Remote Office Backups
Remote office backups are usually performed by having someone at
each remote office be responsible for backing up data in that office to a local
tape drive. The challenge is that many remote office backups are not being
performed correctly or reliably since these offices have no IT staff that can
respond to the many issues that crop up when backups fail.
As a result, many companies are looking for new solutions to the
remote office backup problem.
One approach to resolving this remote office backup problem is
to have all remote office data replicated to a central office or data center
where trained IT staff can centrally manage all aspects of the backup process.
Replication systems are designed to keep files between two or
more sites up to date with each other. As changes are made at one site, the
changes are replicated to one or more additional sites. New files are replicated
in their entirety when they are first created, but when files are modified over
time, most replication products only transmit the bytes or blocks of data that
changed from one version of the file to another. Since just the changes to files
are replicated, the amount of wide-area network bandwidth consumed between sites
is minimal. This makes replication a good solution for moving data from one or
more remote offices to a primary office where it can be backed up as a part of
the nighttime backup run by trained backup IT staff.
Replication software must be installed onto each server at a
remote office and at a replication server at the central site. When a nightly or
weekend backup job starts up at the central site with the replication server as
a backup client, all of the replicated files from all remote offices are backed
up through the backup server to disk or tape.
Replication alone does not replace backup. Any accidental file
deletion or any file corruption that occurs at the remote office gets deleted or
corrupted at the central site replication server. When this occurs, a restore
from some form of backup data set must be performed. Therefore, weekend and
nightly backups of replicated data are required to maintain the history of these
Since replication products do not consume lots of WAN bandwidth,
many service providers offer remote site replication services to maintain
updated copies centrally at their data centers. Replication software moves data
from one or more customer servers across the WAN to the service provider’s data
center where it is centrally backed up.
The WAN traffic between sites during peak work hours is
typically consumed for most companies, even without replicating remote office
data to a central facility. For this reason, replication software can be
configured to perform data replication to a central site only during off-peak
times. In this case, backups should be configured to start when all data from
remote offices has been replicated to the central facility’s replication server.