Exchange 2013 Native Data Protection relies on built-in high availability features to protect the mailbox data, without the use of traditional backups when deployed and configured correctly.
However, here is my question. Without using a traditional backup, is just using the built-in HA in Exchange 2013 enough to satisfy data restore and disaster recovery requirements? When determining if Exchange 2013 allows you to move away from traditional point-in-time backups, we should consider the cost of end-user downtime and data loss when attempting to recover from a disaster using the existing backup infrastructure, in addition to include hardware and license costs associated with the traditional backups.
Exchange 2013 from my understanding includes many built-in HA features such as: DAGs across sites (more DAGs with smaller databases), a lagged database copy (for a point-in-time restore of the database), recoverable item folder and Legal hold (for accidentally deleted items), CRCL (continuous replication circular logging) and in-place archiving (for a long-term storage). These features not only reduce downtime and data loss in the event of a disaster, but also reduce the TCO of the messaging system. In general, it is likely that a pure Exchange 2013 environment with the aforementioned features could provide lower TCO than one with the traditional backups.
According to this MS KB article there are several issues that we should consider before using the features built into Exchange 2013 as a replacement for traditional backups.
- You should determine how many copies of the database need to be deployed. We strongly recommend deploying a minimum of three (non-lagged) copies of a mailbox database before eliminating traditional forms of protection for the database, such as Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) or traditional VSS-based backups.
- You should clearly define the recovery time objective and recovery point objective goals, and you should establish that using a combined set of built-in features in lieu of traditional backups to enable you to meet these goals.
- You should determine how many copies of each database are needed to cover the various failure scenarios against which your system is designed to protect.
- You should determine whether eliminating the use of a DAG or some of its members capture sufficient costs to support a traditional backup solution. If so, you should determine whether that solution improves your recovery time objective or recovery point objective service level agreements (SLAs).
- You should determine whether you can afford to lose a point-in-time copy if the DAG member hosting the copy experiences a failure that affects the copy or the integrity of the copy.