Andrew Mallaband – August 2023
If your organisation experiences unplanned events such as infrastructure failures, poorly executed changes or god forbid is the victim of a ransomware attack, ensuring they can recover their most recent data is critical to prevent business disruption, reputational damage, non compliance with policies & regulation, all of which can have financial consequences. In order to mitigate risk it is imperative that you have fail proof processes in place to detect and recover from back up failures.
Today many enterprises have complex backup environments, These might employ multiple vendors backup solutions and multiple domains of a single vendors backup solution. In these situations the job of detecting and recovering from backup failures becomes more much labour intensive and error prone.
Relying on people alone to manage the process is not a fail safe approach. In these situations augmenting backup teams with software that streamlines the process of detecting, diagnosing and remediating backup failures can reduce business risk while increasing the productivity of backup teams. Before digging into how this can be achieved lets 1st explore some of the challenges that backup teams encounter.
Backup failure detection and response is a critical task for IT teams. However, there are a number of challenges that can make this task difficult.
1. Lack of a single vantage point – In multi-domain and multi-vendor backup environments, backup teams often have no single vantage point that brings together all of the relevant context for backup failures. This means that team members have to access multiple consoles and tools in their daily work, to review backup logs, check the status of backup jobs, perform diagnostic tests, and remediate issues that they find. This is not only labor-intensive, it also increases the possibility that critical failures get overlooked.
2. Lack of visibility into criticality – In addition to understanding the events that led to a failure, it is also important to understand the criticality of the affected applications. This information is not always immediately obvious in backup vendors’ consoles, and as a consequence, important failures are not flagged with the level of priority that is required.
3. Lack of insights into root causes – Backup failures are often caused by incidents or changes in applications and IT infrastructure. These incidents and changes are often outside the control of backup teams, but they can have a significant impact on the success of backups. Having insights into these failures is critical so that backup teams can effectively triage these problems with other support teams.
4. Limited automation capabilities – Once the work has been done and teams understand the root cause of problems, backup teams may have limited automation capabilities in place to handle the resolution steps. Even if the backup team has sought to address this challenge, the solutions that are typically employed involve custom scripting, which comes at an expense to implement, maintain, and support over time.
5. Lack of skills and knowledge – The knowledge and skills required to diagnose and resolve backup failures are often only possessed by highly trained backup engineers with specific backup solution knowledge. This results in higher operational costs as other members of backup teams and first- and second-line support staff, who do not possess these skills, are often unable to assist with the process.
6. Compliance and reporting requirements – With the increasing focus in IT on treating internal departments as customers and the backdrop of regulations, backup teams are increasingly being asked to provide reports to demonstrate that they are meeting service level objectives and compliant with policies and procedures. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, as it often involves ongoing custom development.
The custom development required to meet compliance and reporting requirements can be costly for several reasons. First, it requires specialized skills that may not be available in-house. Second, it can be difficult to manage and maintain custom code over time. Third, it can be difficult to keep up with the evolving compliance and reporting requirements.
The time-consuming nature of compliance and reporting requirements can also be a challenge for backup teams. This is because it can take a significant amount of time to gather the data, create the reports, and distribute them to the appropriate stakeholders. This can also lead to delays in resolving backup failures, which can have a negative impact on business operations.
Backup Failure & Detection & Reporting solutions provide off the shelf capabilities to address the challenges previously highlighted.
Single Pane Of Glass – Whether you use multiple vendors back up products or multiple instances of a single vendors product BFDR solutions brings these together in a single unified view. This incorporates all of the data from back up tools and 3rd party systems so that teams that manage back up failures have all of the context available at their finger tips to prioritise, diagnosis and remediate problems through a single interface. This includes the context required to highlight the criticality of individual workloads and any SLAs, events (incidents and changes) in other domains that impact backups.
Orchestration & Automation – BFDR solutions provides the orchestration workflow and automation capabilities that enables repetitive tasks associated with problem diagnosis & remediation to be consistently executed in software. These can be operator initiated or fully automated in response to specific failure scenarios.
Knowledge – BFDR solutions incorporate a knowledge base that is accessible through a chatbot experience. This enables teams that manage back-up failures to leverage vendors specific knowledge or knowledge related to previous incidents to aid support staff in the process of detecting, diagnosing, and remediating backup failures.
Reporting– BFDR solutions represents the environments in a single unified data model that provides a common abstraction that simplifies the process of reporting across multiple vendors back up solutions and multi-domain environments. Reporting includes predefined templates, user configurable reporting along with a Rest API so that the data represented in the system can also be fed into any 3rd party reporting tools.
Organisations that adopt BFDR solutions typically realise the following benefits that result in less business risk and lower operational costs;
1. Fewer back up failures go undetected.
2. Incident management for back up failures is prioritised based on the criticality of applications.
3. Reduction in the man hours & skills sets required to manage back up failures.
4. Reduction in the time service managers & executives spend dealing with the fall out of backup failures.
5. The best staff can be freed up so they can perform more productive work and 1st & 2nd line support staff can take onboard more of the process.
6. The need for to custom development for automation and reporting is eliminated.
7. Vendor management processes can be improved as backup vendors can be measured and held accountable for their performance overtime.
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