (please!) think of them as an enterprise solution. And boy are they ready to do disaster recovery. Honest.
Except that what they call disaster recovery, well, isn't.
Not by a long shot.
Now I am not sure if I care if they don't get it. Bummer for them, but ultimately, so what?
Well the so what in this case is I think they are unfairly dumbing down the collective discussion on backup and disaster recovery. In other words, they can make whatever claims they want, but when they attempt to redefine common understandings of backup and recovery and disaster recovery, in such a way that these terms mean less than they did before, they are doing themselves and the market a huge disservice.
Not that I am terribly surprised. When all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.
So when Mr. Budianski claims in this post that the Data Domain Replicator is a disaster recovery solution, I have to say I don't agree. Specifically, his claim is that: "Time-to-DR ... is the period of time measured from the start of the first job in the backup window to the completion of replication for all jobs. The high-level steps that make up the process measured by the time-to-DR metric are:
- Full backup
- Data consistent and readable from replica"
In other words, you have disaster recovery when you have finished replicating your backup data.
But that isn't remotely close to what disaster recovery is.
And there is no need to take my word for it. The SNIA definition of disaster recovery is: "The recovery of data, access to data and associated processing through a comprehensive process of setting up a redundant site (equipment and work space) with recovery of operational data to continue business operations after a loss of use of all or part of a data center... This involves not only an essential set of data but also an essential set of all the hardware and software to continue processing of that data and business. Any disaster recovery may involve some amount of down time."
So the essence here is that disaster recovery involves the recovery of operational data. Not backup data. And I need the essential hardware and software and processes to continue running the business.
Replicating your backup data may be an important first step in the recovery of operational data. But it is in no way shape or form equivalent to the recovery of operational data.
And this is a really important distinction. Because honestly any architect, or system admin, or IT person who tells their CIO or CFO or board that because they have replicated their backup data they "have" disaster recovery probably should start to work hard on their resume. Harder than they did on understanding disaster recovery.
Because disaster recovery means I can get my business (and the applications that power it) running again. Replicating backups doesn't do that.
What else do I need?
I need hardware. I need software. (Those may both seem obvious, but do you have a documented and tested process to identify what licenses you need, and make sure the license keys are available at the recovery site?) I need a backup server with which to initiate restores. I need a backup server catalog or database so that when I reference my replicated backup data set I know what is there. How are you replicating this catalog? Or do you have to restore it? What process is there for rebuilding the backup environment so that you can begin to restore data? Has your backup administrator documented this process, and made this documentation available and accessible to others? Where am I going to restore data to? And how am I going to restore application server binaries and settings? And so on, and so forth.
Now I am no disaster recovery guru. There are people that devote their careers to that. But I would bet that many of them would be as insulted as I was by the notion that replicated backups are equivalent to disaster recovery.
And the issue is ultimately this: by labeling backup replication "disaster recovery" you are doing a disservice to your business. Because if that is all you are doing, you don't have "disaster recovery".
And by attempting to pass off backup replication as disaster recovery, Data Domain is doing a disservice to us all by unjustifiably shrinking the scope and meaning of disaster recovery.
If everybody bought into this truncated notion of disaster recovery, nobody would actually be able to recover their business after a disaster. And that strikes me as a little senseless. Just like Data Domain's position.
PS: I was going to take exception to the notion that Data Domain is "enterprise ready", but I didn't. Because "enterprise ready" is pretty subjective. And who am I to say that their point product doesn't meet whatever subjective definition somebody might have for "enterprise ready." Having said that, is Xyratex disk enterprise ready? Who? Xyratex, of course! Is their storage 99.999% available like Clariion? Who knows, but they must be "enterprise ready," Right? ... Right?