As I’ve roamed the halls of EMC World over the past two days, the most frequent question I’ve been asked is “What does a transformed backup environment look like?” (Actually, more people have asked me what Zolla and I were doing on stage during the keynote? So, for the last time, his mike wasn’t working and I was letting him use mine to tell the people in the booth, Ok?)
Most people are expecting a blueprint for an answer. I imagine they expect me to pull out a Visio diagram teeming with DPA, NetWorker, Avamar, DLm, and Data Domain. But backup transformation isn’t defined by any specific technology or workflow. You don’t achieve “transformation” status by deploying Oracle RMAN backups directly to Data Domain, leveraging VMware Changed Block Tracking for Avamar backups or even by going tapeless. You do it by:
- Establishing trust between the backup team and its consumers. The VM, application, primary storage, and server teams feel that they are partnering with their backup team. There is communication, innovation and understanding between them.
- Addressing “safety net” concerns and accelerating business velocity: Your organization has such confidence in its “safety net” (i.e., its backups) that data protection concerns aren’t slowing down key initiatives (e.g., virtualization, application consolidation/refresh, storage consolidation). Instead, your organization is moving even more quickly because it knows that the safety net is there to protect it.
- Thinking of backup as a business-enabler: Instead of worrying about being marginalized by other teams, your backup team knows that it is adding business value. Instead of spending time trying to keep its head above water, your backup team is making strategic plans for the future (e.g., evaluating cutting-edge backup approaches, exploring archival strategies and discussing other uses for the protection copies of their data).
But, most importantly, you know you’re on track, when your backup team embraces a service-provider-style model. Instead of insisting that backups and recoveries run through their heavyweight processes and infrastructure, the backup team delivers appropriate solutions to meet customer challenges and corporate protection standards. This may mean enabling an Oracle DBA to run its own backups/recoveries via RMAN to Data Domain, protecting 10 other databases with NetWorker and DD BOOST, and running DPA reports to manage the entire environment.
Of course, as with any big change, taking the first step is often the hardest. But trust me the journey is well worth it!