Microsoft Windows has become the platform of choice for many businesses today. And with the recent release of Windows Server 2008, many organizations are making the upgrade to this next generation of the operating system. In fact, industry analyst IDC forecasts that by the end of this year, there will be more than 3.5 million installations worldwide of Windows Server 2008.
This growing reliance on the Windows platform to run critical business applications highlights the importance of securing, managing and ensuring its availability. After all, with business objectives on the line, downtime is not an option. Fortunately, a number of proven tools and services are available to help businesses maximize and preserve their investment in their Windows environment, even as they migrate to Windows Server 2008.
A New Foundation
Windows Server 2008 is arguably the most flexible and robust Windows Server operating system to date, with features aimed at providing a more solid foundation for business and application workloads. Windows Server 2008 helps information technology (IT) professionals maximize control over their infrastructure by providing new availability, virtualization, security and management capabilities.
For example, Windows Server 2008 introduces Windows PowerShell, a new command-line shell with more than 130 tools and an integrated scripting language. This environment makes it easier for IT organizations to control and automate repetitive system administration tasks.
In addition, the new Server Manager offers the convenience of a single control panel from which administrators can install, configure and manage the server roles and features of Windows Server 2008.
Because of these enhancements, many organizations are eager to transition to this more robust business platform. As they do, the need to protect their upgraded Windows environment will become a top business priority. To maintain business continuity, IT must seek out solutions that not only recover data, systems and applications but also supports and integrates with the new features of Windows Server 2008.
Never before has keeping a critical, yet complex, IT environment available been so challenging, especially for understaffed, overburdened IT organizations on a tight budget. Data volumes are growing, backup windows are shrinking and the demand for more efficient management is increasing. Additionally, organizations are also looking for faster and more reliable recovery. While the latest release of Windows Server 2008 introduces new advances to help manage and expand business processes, it is critical for businesses to define a complete data and system protection strategy to ensure business critical information is protected.
Without proper protection, an infrastructure failure, natural disaster, or even simple human error could turn a profitable, productive company into a tailspin from which it might never recover.
To reduce this risk, organizations are replacing their silo-based backup and recovery strategies with a single, more comprehensive approach that maximizes Windows Server 2008 and legacy Window systems by supporting VSS Writer Integration, System State, Active Directory, BitLocker technology and Cluster Failover. This new approach provides IT administrators with complete confidence in their Window environment and recovery strategy. Data protection solutions for Windows Server 2008 should also intrinsically protect all open files. With the release of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft set a new requirement for data protection solutions to perform backups from volume snapshots in order to receive certification.
In addition, these comprehensive data protection solutions are powered by disk-based technology to minimize IT downtime and help businesses meet strict recovery time objectives. Advanced features allow IT administrators to restore an entire server system or an individual email in only a few minutes.
A growing number of comprehensive data and system protection solutions also integrate with intelligent archiving tools to extend protection and availability to critical archives. As businesses work to meet regulatory compliance for data retention and recovery standards more business require an integrated archive solution to help mange and reduce storage volumes and overall improved data discovery. The result? Enterprise-class performance without unnecessary cost or complexity.
The data protection component of the more advanced, disk-to-disk-to-tape backup and recovery solutions leverage a couple of powerful technologies to streamline protection. These tools include the ability to recover granular data like emails, folders, mailboxes plus individual documents and attributes from critical Microsoft applications-including Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, SharePoint Server, and SharePoint Services-quickly from a single-pass backup. This allows administrators to quickly restore only the emails and documents they may need vs. the entire database and eliminates the additional management and storage resources required with running Exchange mailbox (MAPI) backups, since mailbox backups are no longer necessary.
Furthermore, this granular recovery technology is used together with disk-based technology that continuously backs up transaction logs and assigns user-designated recovery points. With these technologies, restoring a specific document or email from two minutes ago or 10 days ago takes just minutes because each recovery point can be easily opened and browsed.
Maintaining System Availability
While data recovery is extremely important, it alone will not help a business resume its operations in the event of a system failure or natural disaster. However, Windows system recovery has traditionally been a manual, intensive and lengthy process that can take days or even weeks. IT organizations typically must repair hardware, reinstall the operating system as well as applications, patches, and system updates, and reboot several times.
By contrast, bare metal restore technology can whittle that down to just minutes. With these solutions, an IT administrator can quickly restore systems, even to dissimilar hardware, virtual environments, or from remote, unattended locations. They capture and protect the entire Windows system, from the operating system to applications, databases, files, device drivers, profiles, settings, and registry. And they do it without disrupting users or application usage.
With e-mail now considered mission-critical, IT is under pressure to not only keep this application up and running but also to ensure that messages are accessible. But with such high volumes of e-mail and so little time to manage it, IT administrators face seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Intelligent archiving tools offer welcome relief by providing an automated, policy-driven platform which stores, manages, and enables the discovery of corporate data not just from e-mail systems but also from file servers, instant messaging systems, and collaboration and content management systems.
Advanced archiving tools utilize intelligent classification and retention technologies to capture, categorize, index, and store target data to enforce policies and protect information assets while helping to reduce storage costs and simplifying management. In addition, specialized applications mine archived data to support legal discovery, content compliance, knowledge management, and information security initiatives.
A Strong Combination
The combination of data and system protection with archiving offers IT administrators an efficient, cost-effective and reliable solution for ensuring the availability of their Windows environment.
To further protect their new operating system, IT must also efficiently manage and secure the entire Windows environment. System management tools will enable IT to effectively and efficiently handle the increased complexity that comes with Windows Server 2008, while compliance management tools will automate and standardize compliance processes and enable IT to better manage internal mandates and external regulations.
In addition, security solutions such as endpoint protection, messaging security, and data loss prevention will enable IT to proactively protect Windows Server 2008 systems as well as end users from unwanted attacks and spam.
As businesses continue to rely on Microsoft Windows to run their business, IT organizations must also be able to back up and recover mission-critical data and systems, manage the complexities of an increasingly robust operating system platform, and safeguard systems and users against security risks and threats. By leveraging proven tools for protecting Windows, IT organizations can be sure their promising business environment remains secure, well managed, and accessible.
About the Author
Pat Hanavan is, vice president of product management,
Backup Exec, Symantec Data Protection Group.