REL09-BP01 Identify and back up all data that needs to be backed up, or reproduce the data from sources - AWS Well-Architected Framework

REL09-BP01 Identify and back up all data that needs to be backed up, or reproduce the data from sources

Understand and use the backup capabilities of the data services and resources used by the workload. Most services provide capabilities to back up workload data.

Desired outcome: Data sources have been identified and classified based on criticality. Then, establish a strategy for data recovery based on the RPO. This strategy involves either backing up these data sources, or having the ability to reproduce data from other sources. In the case of data loss, the strategy implemented allows recovery or the reproduction of data within the defined RPO and RTO.

Cloud maturity phase: Foundational

Common anti-patterns:

  • Not aware of all data sources for the workload and their criticality.

  • Not taking backups of critical data sources.

  • Taking backups of only some data sources without using criticality as a criterion.

  • No defined RPO, or backup frequency cannot meet RPO.

  • Not evaluating if a backup is necessary or if data can be reproduced from other sources.

Benefits of establishing this best practice: Identifying the places where backups are necessary and implementing a mechanism to create backups, or being able to reproduce the data from an external source improves the ability to restore and recover data during an outage.

Level of risk exposed if this best practice is not established: High

Implementation guidance

All AWS data stores offer backup capabilities. Services such as Amazon RDS and Amazon DynamoDB additionally support automated backup that allows point-in-time recovery (PITR), which allows you to restore a backup to any time up to five minutes or less before the current time. Many AWS services offer the ability to copy backups to another AWS Region. AWS Backup is a tool that gives you the ability to centralize and automate data protection across AWS services. AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery allows you to copy full server workloads and maintain continuous data protection from on-premise, cross-AZ or cross-Region, with a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) measured in seconds.

Amazon S3 can be used as a backup destination for self-managed and AWS-managed data sources. AWS services such as Amazon EBS, Amazon RDS, and Amazon DynamoDB have built in capabilities to create backups. Third-party backup software can also be used.

On-premises data can be backed up to the AWS Cloud using AWS Storage Gateway or AWS DataSync. Amazon S3 buckets can be used to store this data on AWS. Amazon S3 offers multiple storage tiers such as Amazon S3 Glacier or S3 Glacier Deep Archive to reduce cost of data storage.

You might be able to meet data recovery needs by reproducing the data from other sources. For example, Amazon ElastiCache replica nodes or Amazon RDS read replicas could be used to reproduce data if the primary is lost. In cases where sources like this can be used to meet your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO), you might not require a backup. Another example, if working with Amazon EMR, it might not be necessary to backup your HDFS data store, as long as you can reproduce the data into Amazon EMR from Amazon S3.

When selecting a backup strategy, consider the time it takes to recover data. The time needed to recover data depends on the type of backup (in the case of a backup strategy), or the complexity of the data reproduction mechanism. This time should fall within the RTO for the workload.

Implementation steps

  1. Identify all data sources for the workload. Data can be stored on a number of resources such as databases, volumes, filesystems, logging systems, and object storage. Refer to the Resources section to find Related documents on different AWS services where data is stored, and the backup capability these services provide.

  2. Classify data sources based on criticality. Different data sets will have different levels of criticality for a workload, and therefore different requirements for resiliency. For example, some data might be critical and require a RPO near zero, while other data might be less critical and can tolerate a higher RPO and some data loss. Similarly, different data sets might have different RTO requirements as well.

  3. Use AWS or third-party services to create backups of the data. AWS Backup is a managed service that allows creating backups of various data sources on AWS. AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery handles automated sub-second data replication to an AWS Region. Most AWS services also have native capabilities to create backups. The AWS Marketplace has many solutions that provide these capabilites as well. Refer to the Resources listed below for information on how to create backups of data from various AWS services.

  4. For data that is not backed up, establish a data reproduction mechanism. You might choose not to backup data that can be reproduced from other sources for various reasons. There might be a situation where it is cheaper to reproduce data from sources when needed rather than creating a backup as there may be a cost associated with storing backups. Another example is where restoring from a backup takes longer than reproducing the data from sources, resulting in a breach in RTO. In such situations, consider tradeoffs and establish a well-defined process for how data can be reproduced from these sources when data recovery is necessary. For example, if you have loaded data from Amazon S3 to a data warehouse (like Amazon Redshift), or MapReduce cluster (like Amazon EMR) to do analysis on that data, this may be an example of data that can be reproduced from other sources. As long as the results of these analyses are either stored somewhere or reproducible, you would not suffer a data loss from a failure in the data warehouse or MapReduce cluster. Other examples that can be reproduced from sources include caches (like Amazon ElastiCache) or RDS read replicas.

  5. Establish a cadence for backing up data. Creating backups of data sources is a periodic process and the frequency should depend on the RPO.

Level of effort for the Implementation Plan: Moderate


Related Best Practices:

REL13-BP01 Define recovery objectives for downtime and data loss

REL13-BP02 Use defined recovery strategies to meet the recovery objectives

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