Data Protection Manager (DPM) Consultants

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LG Networks is a leading Microsoft Gold Certified consulting firm with deep expertise in Data Protection Manager (DPM) as a Disaster Recovery solution for Microsoft platforms. If your company relies on Microsoft® server technologies, you should strongly consider Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) for protection and recovery. The certified Data Protection Manager experts at LG NETWORKS have experience with DPM from when it was in Beta through its release.

Database administrators, e-mail managers, and other IT implementers and developers are looking for a better way to protect and recover data from key business applications like SQL Server™, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint or even simply file shares on Windows Server. Microsoft has heard from customers and partners like us and delivered a complete solution with System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM). LG NETWORKS’ DPM experts have deployed this backup solution for our own datacenter of over 50 servers, as well as for many of our clients.

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) Consulting
DPM is a member of the Microsoft System Center family of management products, which are designed to help IT Professionals manage their Windows Server® infrastructure. DPM sets a new standard for Windows® backup and recovery—delivering continuous data protection for Microsoft application and file servers to a seamlessly integrated secondary disk and tape solution on the DPM server. DPM enables rapid and reliable recovery through advanced technology for enterprises of all sizes.

A Data Protection Appliance
If you prefer Dell equipment, you should seriously consider their Data Protection Appliances. The Dell PowerVault DP 100, 500, and 600 are disk-based appliances built on the same PowerEdge / PowerVault hardware that you are used to. They run the Windows Storage Server OS, which is essentially an optimized/enhanced version of Windows Server for file & disk-based IO, delivered for appliance solutions like this one. Best of all, for one low price you get this server, disk array, and DPM already installed.

Microsoft protection and recovery for Microsoft applications
Microsoft designed DPM to provide the best backup and most reliable restore for Windows Server® applications.

Focused on the primary Microsoft server workloads, DPM was specifically built to protect and recover SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, SharePoint® Portal Server, Microsoft Virtual Server, as well as Windows file services. In addition, DPM 2007 blends the best aspects of continuous data protection (CDP) with traditional tape backup.

DPM continuously protects the core Microsoft server workloads to a DPM server or appliance, which then provides disk-based recovery and tape-based, long-term archival storage for a complete data protection and recovery solution.

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The Problem with Tape Technology
Our DPM experts know that when it’s time to go into disaster recovery mode, the tape backup system is often one of the biggest disasters. The traditional model of tape-based backup utilizing applications such as BackupExec and ARCserve is fraught with problems. Tape is slow, unreliable, and requires meticulous management. Microsoft’s reported in-house operational experience indicates a 17% failure rate for its tape devices. Basically, for a tape-based restore procedure to be successful, too many things have to go right:

  • IT managers need to have fast access to all the backup media required for a specific recovery
  • All tapes must have no unreadable spots despite the fact that, in typical situations, they have been subject to physical wear by being rewritten many times
  • Tapes must have been stored in the right environmental conditions to remain usable
  • The software catalogs managing those tapes must not be corrupted
  • Complex electromechanical tape drives must be available and working properly

The decisive disadvantage of tape as a backup-and-restore technology is that tape is slow. Tape backup typically calls for routinely scheduled system downtime, and tape-based recovery procedures can take intolerably long even when everything is working perfectly. Virtually all facets of contemporary businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on ready access to digital information, and the amount of data that companies generate to remain competitive is expanding dramatically. This growing reliance on networked data makes every minute of downtime more calamitous, while the ballooning volume of data being created adds steadily to the time required for tape-based backup and recovery.

Finally, tape-based backup and recovery regimes are logistically complex and demand substantial time and care to administrate. Media has to be managed, cataloged, and stored in a way that allows for consistent backup and accurate recovery, but issues such as personnel changes, company relocations, the need to accommodate remote offices, maintaining tape-friendly temperature and humidity in the storage facility, and the hassle of validation testing all invite human error or omission and inflate IT budgets. In essence, while tape technology remains a reasonable means of long-term archiving, it is becoming continually less viable as a technology for on-line backup and restoration.

Disk Drives to the Rescue
Microsoft Data Protection Manager radically changes the reliability and usability aspects of backup and restore. The key differentiator is that DPM is primarily an intelligent disk-to-disk based backup solution.

The basic concept is simple. You configure a DPM server with enough disk storage to hold a complete replica of all the data you want to protect from all your servers along with space for the historical changes you want to keep. For a 30-day history this may require somewhere in the range of 1.5 to two times the protected data space. The actual disk capacity needed is highly dependent on how often your data changes. Since disks are inexpensive and getting more affordable all the time, storage costs are relatively trivial for most IT organizations.

What is more significant is that a DPM server can be built with highly fault-tolerant components such as redundant power supplies and ample redundant cooling. By configuring RAID 5 or RAID 6 (double parity drives) striping on the backup disks, reliability is far higher than with tape-based systems.

Microsoft leveraged key technologies in Windows to make Data Protection Manager the backup-and-restore solution of choice. The foundation of DPM is the use of Volume Shadow Services for creating and maintaining extremely compact differentials. It does this both on the protected server for efficiently replicating change differentials over the network to the DPM server, but also on the DPM server itself for efficiently storing the historical snapshots used to recover data.

You can gain almost continuous data protection by replicating data from your protected servers as often as every 15 minutes. This means that if you have a failure on your server, in the worst case you can restore it to the last 15 minutes. This is far beyond the practical capability of tape-based backup systems. Basically, the DPM server always has a complete and up-to-date replica of all protected data. DPM takes further advantage of disk technology by storing the data in a Windows format file system that you can directly navigate to with Windows Explorer. DPM actually creates separate disk volumes for each protected server.

Thanks to support for disk-to-disk recovery and restore, DPM can reduce network recovery time from hours to minutes and make administrative tasks far more intuitive than with tape-based solutions.

Maximizing protection of Microsoft workloads with Microsoft backup & recovery

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DPM is designed for the application stakeholder, a SQL or Exchange Administrator or an IT generalist and uses wizards and workflows to help ensure that you can protect your data – without requiring an advanced degree, training or certification in storage and backup technologies.

DPM presents the data to be protected in the same context as users access it. In DPM, file servers can be protected by selecting file shares within the Data Protection Wizard. In DPM, SQL Server databases and Exchange Server storage groups are selected and protected the same way.

Meeting Microsoft Customers’ Needs
Common customer questions about their existing backup:

“Who can help me restore?”
During a crisis, as part of the data recovery, many customers are frustrated when bringing in multiple support organizations to help restore their data. The third-party backup vendor may say that the data restored successfully. But, Microsoft Product Support Services may say that the data appears un-mountable. And the systems integrator, the database administrator or the lone IT professional can be stuck in the middle. Having a Microsoft backup product protecting a Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange Server or SharePoint platform means that customers don’t have to worry about misunderstandings between vendors when restoring their data.

“My backup product does some things well, but protecting my advanced Exchange configuration isn’t one of them.”
Because third-party backup products try to back up a wide variety of applications, it is very difficult to protect every application well, particularly with flexible applications like mirrored SQL Server databases or a CCR/LCR cluster under Exchange Server. Microsoft is dedicated to making sure that our backup solution is one of the very best for protecting our application workloads. Microsoft protects our own enterprise SQL & Exchange servers with DPM, beginning early in the beta process. This helps ensure that no DPM build will go to a customer that Microsoft IT hasn’t signed off as tested in our own demanding production environment.

Take a look at how DPM can protect your Windows Server® infrastructure
While most customers currently have some form of tape backup technology, there are many who are discontent with the current offerings, either looking for better support of key business applications like Microsoft Exchange Server or SQL Server, or looking for better than nightly protection to a medium other than tape. Data Protection Manager addresses those needs. If you depend on Microsoft Server-based platforms, including SQL Server or Microsoft Exchange, to manage and deliver information within your company, take a look at how DPM can help you protect your business critical data.

Backing up with Data Protection Manager 2010
Now you can back up a variety of Microsoft technologies using Data Protection Manager 2010. See DPM 2010 New Features.

Contact us to learn more about how our DPM Consultants can help you protect your Windows Server environment.

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