Are you, or your company, of the mind that data disasters won’t happen to you, and in the event they do, your company will recover? If so, think again: According to Wikipedia’s “disaster recovery” entry, “Of companies that had a major loss of business data, 43% never reopen, 51% close within two years, and only 6% will survive long-term.” Wow, and to think that you can prevent data loss nowadays. So what’s holding you back from implementing a disaster recovery solution in your organization? Are you worried about the maintenance that will come along with such a solution or about how many changes you’ll have to make to your database schema to support it? These are common concerns for database administrators and there are products out there that address them.
For example, you might consider implementing a disaster recovery solution that monitors your servers and notifies you of any problems, such as Data-Rite Systems Group’s SQL Server disaster recovery product, DR-Synch. It works by backing up your transaction logs regularly and automatically restoring them on a standby server. In the event of a server failure, you switch your users over to the standby server. Once the primary server is back up and running, DR-Synch automatically syncs the logs no matter how long the server has been down. “Unlike the Microsoft tool, the standby server can be down for two or three hours and when it comes back up it will catch up to where all of the logs were that didn’t ship,” says Michael Feldman, the president and CEO of Data-Rite Systems Group. Will Rodriguez, Data-Rite Systems Group’s CTO went on to say that “In case the logs on the primary server get truncated, which takes the database out of sequence, the product will automatically re-sync the databases again.”
DR-Synch automates transaction log backup processes and monitors your servers. “The console’s really mainly used for monitoring and for setting up and configurations,” says Rodriguez. “Once you’ve done that, you’ll receive email notifications automatically if something goes wrong.”
On January 14, DR-Synch 3.0 was released. The latest version of this product replaces WinZip with a new compression algorithm, which compresses data faster. The product now includes historical tracing and improved detection of server failures, in addition to better error handling. “At times, if we weren’t capturing an error, it would fail and just send a generic internal SQL Server error. Now we actually capture the error as it’s logged in the job history, and we send that as part of the email notification alongside our own custom error handling,” says Rodriguez.
“We’ve also added in-place upgrade features, so now any time we have any new releases, sometimes there will be minor releases, but any time we have a release they’ll be able to upgrade automatically to the new version,” says Rodriguez. “Before they were always able to upgrade the front end automatically, but then the database portions, since there might be new stored procedures, tables, or folder structure changes, they would have to upgrade those manually.”
According to Feldman, one of the advantages of using DR-Synch 3.0 instead of replication is that you don’t have to change the database schema. “If you’ve already previously set up a database for log shipping among those servers, it will automatically now pick up the configuration and actually apply it across, so you don’t have to set everything or remember where you put in the stored folders or what drive you want to store the databases at,” says Rodriguez. “So it’s very close to set it and forget it, except the fact it sends out a lot of emails letting you know where things are,” says Feldman. Rodriguez and Feldman say that the product’s UI is simple to use, so simple, in fact, that they have had customers ask them not to modify the UI. According to Rodriguez, many of the features new to DR-Synch 3.0 were added due to client request. “A lot of the clients that use it email me directly and tell me ‘hey, it would be nice if we had this’ or we have an issue with this, and that’s how the product has really grown, just from client requests that we have received.”
This product costs $8,000 and includes a site license (i.e., you can use it on an unlimited number of servers and databases as long as they are on the same network) and a year of free updates and support. Currently, DR-Synch 3.0 supports only SQL Server 2005 and 2000, although Feldman says a future release will provide SQL Server 2008 support. For more information about DR-Synch 3.0, check out Data-Rite Systems Group’s website.