Kiwibank uses SQL Backup Pro automated restores to verify backups

A case study from Brent McCracken, technical lead of Kiwibank's DBA team...

As DBAs, we all know that we can't be 100% sure that a database backup is good until we restore it. Kiwibank is located in New Zealand, a small country on the Pacific "ring of fire", where earthquakes and volcanic activity are a business reality. For our Tier 1 systems, classified by their importance to customer interaction with the bank, we need to have a 100% guarantee that our backups are good, even when we have other high availability technologies in place. The challenge we had was finding the time to perform test restores on all these backups. This is where the scheduled restore capability of SQL Backup Pro proved its worth.

Our business continuity plan, in the event of disaster, relies upon two geographically distant data centers. In our primary data center, we create and schedule through the SQL Backup wizard all of the database backup jobs for our production server. In the alternate data center, we create an automated restore job, again through a SQL Backup wizard.

In our primary center, each backup job, run by SQL Agent, completes the backup and then uses the COPYTO feature in the backup command to copy the backup, compressed and encrypted, to the backup server in our alternate data center. The concluding step of the backup job is to initiate the automated restore job, which restores the backup to our backup server. This obviously avoids any performance hit with performing the restore on a production server.

This means that as we take daily differential backups, SQL Backup Pro automatically copies them to the alternate data center and restores them on our backup server. Using the AUTO command for naming the backups, these restores "just work". The icing on the cake is that we perform all our DBCC consistency checks once the backup and restore operations are complete. So not only is our database backup in good shape, so is our production database. At the end of all this, the database is dropped saving the space we just used, and all this happens during the night.

What Kiwibank is doing with SQL Backup Pro isn't rocket science, in fact, it is achieved easily with the built-in wizards, and yet it gives us full confidence that our backups are 100% reliable in a failover situation.

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