A week or so ago, the folks over at Reddit threw together an initiative to transform March 31 into World Backup Day -- a day in which we'd be sure to make backups and test them. While the day is really more targeted at consumers who might not be backing up their personal data at all, we in the enterprise space could probably stand the reminder, too.
As I've said before, consistently ensuring that we have good, usable backups too often falls off the back of the truck -- pushed out by much more pressing firefighting or project work as a result of today's "do more with less" IT realities.
Making error-free backups in the first place is bad enough, but setting aside the time to perform thorough usability testing of them is more than many of us can fit into our schedules more than a few times a year. If you're in that boat, you're leaving yourself open to an enormous risk -- especially considering how complex some backup methodologies have become. Including deduplication and multiple tiers of backup hardware and software in the mix may make backups faster and ultimately less expensive, but that complexity often comes at the cost of reliability.
As a commenter on that blog entry said, "Personally, I think if you aren't going to ensure your backups actually restore, you might as well quit making them at all." I couldn't agree more.
That's one reason I'm always on the lookout for tools that not only make backups faster and more efficient, but also simpler and easier to test. Unfortunately, the field of backup products that can do this for you out of the box is surprisingly narrow. One really great example of this concept done well is Veeam's Backup and Replication backup software for VMware vSphere/ESX.