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As information technology continues to evolve into more and more business-focused applications, those same applications become more and more vital to the business. Take the case of the Intranet. Once a simplistic methodology of delivering web-based information to employees, it has morphed over many years into the touchstone for corporate communication and interaction. SharePoint Server, with its SQL Server back-end solution set, has quickly grown into a major component of corporate data distribution and collaboration systems in many organizations. This has elevated it from a nice-to-have system that could be down for days to a mission-critical platform that cannot be out of commission for more than a few hours, and in many cases far less time than that.



To their credit, Microsoft has recognized the necessity for SharePoint/SQL combination solutions to be survivable in the event of a component loss, and this article will not go into those details, but in terms of the loss of a server or group of servers, the solution sets often require assistance from 3rd party tools to recover. For years, this has been the domain of tape-based backup solutions, and their disk-based progeny. However, merely protecting the data can be done with existing SharePoint and SQL tools. What is needed is a full-server protection solution set that is flexible enough to move with the shifting needs of any modern organization.

Such solutions do exist, but most force the organization to obtain and maintain identical or nearly identical hardware in order to ensure a successful recovery. While such a restriction may be acceptable when the SharePoint architecture is first installed, within a few months minor component upgrade/replacement will quickly become a financial and administrative burden on the company. For example, if a server self-diagnoses a failing RAM module or hard drive, most systems can allow administration to correct the problem by replacing the failing component well before it actually fails completely. This is great in terms of avoiding non-scheduled downtime, but horrible if you now have to purchase two of every single part that is replaced; one for the primary system and one for the standby system.

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