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SQL Server and Data Protection Manager


I was busy recording session movies last week for a big TechNet event, hence the slip in blogging regularly. One of these was on the little known Data Protection Manager (DPM) a comprehensive archive and backup solution for the whole Microsoft platform including SQL Server 2008. But why a separate backup tool for SQL Server now that Enterprise edition has compression and encryption built in to backup?

My argument would be that it protects everything Microsoft from one interface so you don’t have to worry about conflicts between tools and schedules and it’s ease of use plays well for the IT Professional who has to manage multiple applications like Exchange and SharePoint as well as SQL Server.  It also understands how to protect active directory and can backup the system state of PC’s and servers.  The only odd thing is that it is ridiculously cheap, but then so is SQL Server.

The secret to all of this functionality is volume shadow services (VSS) which allows DPM agents (installed on each server protected by DPM) to map which blocks an application like SQL server is using and detect when any are changed.  Periodically (controlled by you) DPM will then copy over these changed blocks to disk or tape managed by the DPM server. These together with an initial copy of the database allow DPM to recover SQL Server to any 15 minute interval as far back as you configure and have space for. 

If you have the transaction log and database on different disks then in a disaster recovery scenario you can use DPM to get you back from loss of the database to within 15 minutes of failure (with the no recovery feature set on) and then replay the logs.And the same thing applies to Exchange and SharePoint, your files etc.

DPM is smart enough to understand and work with clusters, mirroring, replication and log shipping, as it is not to designed to replace these high availability features, but to provide disaster recovery and long term archiving.

For my demo I setup DPM to protect two SQL Server one running 2005 and one with 2008 on.  I could then protect and then restore a 2005 database onto SQL Server 2008 and use DPM to do a simple side by side upgrade.  

If you want to know more about this then you can watch my TechNet session when it comes out (June 19th) or go to the DPM site here.