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What are some Gmail DR considerations?

While Gmail DR is provided for users, certain precautions are recommended to ensure email safety and security.

According to Google, Google Apps customers don't need to worry about backing up email or other data that they create and store within Google Apps because disaster recovery (DR) is provided at no additional cost to organizations of any size.

Google claims its recovery point objective design target is zero, and describes its recovery time objective as "instant failover" to an alternate resource. The company achieves these goals using synchronous replication, in which every Gmail transaction is simultaneously replicated in two data centers at once. If one data center fails, the data is immediately transferred to the other data center that has been receiving the same data. The primary goal with Gmail DR is to avoid losing any data when it's moved from one data center to the other. A secondary goal is to complete the move so quickly that users are unaware of the activity.

Data replication is provided for all Google Apps products, including Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Sites. The company replicates all data multiple times, and backs up the 25 GB storage allowance for Gmail at no additional cost. Google operates multiple large data centers simultaneously to support its millions of users. The company efficiently balances loads across data centers to ensure that all its resources are used. Google also deploys many high-speed connections between data centers, so replicated data can be moved quickly among many servers.

Despite the capabilities of Gmail DR, and even if your organization uses an industry-standard email product or third-party provider, I recommend obtaining a second email address from a different email service provider to ensure email resilience. In addition, you should do the following:

  • Test the alternate email service periodically to ensure it works.
  • Advise your key contacts and HR department of the alternate address.
  • Add the alternate address to all business continuity and DR plans, as well as other relevant contact lists.
  • If your email service is provided locally, ensure that email servers are regularly backed up and that a failover capability is in place to recover to a backup email server.
  • Have backup power systems in place.
  • Ensure DNS servers, as well as other relevant devices and data, are regularly backed up.

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