Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager ConsultantsMicrosoft System Center R2 Data Protection Manager (SCDPM 2012) is the backup/recovery component of Microsoft's System Center 2012 R2 datacenter management suite SCDPM 2012 designed to protect Windows servers, clients, and workloads including Exchange Server, SQL Server, Virtual Machine Manager, SharePoint, Hyper-V, and Windows desktops and notebooks. SCDPM 2012 allows continual, transparent backup of physical and virtual computers to local or offsite disks and also allows offline backup to tape. SCDPM 2012 supports fast recovery of entire servers or individual files, self-service capability for trusted users, and seamless integration with Microsoft Windows Azure Backup for cloud-based protection. Integration with System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager's Central Console allows unified management, monitoring, and remediation support for SCDPM 2012 environments. (Learn about Progent's Microsoft Azure planning and cloud integration consulting services.)

SCDPM 2012's use of disk-based backup gives you the speed and reliability you need to preserve your critical business data without degrading network performance, while SCDPM 2012's tape support simplifies compliance with internal, contractual or regulatory data retention requirements. SCDPM 2012's support for site-to-site backup makes it a viable platform for enterprise-class disaster recovery, and SCDPM 2012's simplicity of operation and low cost of implementation makes it an ideal backup-and-restore solution for small and midsize organizations as well.

Microsoft designed Data Protection Manager with special attention to protecting Microsoft servers and workloads. By supporting Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) and other key protection features built into Microsoft servers and applications, SCDPM 2012 can transparently backup and rapidly restore Microsoft-specific entities such as Exchange DAG groups, the distributed components of SharePoint farms, and Windows Hyper-V Clustered Shared Volumes (CSVs). This allows administrators who are not experts in any or all of these technologies to recover data easily and accurately. SCDPM 2012 continuously protects the core Microsoft server workloads to a SCDPM 2012 server, which then allows disk-based recovery and tape-based, long-term archival storage for a complete backup and recovery solution. The scalability of SCDPM 2012 has been enhanced so that a single SCDPM server can support up to 800 virtual machines and 3,000 Windows clients.

System Center Data Protection Manager Consultants

The Problem with Tape Technology
Experienced IT managers 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 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 administer. 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 popular and often mandated means of long-term archiving, it has become obsolete as a medium for primary backup.

Disk Drives to the Rescue
Microsoft System Center 2010 Data Protection Manager radically changed the reliability and usability aspects of backup and restore. The key innovation was that SCDPM 2010 offered an intelligent disk-to-disk based backup solution. SCDPM 2012 builds on the concept of disk-to-disk primary backup and adds key enhancements including seamless cloud-based backup and recovery based on Windows Azure Backup for improved disaster recovery, lower investment cost for off-site infrastructure, and simplified recovery management.

The basic idea is simple. You configure an SCDPM 2012 server with sufficient disk storage to hold a complete replica of all the data you want to protect from your servers and workstations 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 an SCDPM 2012 server can be built with highly fault-tolerant components such as redundant power supplies and ample redundant cooling. By configuring high-availability storage arrays, reliability is far higher than with tape-based systems.

Microsoft leveraged key Windows technologies to make System Center Data Protection Manager the backup-and-restore solution of choice for Windows environments. The foundation of SCDPM is the use of Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) 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 SCDPM server, and also on the SCDPM server itself for efficiently storing the historical snapshots, or recovery points, 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 SCDPM server always has a complete and up-to-date replica of all protected data. SCDPM takes further advantage of disk technology by storing the data in a Windows format file system that you can directly navigate with Windows Explorer. SCDPM actually creates separate disk volumes for each protected server.

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

The New Standard in Fault-tolerant Data Backup and Restore
SCDPM offers significantly more granular control over your recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) than tape-based systems. On the SCDPM server, you can take snapshots for historical restorations based on a schedule that matches a variety of protection requirements. For example, you can schedule daily, twice a day, three times a day, hourly, or 15 minute snapshots, and you can define a separate snapshot schedule for each protected server or share. Your accounting server, for instance, may require frequent snapshots so you can recover to a specific moment in the day, while other servers may be fine with daily snapshots. The bottom line is that Microsoft's System Center Data Protection Manager is flexible enough to handle almost any environment.

The obvious question with disk-to-disk backup is what happens if a natural disaster or other catastrophic event such as fire or theft wipes out all your local servers including your SCDPM server? One way to prepare for this is to back up your SCDPM server to a separate SCDPM server at a collocation site. Collocation facilities are affordable, offer geographic dispersion, and provide high levels of redundancy for power, Internet connectivity, and environmental controls. With SCDPM 2012, you can integrate SCDPM with Azure Backup, Microsoft's cloud-based protection platform. This can provide the off-site storage and high-availability infrastructure needed for advanced disaster recovery without the CAPEX requirements and management headaches associated with a conventional off-site datacenter. This solution can also be a practical alternative to using tape for long-term backups because it leverages the effectively "bottomless" capacity and nominal 99-year storage capability of Azure Backup. (Tape backup may still be required to meet regulatory requirements.)

An important feature of SCDPM that supports off-site backup is the ability to perform highly efficient over-the-wire compression for all transferred data. This can easily result in about a 5-1 compression ratio and theoretically can go as high as 10-1. Once the initial replica is established, backups are further streamlined by the fact that SCDPM sends only differentials and utilizes inherently fast hard disk technology. As a result, SCDPM-based backup works well with the WAN bandwidth typically utilized by any business.

For your original data replica, which can't take advantage of differentials, a time-saving technique for small businesses is to create the replica manually. For example, in the case that you add a new large server to be protected and your SCDPM server is in a collocation facility, you can simply copy all the data from the new server to a USB hard drive, bring the hard drive to the collocation facility, and upload the data directly. You can then perform a consistency check that will quickly and intelligently update anything that has changed with the data set since you made the manual copy. From that point, you are backed up and ready for any emergency.

System Center Data Protection Manager also supports bandwidth throttling so you can keep bandwidth use low during the business day and crank it up to use all the available bandwidth in the middle of the night. SCDPM has the speed and versatility to match your performance needs and to adapt easily as your business evolves.

Tape-based archiving is efficiently supported by SCDPM. There is an option for performing tape backups via the SCDPM server for off-site tape protection, which may be required for regulatory or compliance. Another powerful feature of SCDPM is that tape backups copy the replica data set residing on the SCDPM server and therefore donít needlessly consume WAN bandwidth. SCDPM also gives you the option to have a second SCDPM server configured to back up the primary SCDPM serverís data so you can have a local SCDPM server as well as an off-site backup SCDPM server in order to improve fault tolerance and optimize recovery speed.

Using System Center Data Protection Manager with Microsoft SQL Server
SCDPM 2012 can protect Microsoft SQL Server 2000 through SQL Server 2012, including SAP workloads, and handles advanced SQL Server cluster configurations. For enhanced reliability and performance, SCDPM 2012 supports the use of clustered SQL Server nodes for its database. As evidence of SCDPM's capability, Microsoft protects their own enterprise SQL Servers with System Center Data Protection Manager. SCDPM 2012 includes the ability to protect an entire instance of SQL Server so all new databases are protected automatically, expanded capacity to handle up to 2,000 databases, and a self-service restore capability that allows administrators to restore their own databases.

SCDPM can backup regular data files as well as the system state of a server, and it also works efficiently with servers that maintain databases/transactional log files. SCDPM is especially efficient as a backup and restore mechanism for Microsoft SQL Server because it intelligently integrates with the SQL Server VSS writers. Since SCDPM uses core VSS services, it will backup all files, open or not, to at least a snapshot recovery level. As a result, you never have to worry about open file issues. SCDPM 2012 can also protect SQL Server 2012 databases that use the AlwaysOn feature, including database clusters and SharePoint farm databases with SQL Server AlwaysOn enabled.

In between express full copy captures, the standard SQL Server transaction logging mechanism is used to offer up-to-the-minute protection. The log files themselves are replicated by SCDPM. In case a recovery is required, the most recent SCDPM differential backup can be combined with the most recent set of transaction logs to provide rapid restoration.

For information about Progent's Microsoft-certified support services for SQL Server, refer to Microsoft SQL Server Consulting.

Using System Center Data Protection Manager with Microsoft Exchange Server
SCDPM 2012 supports Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013, and can now protect Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 database availability groups (DAGs). SCDPM includes the ability to provide tailored, application-aware protection for Exchange Server and addresses a granularity problem that has historically been a major headache for Exchange administrators. Exchange backup APIs are designed to back up entire databases. However, if you want to restore an individual mailbox or public folder, you have in the past had two choices: either restore the entire database or switch to third-party mailbox-level backup tools. SCDPM allows you to protect one or more storage groups as a whole, while still giving you the ability to restore individual mailboxes.

SCDPM also offers ďlossless recoveryĒ of Exchange Server data. This means that after SCDPM has restored your email databases to the latest recovery point, and updated all of the synchronized transaction logs, SCDPM can automatically reapply the surviving Exchange transaction logs from the production server to the very last committed email message, bringing the Exchange server completely forward.

SCDPM improves the performance of your Exchange Server by offloading the typical ESEUTIL operations that most backup applications impose on the production server. The SCDPM server takes car of this on the redundant data, conserving the bandwidth on the production Exchange Server.

To learn more about Progent's support for Microsoft Exchange Server, see Microsoft Exchange Server Consulting.

Using Data Protection Manager with Virtual Servers
The 2012 version of SCDPM offers continuous protection for virtual machines (VMs) powered by Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and through integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) can provide consistent protection even during a Hyper-V Live Migration process. For users of VMware, a way to reduce disaster recovery time drastically is to build an SCDPM server with enough CPU and RAM resources to create a system that allows you quick recovery from a failed virtual machine host server. Since the SCDPM server always has an exact replica of all the virtual machine guest files, in the event the virtual machine host fails, and by having a virtual server installed on the SCDPM server, you can choose to boot those replica images as running machines and take your time in restoring the original failed virtual machine host server. This means you could be up in minutes with all your virtual machine guests even with a complete failure of the original virtual machine host. Adding to the time savings, the entire operation can be accomplished remotely.

The performance of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) 2.0 deployments has been improved in SCDPM 2012, which offers a 900% increase in Express Full Backup speed, allows parallel backups, and supports SMB shares. In addition, SCDPM 2012 allows you to scale out protection of Hyper-V clusters, removing the previous limit of a one-to-one relationship between a Hyper-V cluster and an SCDPM server. The SCDPM protection agent that runs on a VM can be attached to multiple SCDPM servers, making it possible to add the VM to a protection group on any of the recognized SCDPM servers.

Additional Enhancements to System Center R2 Data Protection Manager
SCDPM 2012 includes significant improvements in the areas of cloud support, virtualization, centralized management, self service, performance, and optimizations for protecting Microsoft workloads. To learn more about these enhancements and to find out how Progent can help you benefit from them, see SCDPM 2012 Planning and Implementation Consulting.

How Progent Can Help You Benefit from Microsoft Data Protection Manager
Progent's Microsoft-certified Data Protection Manager consultants can help you create practical recovery plans, design an affordable fault-tolerant network infrastructure, deploy a SCDPM-based backup and restore solution, thoroughly test your system, show your IT staff or local consultants how to manage Microsoft SCDPM, or handle complete IT outsourcing services including off-site hosting of virtual or physical SCDPM servers in Progent's datacenter.

Progent's consultants can use industry best practices to help you:

  • Define your recovery goals and establish a protection policy to meet them
  • Design an efficient multi-site network topology for SCDPM
  • Configure Windows Server 2012 R2, SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint to run with SCDPM 2012
  • Configure Protection Groups and Storage Pools
  • Calculate and allocate disk space for backup
  • Define custom volumes
  • Plan tape library rotation and management
  • Install Protection Agents on computers inside and outside your firewall
  • Integrate SCDPM 2012 with System Center 2012 Operations Manager (SCOM 2012) and with System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM 2012)
  • Integrate SCDPM 2012 with Microsoft's Azure Backup for cloud-based protection
  • Optimize backup and recovery performance

Progent's security specialists have earned prestigious certifications from global organizations such as CISA, CISM, CISSP, GIAC, and ISSAP. To be awarded credentials from these organizations, security consultants must have both proven experience and demonstrated knowledge of industry best practices for business continuity planning and disaster recovery. For more information about Progent's security engineers and their services, visit Network Security Services.

Additional Zero-Downtime Solutions Offered by Progent's Consultants
Progent's certified consulting experts can help your company to design an efficient, high-availability IT architecture that resolves critical issues covering a broad range of infrastructure solutions and operations such as:

Business Continuity Planning
Progent's business continuity planning professionals can show you how to create a business continuity plan so you can resume IT functionality in the event of an IT system disaster. Progent can help you to develop a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy that includes scheduled disaster recovery assessments and drills. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco-certified engineers can also help you create an affordable, high-availability system architecture that addresses availability issues involving a broad array of network technologies and procedures. To find out more, visit Disaster Recovery Consulting and Support Services.

Non-stop Internet Connectivity
Progent's Cisco-certified IT engineers can help you create an affordable, fault tolerant Internet connection architecture that can achieve 24x7 Internet connectivity via a broad range of fault tolerant Internet access solutions including fault tolerant BGP, transparent fail-over, and multiple Internet Service Providers. Progent can provide Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert engineers to help you apply the latest techniques for high availability Internet access to create an affordable, completely redundant Internet network with automatic failover and other features to deliver zero-downtime Internet connections. For details, see Fault Tolerant Internet Connectivity Solutions.

Microsoft Server 2016 Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Progent's Windows Server 2016 disaster recovery/business continuity consultants can help your organization to plan and deploy a DR solution built around Microsoft's latest Failover Clustering technologies such as Cluster Operating System Rolling Upgrade for non-disruptive migration to Windows Server 2016, Storage Replica for crash-consistent recovery, Storage Spaces Direct for high-performance storage clusters using industry-standard equipment, Virtual Machine Load Balancing for enhancing the performance and fault-tolerance of Failover Clusters while minimizing capital investment and management overhead, and Cloud Witness for easy, affordable deployment of a failover cluster quorum arbitration point. To read more, see Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Expertise.

Windows Server 2012 Failover Clustering
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 brought world-class availability and recoverability to Microsoft's clustering platform. Windows Server 2012 R2 builds on this foundation and provides important enhancements offering more scalability, non-stop storage uptime for server applications, simpler administration, faster failover, and additional options for architecting failover clusters. To find out more, go to Windows Server 2012 Clustering Consulting and Support.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) Disaster Recovery Solutions
VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a component of VMware vCenter that lets you define, automate and test a repeatable runbook for recovering applications and services rapidly following a breakdown. SRM provides centrally controlled and automated disaster recovery, application mobility, and non-intrusive site migration, failback and re-protect. SRM also enables non-disruptive testing for site recovery, upgrades and patches and can generate audit reports to confirm full service restoration, validate Service Level Agreements and prove disaster recovery compliance. Progent offers the support of a VCDX certified VMware SRM consulting expert to assist you to plan, configure, test and administer a DR system powered by VMware SRM.

NetApp MetroCluster High Availability and Disaster Recovery Software
NetApp MetroCluster is a disaster recovery software suite that uses array-based storage clustering with synchronous replication to deliver rapid, zero data loss disaster recovery (DR) between datacenters that are up to 300km apart from each other. Progent can provide the skills of a NetApp MetroCluster consultant who can help you to plan, configure, administer, upgrade, test and repair a disaster recovery solution based on NetApp MetroCluster. Progent can assist you to choose a topology for your MetroCluster environment that aligns with your functional needs and budget. Progent can make sure you follow leading practices for configuring your MetroCluster solution by providing help with procedures like assigning disk pools, arranging aggregate layout, setting up NetApp FlexVol volumes, setting up Data ONTAP configuration replication service, installing Cisco and Brocade switches, designing a tiebreaker mechanism, designing a TCP/IP configuration replication network, and verifying your MetroCluster disaster recovery system to prove compliance with information assurance standards and government requirements.

Fault Tolerant Load Balancing
Progent offers high availability load balancing support that addresses system load balancing, load balanced applications, network infrastructure routing, and content dispatching technology such as Cisco Content Engine. Fault tolerant load balancing products for which Progent can provide consulting services include Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008 Network Load Balancing Manager, Citrix Access Suite and Presentation Server, Cisco CSS, Cisco Distributed Director and ACNS, and F5 Networks BIG-IP. For details, see Non-stop Load Balancing.

Fault Tolerant Data Centers
Progent's Data Center engineers can show you how to identify zero-downtime data centers that meet the particular requirements of your company. High availability Internet Data Centers are especially appealing to small and mid-size businesses because of their affordability and simplified logistics in comparison to pursuing a do-it-yourself strategy. Trying to create an in-house data center that offers even a minimum degree of fault tolerance is too costly for the majority of small companies. Progent can show you how to reap all the benefits of non-stop data centers by offering a full array of consulting and support services. To learn more, go to High-Availability Colocation Expertise.

Failsafe Branch Office Networking
Progentís interoffice network infrastructure professionals can help businesses create fault tolerant multi-site connectivity through fully redundant networks featuring transparent failover. Progentís Cisco-certified CCIE network engineers can plan and implement fault-tolerant Inter-office networks supported by fault tolerant EIGRP network routers or zero-downtime OSPF deployment of Cisco routers. Progent can show you how redundant connectivity and transparent fail-over offers economical non-stop interoffice networking. For more information, go to Failsafe Inter-office Connectivity.

Managed Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package
Progentís affordable Offsite Data Protection Manager Backup Service Package incorporates the power of Data Protection Manager with the world-class security features of the QTS (formerly Herakles) Data Center in Sacramento to provide continual, transparent backup for as much as 2.5 Terabytes of data from one or several of your Windows-powered servers. Progent's managed service package includes all configuration, management, and tracking needed for a comprehensive offsite data backup system. For more information, see Fully Managed Offsite DPM-based Backup Service.

Backup and Restore Solutions Consulting
Progent can provide affordable remote access to engineers skilled in a wide range of products and technologies that provide solutions for backing up Microsoft Windows, Mac, and Linux servers and desktops plus laptops and smartphones. Progent can provide consulting support for leading data protection products such as Acronis Backup and Recovery, Backup Exec, BackupAssist Software, CrashPlan, Double-Take, MozyPro, Retrospect for Macintosh, Time Machine, VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP), and Solaris FLARs. Progent can help you to deploy, enhance, or maintain backup/restore solutions for a variety of environments including on-premises, edge to datacenter, cloud-based, or hybrid. For details, visit Backup and Recovery Technology Consulting.

Consulting Services Double-Take Software for Backup and Recovery
Double-Take Software offers a family of tools designed to deliver small and midsize businesses a variety of affordable alternatives for backing up and restoring business-critical applications such as Exchange Server, SQL, Blackberry, and SharePoint. Progentís business continuity planning experts have extensive experience integrating Double-Take Software technology into small business information networks to achieve a high level of availability and disaster recovery capability at an affordable cost. To read more, visit Consulting Services Double-Take Solutions for Backup.

CRISC-qualified Network Risk Control
The CRISC program was established by ISACA in 2010 to validate a consultant's ability to plan, deploy, and support information system controls to mitigate risk. Progent can provide the expertise of a CRISC-certified consultant to assist you to create and carry out a workplace continuity or disaster recovery plan that follows leading practices promoted by CRISC and geared to align with your organization's risk tolerance, business objectives, and IT budget. To learn more, see CRISC-certified IT risk control specialists.

Why Choose Progent for Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning Solutions?
Because Progent is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and provides professional application expertise for a wide variety of business applications, Progent can help clients to arrive at efficient IT solutions that substantially enhance the business value of your network. As a Registered Partner with Cisco, Progent can provide the expertise of certified engineers and specialists with experience in designing, installing and managing infrastructure solutions built on Cisco technology. The extent of Progent's technical experience and Progent's familiarity with the needs of small and midsize businesses make Progent the perfect partner for building and running an affordable, dependable information system.

How to Get Help from Progent's Experts for High Availability Network Services
If you wish to get in touch with Progent about consulting help for fault tolerant LAN design, call 1-800-993-9400 or see Contact Progent.
















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