Data Backup: Why, How, Where? | The SysAdmin DOJO Podcast
Data back up: why, how, where?
[00:00:00] Andy Hey everyone! On today’s show we’re going to be talking about the Backup Bible, an all-encompassing vendor agnostic guide to all things backup and recovery. We’ve even got the author of the Backup Bible on today’s show, Eric Siron, good friend of mine, fantastic resource when it comes to backup, DR and recovery. We’re gonna be talking about backup strategies, common pitfalls, even how to get the CEO to care and, you know, see value in backup and DR coming up next on the DOJO Podcast.
Hey everyone and welcome to the DOJO podcast, the podcast where we teach you the special skills needed to be successful in the world of IT. My name is Andy Syrewicze, your host of the DOJO podcast, and with me, I’ve got a good friend of mine Eric Siron. How’s it going?
[00:00:47] Eric: Good. How you doing my friend?
[00:00:48] Andy: Eh, doing good, doing good. Can’t complain. It’s good to have you on the show. I know you’ll be a regular contributor to the show, but, uh, you know, some of the listeners that may be tuning in today may not be familiar with you. Can you kind of give them a quick introduction?
[00:01:00] Eric: Sure. Yeah. Hi Eric Siron. I’ve been writing about Hyper-V for a number of years, and recently I picked up a pen on backup, trying to hopefully convince everyone that this is an important subject. So, thanks for having me on.
[00:01:13] Andy: That is a very good segue into our topic today. And I really, you know, we’re talking about the Backup Bible in, in today’s, today’s episode and, you know, the Backup Bible if I would summarize it is designed to be a vendor agnostic, all encompassing e-book that talks about, you know, backup and recovery 101 all the way to, you know, three, 400-level backup and recovery, helping, you know, helping readers build that backup and DR strategy. And you know, really, I think what I want to start with is really talk about why. What was the driving reason before behind offering this eBook, Eric, and, and, and the reason that you want to get it out there.
[00:02:01] Eric: Well, the biggest thing is that people just really kind of don’t take it seriously, uh, or if they do, they don’t have time to take it seriously.
And it’s difficult to get buy-in I think it all the tiers that really need to be involved. So a lot of it was first of all, to bring it back front and center, and then to hopefully give people a little bit of a boost when they need to basically explain to other people that, you know, this is more important than just a couple of people in the IT department here and there.
[00:02:27] Andy: Well, this is more important than a couple of people in the IT department. That that’s like, this is the perfect description of when, when trying to explain back and DR to upper management. Right. I, you know, I think in my experience, what I’ve, I’ve run into when it comes to backup and DR with, uh, you know, I spent a lot of time in the service provider space and I think the most common thing I ran into with organizations that didn’t have a solid plan in place or even functional backups, it was either they didn’t have time or managing backups is boring. Right. Quote, unquote, boring. Um, is that kinda what you’ve run into in, in your experience as well?
[00:03:08] Eric: Oh, absolutely. Your name an excuse, I’ve heard it. And cause I mean, I did backup almost exclusively for like four years at a, at a previous position in that was bad. It did. I don’t have a whole lot of good stories, but I have a lot of terrible ones. So.
[00:03:24] Andy: Terrible stories and backup and DR are not two things that should go together.
[00:03:28] Eric: No, no, but people don’t call me and tell it’s on fire, you know?
[00:03:33] Andy: And that’s what backup and recovery is for.
[00:03:36] Eric: Yes. And then I’m the guy going down that wasn’t any good either. Sorry.
[00:03:39] Andy: Oh no. Well, you know, I we come back to the whole managing backups maybe boring statement, but I would argue, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here, but I would argue that managing backups is at least better than managing printers and maybe email.
[00:04:01] Eric: I guess it depends on where you’re at with boring. Cause I, my printers were always like terrifying and horrifying and driving me to drink. And usually not boring though, because a boring printer is one that just prints paper and I don’t run across many of those.
[00:04:17] Andy: You know, I, I, I like to brag that I once, you know, won a fistfight with a zebra label printer one time, but you know, I’m not going to go into that story right now. Anyway, we’re getting off track. I’m going to go right anyway, back to our topic here. So basically essentially the driving force behind this eBook, if I can summarize, is IT pros either basically don’t give backup and DR the attention that it really requires and, you know, I guess before we really drill into more of the details, can you just kind of give us a quick rundown of what’s in the book? Where does it start and where does it take the readers?
[00:05:11] Eric: It starts with the assessment of what matters, because I think a lot of times people are either they just dump everything in and not really think about it, or they go the other way.
I’m like, well, I gotta have this thing. And this is all that matters and whatever else, you know, if we fit it in. So it’s, it’s the idea that instead of just, you know, taking three or four minutes to set up a backup job and then walking away from it it’s to spend the time to go through the environment and get other people involved.
A lot of times we look at DR as an IT thing, and it’s not backup as an IT thing, but DR is much bigger. And even in backup, you still have to get other people involved because we can only know so much. I mean, we, we know how it works, but other people know what’s the value is I guess, is a good way to put it.
And then from there it kind of goes through, and these are the things that you need to look for when you’re purchasing a solution and then architecting a solution and then keeping it going, checking in on it.
[00:06:07] Andy: Don’t set it and forget it. Right.
[00:06:09] Eric: Do not set it and forget it.
[00:06:11] Andy: I hate, I, I even see some vendors set it and forget it. Our backups are us and I’m just like, why? No! Don’t ever set it and forget it on your backups. You know.
[00:06:23] Eric: Things change too fast. It’s just no.
[00:06:26] Andy: And treat, treat your backups like your mother. Check in on her often.
[00:06:34] Eric: No excuses or lies to anybody.
[00:06:36] Andy: That’s right. That’s right. So, so I think, kind of zeroed in on one of the things you said near the beginning of your explanation. Really backup and DR is, well, of course there is a technical component to it, it’s less about the technical, how to, because you know, that could just be handled, right?
I mean, the technology is the technology, but really the important aspect of any backup and DR strategy. Is identifying those key stakeholders within your organization. Or if you’re a service provider, you know, within each organization you provide services for. Right. And really you want to get the knowledge that they have about the data that lives within that organization. Cause it’s like you said, the value, they’re the ones that know what the value of the data is. So really, again, it’s less about the technology, right? And more about the people and the data more than anything else I think is what you’re getting at. Right?
[00:07:46] Eric: A lot of times we’re like you go into like an accounting department, find out just how much of it runs off like this one master Excel sheet and that sits on somebody’s C-drive. Right. And the people who know the value of it are not the ones running the department, they’re the ones who are doing the day-to-day work.
And so you can’t just assume that well, I’m in IT, I know everything. And I have access to the file server. Yeah. That’s not how that is. That’s not how reality goes at all.
[00:08:09] Andy: Right. So, you know, One stint. One thing that I see quite regularly when you’ve got an IT department trying to architect and put together a backup and DR plan is they just, they just assign a blanket RPO and RTO to their data, right? Just like, ah, yeah. Four weeks RTO seems fine. Yeah. Um, two hours RPO or a day, RPO, whatever, they just kind of arbitrarily pick values it seems. I think more often than not, I’ve seen that as more driven by their hardware capabilities, the amount of storage they have, the, you know, the performance that it has. If they’re in an organization with a lot of data churn, you know. Us IT folks, we tend to react and adjust based on technical information. Right. But when it comes to backup and DR, like you said, the value of the data comes into play as well. So I can’t, I’m sure you’ve run into this as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a situation where, you know, HR’s expectation or the C-suites expectation is, Hey, we can go back and recover data from four years ago or seven years ago, if you know, any industry compliance comes into play, right? But maybe that’s not the, maybe that’s not the reality in the IT department. Right. So really I think a lot of the book talks about getting IT and those stakeholders talking, right? And I think, you know, if we talk about common pitfalls, it’s probably one of them. Um, I suspect you would agree.
[00:09:43] Eric: Oh yeah. Because the, the people and those C-suites and HR and whatnot, just expect that, you know, you’re the computer guy, you know. No. Okay.
[00:09:53] Andy: Yep. Sure. If it plugs into the wall, it’s IT’s responsibility, right?
[00:09:58] Eric: That’s right. I know everything about it and nothing will ever go wrong, cause I can just call your number and you’ll come fix it. And that’s just how it is.
[00:10:05] Andy: What do you mean you can’t tell me how to use my dynamics application.
[00:10:10] Eric: Yeah. How come you didn’t know to back this up for 35 years?
[00:10:15] Andy: Trust me.
[00:10:15] Eric: We’ve only been in business for eight, right?
[00:10:18] Andy: Trust me. You don’t want me giving you accounting advice? I’m just saying. I can install dynamics. I wouldn’t know the first thing about actually using it and just saying.
[00:10:28] Eric: Click here.
[00:10:30] Andy: Hey look, the application started. My job’s done.
[00:10:34] Eric: You’ve exhausted my knowledge.
[00:10:37] Andy: Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?
Ah, okay. So we kind of talked about, you know, the main part being, getting those stakeholders talking and I guess, you know, once, once we start going that route and once, once I’ve seen IT departments understand that and start, start roping in those stakeholders, I think one of the more common issues I’ve seen crop up at that point of the process is you’ll run into somebody in the C-suite. God forbid, it’s the CEO, but it does happen who just doesn’t see the value. Right? I mean, there’s so many C-suite executives I’ve run into in my career that unfortunately just don’t see the value it’s, IT tends to be foreign to some of them. Right? And they just, so well, you know, why do we need backup for more than a day or two, or they. I mean, you’ve run into that yourself as well, yourself I’m guessing.
[00:11:38] Eric: Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So. There’s not a great answer because people are different. And so what works on this person may not work on the next. So there, there, there’s always that part of it is you hope that your, this side of the company is siloed enough to where he can just say, well, take it to the CIO and let him deal with it.
And then, you know, your CIO is a data person, and instead they’re gonna, they’re going to get that. And, other cases that, even the CFO, cause, you know, I’m sure you remember the days when IT was a department of the, the accounting. We were in a lot of places. Yes it is. But your CFOs, they, they have, they understand the value of the data.
And sometimes you just can’t, you know, and then part of it is, as a, as an MSP, like you’re talking about, sometimes you just have to walk in and go, we’re going to sell you the complete package and you’re just, right, you’re not going to have to worry about it, but you’re also going to have to give us some leverage, you know, and unfortunately when it really comes down to it, you’re sitting there with the, I have the one size fits all. But, I need your legal people to tell me what I have to do, because I don’t want you to getting sued.
You know, and you can kind of do that too. He was like, Hey, I’m just trying not to get sued here. And I don’t know what the laws are related to this sort of data. Right. So you can sometimes get some help on that. Then, yeah, a lot of times you just wind up with, we’re not going to give you a budget, you have to go get some free backup software to hold us up.
[00:13:01] Andy: And that’s no fun for anyone it’s not.
[00:13:05] Eric: And, and it’s like, I, I kinda I’m upset with the industry that they have proliferated so much free backup software that now it’s expected. And then like, well, if that’s what your data is worth to you, then. I mean.
[00:13:17] Andy: Right. That’s a good point. You know, it used to be whenever I’d walk into a situation where there was some sort of industry compliancy at play like HIPPA or PCI, or ITAR, you know, I, I used to be this way and I know a lot of MSPs that are this way. They’ll see an organization with requirements like that. And they’re like, nope, I’m staying away. I’m not touching it. Right. Because of all the red tape and all the complexities that are involved with that. But when it comes to backup and DR having that conversation with the powers that be for that organization, I found it actually makes things a lot easier because you, as the IT person have a very easy out, right. It can be like, well, you know, ITAR says that, you know, we need to be able to recover this much data and with this time, and here are the requirements, you know, on government letterhead. Here are the requirements Mr. CEO, and, you know if we don’t do that, you understand what the implications are. That’s an easy out, but for those organizations that don’t have those requirements, I found that at least for me, what always tended to work was kind of laying out an example. Oh crap situation.
[00:14:33] Eric: Which. Here’s the bad side of that is that works once, maybe twice.
[00:14:38] Andy: Right.
[00:14:39] Eric: But when you go in there and go, okay, I am. It’s time to refresh all that hardware that you bought. I got to buy new tapes. I got to buy new storage discs, whatever. They’re like, okay, so three years ago you came in here and you told me the sky was falling. And you’re talking all this, these, you know, natural disasters and theft and all this, and none of that happened and we dropped, you know, X thousand dollars on it.
We’re cutting your budget in half because none of that happened like you promised. So you do have to be careful on using fears as a selling point because it’s, there’s a long-term solution, it’s pretty bad. It needs to come down to statistics. I really believe that that need to show that, you know, the, cause the problem is everyone takes past performance as the indicator of future performance. Right. This is how we predict the future. We look at what has been going on and say, this is what tomorrow holds. The problem is the longer a given piece of technology runs, the more likely it is to fail. That’s how that goes. That’s your progression toward the mean, where everything eventually breaks.
So you have to walk in and say, statistically saying every day that we go, we are in greater risk of something happening. So your, your odds are getting worse, not better. And, but you gotta, it can’t be a failure thing. It’s just gotta be, this is going to happen and we have to be ready for it. Right. That’s it. Right. Right. Don’t you know, it’s just as certain as the sun sets, taxes and all the other things.
[00:15:55] Andy: That’s a, that’s a really interesting segue into an experience that I ran through kind of along these same lines. So, you know, back in my MSP days, I, I did a lot of work with manufacturing clients and, the owner of this one particular company was an engineer by trade.
You know, he wasn’t doing engineering work anymore, but he was the owner of the company they were doing very well, but his mindset was that of an engineer. So, in order to convince him, kind of going back to the whole, the thing about where the longer that the equipment runs, the more likely it is to fail.
What I did that finally convinced him of the importance of backup and DR was actually go and pull, you know, the failure rates for the types of hard drives that he had and, the age and the number of reads and writes and all that type of stuff. Once he had hard, analytical data in his hands, he was like, oh crap, we need to do this.
We don’t know where do I sign? What do we need to buy? So, I mean, it’s, it’s. I mean, it’s really a people issue, right? I mean, you have to know, you know, whether it’s the CFO or your CIO or your C whoever is making that decision, you need to know kind of what makes that person tick. If they’re being particularly, difficult when it comes to trying to, to convey the, you know, the severity of needing proper backup and DR right?
[00:17:24] Eric: Right. So this is a people problem. It really is. Yeah.
[00:17:28] Andy: Definitely. So, you know, and my mother said, I, you know, I couldn’t just sit in the closet and play with computers all day for a job. Right. So, right. You know, that’s the second time. That’s the second time I’ve ref, I’ve referenced my mother in the same podcast.
So I don’t know if there’s something to that or what, but maybe, maybe it’s because I saw her this last weekend, that must be it.
[00:17:52] Eric: Maybe the lessons are just sticking, you know.
[00:17:54] Andy: Maybe that’s what it is. So. Now thinking back to the, the structure of the, the, the eBook. So, you know, it’s, it’s designed to take, you know, maybe somebody who knows nothing about backup and DR, from start to finish, generate that, um, that backup and DR plan. Get the key stakeholders involved. Um, if I recall correctly, there’s a bunch of appendices as part of the eBook as well, too with, um, worksheets, some blueprints and that type of stuff. Can you give us a little bit of information on, what’s uh, what those entail and, um, you know, what kind of value that the, uh, that readers would get out of it?
[00:18:34] Eric: My real goal with those is to make you think, because if you have to fill in a form and there’s a blank there, and you don’t know what to put in it, then that gets you going to go out and find something. Because, I, I’ve noticed that people really don’t like to leave things empty on forms. It’s just a thing that we do.
And maybe sometimes you look at it and, uh, hopefully somebody is out there looking and going, you know, he forgot all this stuff. Well, we got to get this too. That’s what I really want you to do is you identify what I didn’t do for you and you go out there and make that happen. Because again, like we have been talking about this whole time and if you just go out there and say, start this backup job and backup D. Is that doing it? And how long have you, you know, there’s just too many questions there to just throw it up, add it like that. And I want you to look at that and go, okay. And it’s a little bit easier, I think, cause like when you read a book, I know, you know how it is. You can only keep so much in your mind at one time, whereas a, a page or two long form, a little bit easier to digest in a single setting. I feel. So.
[00:19:32] Andy: Yeah, definitely. I mean, those forms, they really helped me out because like, I don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, you know? I mean, so having it all documented and having it all one spot, you know, this is the information I need. Once I’ve gathered that all up, now I can start making some informed decisions. Right?
And then, like you said, once it’s all in place, you know, knowing that information, knowing how long I have to retain the data for, knowing how quickly I need to be able to recover it. Now I can vet those technical solutions. Now I know what pieces of the, the implementation that I need to keep an eye out on, you know, to make sure we adhere to all those requirements that were set, again, by all the key stakeholders in the organisation. So, well, you know, I think we’re getting pretty close to the end of the, the episode today. Is there anything else you want to add on the, on the Backup Bible? Any, any piece that you, maybe suggest that they, they start with or focus on first?
I think what I’ve taken away is the people part of it. Right? Is, is, would you have any other, any other recommendation that they really focus in on?
[00:20:40] Eric: The people is the biggest thing. Figure out what the, the people who can write the cheques, figure out what they need to hear it from you to get those cheques written and protect yourself correctly.
And you also need to dig down and figure out who the people are, who really know what the important data is. Because a lot of times they’re not who you might think.
[00:20:56] Andy: Right.
[00:20:57] Eric: Say find just like Sally in the back corner has actually been running the whole show for the last three years. And it’s just how it is.
[00:21:04] Andy: That’s such a good point. You know, again, thinking back to the manufacturing space, you know, I can identify several situations where it was, you know, Bob in the quality lab. He’s the one that knows about this, you know, olds, you know, 5,000 line Excel file that tracks all their parts or something. Right.
There’s always, there’s something weird in every organization. So yeah, definitely. That’s that’s that’s fantastic advice. Well, all right, well, appreciate your time as always Eric. We’ll, well of course, looking forward to having you on again here for a future episode. So thanks for your time and thanks for coming to talk to us.
[00:21:41] Eric: Thanks for having me.
[00:21:42] Andy: Yeah, definitely. And everyone out there listening, we appreciate you tuning into the podcast today. If you’re looking for more IT-centric content, feel free to check out the Altaro DOJO at www.altaro.com/dojo. We’ve got all kinds of great content there again. Eric is one of our regular authors. I’ve been known to author things from time to time.
We’ve got videos, blogs, webinars, additional eBooks. You know, we cover everything from a Hyper-V to Windows Server, Office 365, VMware, Backup and DR like this, this segment, we, we kind of. We kind of cover a lot of stuff these days. So, eel free to check that out.
If you’d like to join the conversation, we also have some forums that Eric and I are on fairly regularly. Those are at dojoforums.altaro.com. And so all these links don’t feel like you have to quick write them down. I’m going to go ahead and make sure they make it into the episode description. If you’re watching this on YouTube below this video or on your podcast platform, we’ll make sure they’re in the description there as well.
And of course, you know, you can follow, Eric and I on Twitter. Our Twitter handles are below, our, our smiling faces here in this video, if you’re watching or again, if you’re listening to this on the road, just check out the episode description when you’re done. Driving, obviously look at it while you’re driving. Right. But we’ll make sure the link to our social profiles is there as well. Other than that, we’ll let you go. Thanks for tuning into another episode of the DOJO podcast. And we look forward to seeing you next time. Have a good one.
Host Andy Syrewicze and guest host Eric Siron talk about The Backup Bible, of which he is the author. For those that are unaware, The Backup Bible is an all-encompassing, vendor-agnostic guide to all things backup and disaster recovery (DR). The eBook has a little something for everyone. Whether you’re a white belt, just getting started with backup and DR, or a black belt looking to brush up on this crucial topic area, this eBook won’t disappoint.
We cover Eric’s main motivations behind authoring this eBook, why he feels not enough care is given to backup strategies, and more. We even get into the discussion of why backup and DR is more than just an IT department concern and how you can work with the key stakeholders within your organization to make backup and recovery the high priority it should be.
In This Episode
- What is The Backup Bible? – 1:17
- Why is it that Many IT Pros Don’t Take Backup/Recovery Seriously? – 2:01
- Who is the Backup Bible for and What Does it Give Readers? – 5:00
- Why Backup/DR is REALLY a people issue – 6:48
- How do you Convince the C-Suite of the Value of Backup/DR – 11:00
- What additional resources are available in The Backup Bible? – 17:58
- “Do NOT set it and forget it.”
- “Treat your backups like your mother, check in on her often.”
- “If it plugs into the wall, it’s IT’s responsibility, right?
- “How come you didn’t know to back this up for 35 years? So, what if we’ve only been in business for eight.”
- “I’ve found that people don’t like to leave things blank on forms… ”
- “I once won a fistfight with a zebra label printer…. I’m not gonna brag…”
Backup and Disaster Recovery Resources
Have a question? Want to feedback? Send us a Tweet!
Listen to The SysAdmin DOJO Podcast on your favorite platform. Let us know what you think of it (or how we can improve) by rating or leaving a review!
Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe for podcast notifications, and more, on the DOJO.
Not a DOJO Member yet?
Join thousands of other IT pros and receive a weekly roundup email with the latest content & updates!
Access all Altaro DOJO eBooks, webinars and other members-exclusive content
Join 50,000+ IT Pros benefiting from free training
Join the DOJO forum community and ask our expert moderators your questions
Thanks for registering and welcome to Altaro's DOJO!
You will receive a welcome email shortly, as well as our weekly newsletter. Don't worry, you can unsubscribe whenever you like!