One important capability of a disaster recovery plan is the ability to do bare metal restore (BMR). A BMR is a restore of your entire server to new or original hardware after a catastrophic failure. A BMR can either be done manually – by reformatting the computer from scratch, reinstalling the operating system, reinstalling software applications, and restoring data and settings; or automatically – by using BMR tools to facilitate the bare metal restore process. The manual process, however, takes time and can be error prone, while BMR tools can be fast and easy.
With the majority of servers being virtualized, what’s the use of BMR? With virtualization, especially when using image level backup, there is no need to use specialized BMR tools. However, there are still servers that cannot be virtualized (such as applications requiring dongle, systems requiring extreme performance, applications/databases with license agreements that do not permit virtualization, etc.). With these systems requiring physical servers, BMR is critical to their recovery.
Backup vendors usually have bare metal solution integrated in their package, but usually not enough. There are software vendors that specialize in bare metal recovery.
Typically, a bare metal restore process involves:
1. Generating an ISO recovery image
2. Using the ISO image to boot the system to be recovered
3. Once in the restore environment, setting up the network connection (IP address, netmask, etc.), so it can connect to the backup server to restore the image.
4. Verifying the disk partitions and mapping.
5. Stepping through the restore wizard – such as choosing the image file you want to restore (point in time), and the partition (or unallocated space) to which you want to restore.
6. Performing any post recovery tasks – such as checking the original IP address, checking that the application services are running, etc.
Bare metal restore is essential to a server disaster recovery plan.