Virtual Crash Testing: The End of Traditional Backup Audits?
Crash testing has gone virtual. We're talking about cars. We all know and value the results from tests performed by NCAP (the New Car Assessment Programme) on thousands of automobiles every year. They help us judge the risk of injury or death in case of serious accidents, by means of a rating system. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the US has a supplementary system but have mentioned that they don't expect virtual crash tests to replace the real thing.
In a recent article by Automotive World, Russ Rader, the senior vice president of communications at the IIHS also said, "Computer simulations help automotive engineers design new vehicles without having to crash real cars over and over. They won't change the crash tests conducted by IIHS, which are designed to explicitly demonstrate for consumers the differences in how vehicles would protect them and their families in the real world. We need to conduct tests of real vehicles in order to do that."
Incidentally, the same applies to recovery testing. We're talking about backup audits. But new technology is continually being developed in the sphere of data protection where bringing an entire system down is no longer the only way to test whether you'll have access to the data or if the recovery will actually work.
Being the subject of a backup audit isn't fun but a virtualised approach will be able to more easily address the following aspects of a backup audit:
Backup process reliability and restore testing. Credible backup solution providers are able to perform this type of testing on a daily basis on your behalf. This saves you from having duplicated systems to perform a full-on failover test. And if things are checked daily instead of annually, issues can be addressed before an actual disaster occurs.
Operations/business continuity. We understand the importance of having a business continuity plan. In an environment that requires near-100 per cent uptime, it's crucial that a backup solution can provide access to data in an instant. With technologies like VirtualRestore and LiveRecovery you have two options respectively: mounting the files of an account in your backup server and restore only specific files immediately; or restoring an entire data set while working on it, such as databases – the data is restored concurrently in the background.
Computers, infrastructure and applications. Being able to capture images of entire servers becomes necessary if those servers contain critical applications and run essential business processes. The consistency and reliability of those images need to be verified continually. By restoring said server to a virtual environment, it negates the need for additional hardware resources. A backup provider that offers managed services can easily take care of this.
Scenario complexity. Due to the configurability of a virtualised recovery environment, complex scenarios can be more easily constructed if required during the backup audit.
Easy does it
So it seems that virtualisation technology can definitely help to be prepared for a backup audit. It is able to save costs on hardware as well as expertise within the business that would otherwise be required to keep a backup solution robust and reliable. It can even help streamline the auditing process once auditors start dissecting your IT systems.