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Paranoid and Proud of It: Planning Your Backups-3 : Page 3


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Presenting the Questions
Questions such as acceptable downtime, loss of data, etc. can be disturbing to business users. You don't want your questions to imply that you are building an unreliable and shaky system. You should therefore consider carefully how you broach these questions.

Much depends on the sophistication of the user. With one user, a simple comment that I had found a bug in SQL Server 4.2 led to over an hour's discussion on bugs in software. Apparently this user had never realized that there could be any bugs in commercial software products!

You should also be prepared to explain the implications of the answers the user will make. That way, you know how to handle someone who gives you an unreasonable answer, such as "Absolutely no downtime at all." Rather than getting into an argument over the reasonableness of such a demand, simply explain the additional cost to the system to meet such a demand.



In a future 10-Minute Solution, I'll show you how to utilize the answers to the questions discussed here to choose among the various options for backups provided by SQL Server.

The Quiet Computer Room
Finally, I'd like to share a story provided to me by Mike Frey in response to my previous article on this topic.

The Chicago branch of this bank had most of its trading computers in one room. This room was accessible to a limited number of employees and was also separated from the main office by a door that only employees could open. Of course, the person who delivered the printer paper needed access to the computer room to stock the paper. This person, while not technical, was trained on what should and should not be done in the computer room. This person also worked primarily at another site, stocking their computer room, and had not spent much time in the trading computer room.

The other site had a very modern computer room. If your hands were full, you could press a large red button next the door to open it 'hands free.' The trading computer room also had a large red button by the door. It was the emergency power button. We always wondered why no one had taken the time to put a sign on it indicating its purpose. But, of course, everyone knew what it was for, right?

Needless to say, the paper stocker tried to open the trading computer room's door by hitting the red button. It was a very strange experience to walk by that computer room when all the air conditioning blowers were off.

Bad enough. It also seemed that during all the disaster recovery planning, no one had actually tried to shut down all the trading room computers and restart them. All the effort was focused on a severe disaster that prevented access to the building. It took almost seven hours for the administrators to get all the trading systems up and running again. Naturally, this happened early in the morning.



Joe Lax has spent the last 10 years working in various database environments and has been a practicing DBA on all versions of SQL Server from version 4.2 onward. Joe is also a MCSE and an MCT. Recently, he has started to learn Oracle, which affords him no end of fun.
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