By Deanna Hoover, Senior Technical Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery System
Last weekend I was able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful snow capped mountains around where I live. The intent was an exhilarating back-country ski that would be emotionally relaxing. However, the group I was with decided to discuss a rather heavy topic. The question we were discussing was: How you would react if forced to make a life or death decision, with the life decision resulting in more physical and emotional pain than you can imagine? The specific suggestion was to consider the need to perform self amputation of a body part.
The discussion started because we had recently watched a documentary about a man who was faced with making a life or death decision during what he anticipated to be a “walk in the park”. In the end he paid a pretty hefty price. The group discussion of the day was really about how most people react when dealing with what appears to be an impossible situation. The consensus of our group was that by digging deep enough inside will we do everything possible to survive. We also agreed that we make better decisions when brainstorming with others, and we find comfort in knowing we have access to the appropriate resources and tools in time of crisis.
Yes, this blog does tie into some decisions you may encounter when planning and managing your NetWorker environment.
Let me start by giving you the example of one man who dug deep inside to save his own life after a multi-day entrapment in the bottom of a remote slot canyon in the Greater Canyonlands area of southern Utah, all alone!
You will find in this discussion how the decisions made during the time of a personal life altering situation come into play when, as a backup administrator, you must make mission critical business decisions. For examples, what tools does the administrator have in the survival kit, what are the best tools for the task at hand, does anyone else in the company realize the magnitude of the problem, and is there anyone that can be contacted for help? Plus, we should never forget that being the only one that knows the details of our plans can be detrimental.
The story: In 2003, Aron Ralston http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ralston went out for an easy day hike in Utah’s remote Blue John Canyon. Not only was he alone, but he had told no one about the details of his planned trip. All of the information on his adventure was kept solely in his head. And remember, this was a day hike so he had only planned on being out for a few hours. After a series of mishaps, and while climbing into a slot canyon, his hand became pinned between the canyon wall and an 800-pound boulder. Ralston was a well seasoned mountaineer, independent and self-sufficient, until that one unpredictable moment. Ralston desperately needed to find a way to unpin his arm or he would die in the canyon without anyone knowing his whereabouts.
Ralston’s mishaps were unpredictable and unfortunate. Given the circumstances he faced, there was no way that he could have carried all the tools he needed to walk out of the canyon unscathed. However, we must ask one question: If Ralston had decided not to go solo, but to tell others about his trip, would he have suffered the same excruciating pain that he was forced to endure over those long days?
My goal is to help you think through the future of your backup environment. Are your backup environment plans taking advantage of all the available resources, and are you leveraging others to validate your decisions? Is your data protection journey heading down the path to an unfortunate situation which may end in a disaster to the company and/or your career?
Below I will talk about how Ralston’s resources parallel those of a backup administrator. I will also provide information on a few NetWorker modules that are commonly used for data protection.
Ralston was alone and there was no cell coverage. A mobile device is something almost everyone uses and often takes for granted. In the business world Microsoft Applications are heavily used and always having access to the data created with these applications is expected. The NetWorker Module for Microsoft Applications provides data protection for Hyper-V, SQL, Active Directory and Exchange and SharePoint?
Ralston’s trip information was stored only on devices he had with him. Your company financials and other critical information required to allow your company to continue moving forward is often times stored in databases and applications such as Oracle and SAP. The NetWorker Module for Databases and Applications (NMDA) and the NetWorker Module for SAP bring value in this market. These modules support the most important cross-platform non-open source applications, in alphabetical order: DB2, Informix, Lotus, Oracle, SAP and Sybase.
Ralston was traveling light and carrying only the resources he felt necessary for short day journey. Traveling light also means making the trip a little faster and easier. What ended up being Ralston’s most important resource was a small tool used to save his life. In business we tend to take for granted those millions of small files created by printer servers, content servers, emails, CAD/CAM and the like. The NetWorker SnapImage Module takes a file system snapshot, builds a block list and then streams the data blocks as virtually one large file. This leads to successful, lightweight and quick backups.
Ralston could have benefited by having additional water and food, a redundancy of sorts. Most backup administrators will talk about disaster recovery, or at least realize they need to replicate important company assets (backups). NetWorker makes the backup replication easy. We can leverage NetWorker cloning (copying) as well as hardware snap shot technology and replication- All managed by NetWorker and available within the EMC portfolio.
Can you imagine how different the story would be if Ralston had been traveling with another competent hiker? Much, if not all, of the physical and emotional load would have been removed from Ralston. Within our data protection environments we have the powerful option of using EMC Data Domain Boost to take a load off the application and NetWorker servers.
Are you now thinking, “oh great, more modules, more money!”? You may be pleasantly surprised after looking at the capacity-based module pricing now available with EMC NetWorker. You essentially have full access to every module available within NetWorker, all at one price.
To get back to Ralston’s story, it ends in a positive note, but the outcome could have been much better. After five days and no food or water left, Ralston’s only option was to cut off the hand that was pinned under the boulder. He performed the amputation with his multipurpose tool. Raltson then hiked for a little over four hours to a helicopter rescue.
Like Ralston, as backup administrators we stand the chance of paying a higher price for not thinking through our plans and collaborating with others. With NetWorker you have all the resources required adequately protect the data and applications that are mission critical to your company.
Below you will find a list of NetWorker resources, including a site that allows you to collaborate with your NetWorker peers.
Reach out to the EMC NetWorker Community and collaborate with your colleges : www.emc.com/networkeronline
To see a complete list of NetWorker modules : http://www.emc.com/backup-and-recovery/networker/networker.htm