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Geo-Redundant Backups Champion Long-Distance Data Protection Against Disasters

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The adoption of geographic redundancy in data backup strategies is on the rise, gaining popularity among data backup teams, particularly in the context of preparing for natural disasters. With the increasing visibility of climate change and the prevalence of extreme weather events, traditional data storage and recovery practices are facing growing threats.

Geo-redundant backup offers the advantage of duplicating critical infrastructure off-site across multiple data centers situated in different regions. This approach ensures that valuable data remains safe in case on-site data is lost or becomes inaccessible, thereby eliminating the risk of a single point of failure.

Johnny Yu, an industry analyst specializing in enterprise IT storage at IDC, explains, “Geo-redundancy means you have the infrastructure resources to run a critical workload in more than just the primary data center. It is separate from having backup data stored somewhere and ready to recover. Instead, geo-redundancy refers to extra networking, storage, and computing resources residing in a secondary data center, ready to ‘switch on’ to handle a failover.”

Geo-redundancy plays a pivotal role in ensuring continuous data protection, particularly when it comes to failover, which allows for automatic switching to a redundant secondary site or the cloud in situations where the primary server, application, hardware component, or network becomes unavailable. This capability minimizes downtime and mitigates adverse effects on end users who may face difficulties accessing crucial data.

While data and application restoration typically fall under the purview of disaster recovery teams, backup administrators must ensure that a suitable environment is available for recovery. 

Geo-redundant backup can face challenges, including compliance considerations. Many organizations have their own data governance policies that may impose restrictions on data storage or access at secondary locations. Regulations like the GDPR may prohibit the movement of personally identifiable information across international borders, necessitating compliance with data backup laws in different countries and local regulations.

Another challenge associated with geo-redundant backups is the cost. Establishing and maintaining a secondary data center involves additional expenses for hardware and infrastructure. It requires budget approval from upper management to justify the duplication of resources.

Johnny Yu concludes by noting the substantial overhead cost involved in backing up to a secondary site, which encompasses housing the hardware, cooling, and power, staffing for hardware maintenance, and hardware upgrades. 

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