The role of Granular Recovery Technology in backup strategy

Nick Cavalancia

As you work to translate your customer’s recovery requirements into specific mixes of backup sets and recovery targets, sometimes there isn’t a perfect fit. Backups of entire VMs or databases are perfect… if your customer is looking for recovery at that same level. But often, the customer is looking for an ability to recover some subset of a larger dataset. Take the example of individual messages from within an Exchange Mailbox Database; it’s reasonable for your customer to want to granularly recover an individual message, but it’s not entirely reasonable to perform mailbox-level backups, say, daily, on the off chance a message may need to be recovered.

So, how do you meet your customer’s granular recovery needs without the granular backup?

needleEnter Granular Recovery Technology (GRT). GRT is used by many backup solutions to allow recovery of the smallest data set within a larger backup set. Normally utilized within image-level backups of VMware and Hyper-V implementations, as well as specific database-driven applications, GRT provides you with the ability to recover items at a granular level by directly interfacing with the backup.

Go back to that Exchange backup of the entire Mailbox Database. To recover a specific message or mailbox, you’d need to recover the database to an alternate server, or perhaps recover an image of the Exchange box, access the mailbox in question using Outlook, and export out the message. But, if you perform a GRT-enabled backup of Exchange instead, you can perform a GRT recovery by mounting the backup, rather than needing to recover the image or database, and extract the required message directly from the recovery console.

It’s evident there are technical benefits, but does it enhance your business?

The answer is yes, and for a number of reasons:

  • You can add another service offering – GRT isn’t just another way to recover Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory, and other applications; it represents another level of recovery offering your customers can engage you to provide.
  • It raises your productivity – we all know the goal is to provide services while putting the least amount of effort in and getting the highest level of quality out. And if you’re not charging your customer by the hour, performing an Exchange granular restore in a fraction of the time it takes using traditional methods makes a lot of sense.
  • You increase your revenues – A GRT backup will take up additional storage space, so you’re going to need to cover those costs. But since you’re also giving your customer another level of recoverability, this should be another source of revenue for your organization.

GRT recovery is good for everyone involved. You provide better service, your customer is happier because their Exchange messages are recovered in record time, and you’ve made more money. And to boot, in the case of MAX Backup, the functionality (called VirtualDrive) is built directly into the solution, making it a simple addition to your service arsenal.