Published: March 11, 2011

Backing up ROBOs and REWOs

Remote and branch office (ROBO) and remote worker (REWO) data at the "edge" is one of the more challenging aspects of a data protection strategy. ESG research found that endpoint backup/recovery and remote office backup/recovery ranked in the top five of primary data protection challenges and the top ten data protection spending priorities. So clearly, it's a problem area and one IT wants to fix.

So what exactly is the problem? ROBO and REWO data is distributed-i.e., outside the data center. Therefore, it boils down to strategy-do you perform local backup of data or centralize the process? Either approach gets the data backed up. However, each introduces new issues.

A ROBO local approach requires backup infrastructure to be maintained at the ROBO site. Data doesn't have to travel very far for backup or recovery, which cuts down on bandwidth requirements. But now there's a silo of backup data. Can the backup/recovery process be managed remotely from a central data center? Yes, most likely. But what if troubleshooting requires operator intervention locally?

A REWO local strategy means backup (and recovery) is endpoint user driven-maybe a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. Allowing the REWO to decide when, to where, and how often data gets backed up takes the pressure off IT and doesn't get in the way of REWO productivity. On the other hand, it can introduce gaps in protection. Is the REWO motivated and disciplined to get the backup done? This scenario can also create hundreds to thousands of silos of backup data-all out of the control of the IT organization. Yikes!

A ROBO centralized approach means edge data is transferred to the central data center. All policies, processes, and backup copies are managed centrally. Good for control, but what's the tradeoff? The costs of bandwidth and time to move data between sites for backup may be a deal-breaker for this type of implementation. And recovery time objectives (RTOs) go from hours to days.

A REWO centralized approach follows the same guidelines as a ROBO centralized one, but with a big distinction: REWOs are infrequently connected to the network, so scheduled backups could be missed, and bandwidth constraints could make it difficult to complete data transfer within a reasonable amount of time. In addition, REWOs have no control over data recovery.

So what's the right approach? It's probably a combination of local and centralized backup/recovery. Sure, you have to double-down on backup technology components to deploy this scenario, but you do solve the problems introduced with a local-only or centralized-only approach. Now the question is: which vendor offers the most streamlined and optimized hybrid (local/central) solution to make it happen?

Read more of Lauren's blog entries at Data Protection Perspectives.

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