Remote Backups

Posted on 2006-03-31
Last Modified: 2011-04-14
We are a rural health clininc and we belong to an association of about 60 other clinics. I was asked if it was possible for us to provide off-site storage/backup for the other members. I don't know how much data we would be expected to store yet.

What would a typical hardware configuration be for this?  How much bandwidth would typically be needed for internet transfers? What would be needed to make it HIPPA compliant? I'm sure there are plenty of other concerns that I am overlooking.

Are there any good resources on the internet that cover this?
Question by:comtekso
    LVL 3

    Assisted Solution

    Outsource it and share the costs or pass them on to whoever wants you to provide the service.

    Imagine the costs of maintenance, bandwidth, security, personnel, etc.  If you're in the medical business, small and rural, it's likely cost-prohibitive to implement a data warehouse solution.

    It's much easier to manage a service than it is to manage a server.  

    p.s. I just found these companies through a google search "outsource our backup".

    Hope that helps.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Also, think about this...what if somebody physically broke into your business and had access to all that privacy information?  Hackers and distraught employees can do the same.

    Author Comment

    You have some very good points which I will bring up to the powers that be, but just so I have my bases covered, do you know of any remote backup software that will do Bit level backups?
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    I might have a solution, this is similar to another project I completed.

    I need more information to really understand this.

    Are you asking how you (I) can provide offsite backups for the 60 members (clinics)?

    Do you already have a high-speed connection to the internet?

    Do you have a datacenter, with space, backup power, etc?

    Are you assuming any additional risk or liability for the other 60 members? Assuming that the members are fairly close, so if a disaster strikes, ie Tornado, Hurricane, Tsunami (if you live in Oregon like me :) ) it is possible that you would have the same problems, or not be able to service those clients to get their data restored. Usually the first thing to go in a disaster areas is electricity and communications....


    Author Comment

    Yes, I am asking how I can provide offsite backups for the members.

    We currently have a T1, but I am sure we would need much more than that.

    We have the space, but not the equipment. We will also have a backup generator soon.

    Yes, we would be assuming liability.
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    We've just finished a trial of Backup Exec 10d Continuous Protection Server for centralsing our branch back-ups.  It works well so I bought the licenses.

    Let me first explain our previous set-up:
    53 remote branches on dedicated WAN links ranging from 64kbps to 2mbps, and with a local data size of anything between 1GB and 35GB.  The remote branches predominantly had DLT drives and BE9.1.  We were finding the back-ups to be increasingly unreliable, and fingered the DLT's as the culperates since the handfule of branches with LTO2 drives were reliable.
    Rather than replace all the DLT's at great expense, I wanted an option to centralise the back-ups, thus removing the need for the non-IT staff in the branches to be involved (which inevitably leads to tapes not being changed etc).

    The 3 products I tested were Micorsoft Data Protection Manager (DPM), Veritas Replicate Exec and Veritas Backup Exec Continuous Protection Server (CPS).

    DPM was ruled out quickly due to its reliance on QOS to invoke bandwidth throttling - since many of our telecomms infrastructure aren't QOS compliant, it simply doesn't work - we can't tolerate 100% of the link being utilised for backup processes.
    RE and CPS are incredibly similar and both work very well.  RE supports replication of databases such as SQL or Exchange, whereas CPS does not.  Similarly, CPS supports system state backup (if BE remote agent is installed) whereas RE does not.  RE is about 5 times more expensive that CPS.

    For us, CPS fitted the bill better since we're only talking about file and print servers - ie no databases.  We also weren't concerned with system state back-ups so we avoid the addidtional cost of BE remote agents, instead we only deployed the CP agents.  The CPS console also offers much better monitoring of jobs than the RE console in my opinion, and CPS support VSS snapshotting if you have the drve space, and restores are done directly within the CPS console.

    Our new set-up is thus:
    A central server with sufficient disk to accomodate all the remote branch data (in our case an approximate 250GB so we spec'd 400GB capacity to be sure.  This central server has the full CPS console etc installed.  Ordinarily, BE 10d would also be installed here for it to back-up to tape.  However, our central datacentre uses Veritas NetBackup and thus we installed the NetBackup client instead.
    Each of the 53 remote sites then had the CP agent installed.  Since we aren't using the system state back-up we don't need the remote agent for backup exec - thus we did not need to upgrade BE9.1 to 10d at each site first.  This is important for 2 reasons: 1) it saves some reboots and 2) it allows us to continue with the DLT back-up whilst the initial replication is underway.

    Iniitial replication takes around 3 days for our data on our links - obviously your experience would differ.  Once this initial repication is complete, however, the replication continues as a file block level in real time.  That means that as a file is updated in the remote site, the updated file blocks (only) are replicated back to the central server.  This includes notorious files like PST's - add a single mail to a PST, and CPS replicates that single mail - brilliant!  After that initial download which we throttled to 80% of the available link, we see almost no bandwidth usage thanks to this idea of replicating each file block as it changes.  The only way we'd see a sudden spike is if someone saves a large file from somewhere like a CD/DVD to the F&P share.

    I see no reason why VPN's over the Internet wouldn't allow you to do the same sort of thing.

    hope this helps

    Author Comment

    Yes, it does help alot. It gives some thinking to do and some more research. Thanks!
    LVL 1

    Assisted Solution

    So you are looking to provide remote backup service like an ASP.

    Look into this company

    This might be a very good fit for you....

    I actually went with a different solution instead of these guys because I see value in having local copies of your data for quick restores, because I also use disk based imaging solutions to backup a system partition. Having your disk image replicated to a remote site and then having to pull it back down across and internet connection to defeats the purpose of rapid recovery.

    I use a hybrid solution that gives me both rapid local recovery and remote replication in case the building gets eaten by a tornado.

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