The Mayan calendar will run out of pages in December of this year, so some think this means that the end of all things is imminent. Count me a skeptic, but, if you don't have both a plan for regular data backup and a disaster recovery solution in place, you might as well accept, skeptically or otherwise, that disaster is imminent, at least in your network closet.

 

Defining Network Disasters, Mundane and Massive

Stuff breaks. It happens. That's why you have a network monitoring system (NMS) in place; you want to know when it all, or at least some part of it all, falls apart. As I posted earlier, a typical NMS, like Orion NPM, works primarily by regularly polling status from monitored network objects. As each monitored object responds, your NMS passes status data, most likely, to some form of database. It's stored in a database so you can call it up and manipulate it later. When interfaces on a router serving your sales team start flapping, you know because your NMS alerted you to it within seconds of it happening. This is exactly the type of relatively mundane, daily disaster for which you stood-up your NMS in the first place. But what if the server hosting your NMS database crashes? Or, what if the server hosting your NMS decides to have a bad day? What do you do when massive disaster strikes?

 

When Massive Network Disaster Strikes

As an IT pro, you need to get data about your network promptly, and you need to be able to review it over time. Getting data promptly is what your NMS does; making that data accessible for review later is what your database does. That's two points of vulnerability. How do you protect yourself?

 

Protecting Against NMS Failure with Failover & Disaster Recovery

You've got an NMS so you can have data at your disposal. If your NMS fails you can't do your job. If you can't get your NMS back up, you might be better off getting a new job. There are a couple of different ways you can prevent this sad fate, of course. In short, you need to set up a second server to fill in for your primary NMS if and when it fails. In a future post, I'll go through some of your options in this regard, but if you want to do some extra credit reading, you can check out our Failover Engine.

 

Protecting Against NMS Database Failure

There's probably a database tied to your network management system and, if you're wise, your database and NMS are on physically separate servers. The previous section dealt, at least preliminarily, with failure of your NMS server. You can and should protect against database failures by simply, and regularly, creating database backups. It's really that simple.

 

OK, so it isn't really that simple.

 

Here's some more information on backing up some common databases that we use around here:

If you're using SolarWinds NPM for your network monitoring, you can configure regularly scheduled database backup and compaction. For more information, see "Creating a Database Maintenance Plan" in the SolarWinds Orion NPM Administrator Guide.