Lego Architecture sets are among the greatest inventions of the last decade. My seven-year-old son Connor loves to show off his Lego creations, but my wife doesn’t really appreciate the aesthetic value of a Lego Death Star. Thankfully, Lego solved the problem by creating beautiful reproductions of buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe….
As Connor and I constructed the 2000+ piece Robie House, he asked, “If nobody famous lived here, why is this place famous?” I answered, “The architecture. The right architecture is priceless.”
- Game-changing Protection Storage Architecture
Building Intentional – Not Accidental – Architectures
Evolving data protection technology and expanding requirements have completely transformed the backup industry. Unfortunately, with such rapid change, many organizations have fallen into the chaos of an accidental architecture. The backup team isn’t solving critical protection performance challenges from the application, virtualization and storage teams, so those teams deploy silos of point products as they deem appropriate. The accidental architecture results.It’s accidental because nobody would intentionally plan for half-dozen unconnected protection tools, no central oversight and no cost controls (Okay, based on their acquisition history, maybe Dell would.).
Customers need to define a protection storage architecture to combat the accidental architecture. This architecture should be composed of loosely coupled modules to minimize vendor lock-in while providing the value of integrated data protection. That way, the backup team can solve immediate challenges while delivering a platform that can evolve with business and technical requirements.
What are the key challenges that the protection architecture needs to address?
- Over the next three years, the protection team will be expected to deliver multiple services: disaster recovery, backup and archive.
- The protection team must tie together a disparate set of technology components and owners. Virtually every part of IT plays a role in data protection. The application team is the focus because they’re delivering the technology value to the business. IT infrastructure –virtualization, storage, servers and network – must keep the business applications running. With such a diverse set of people and technology required to deliver a protection solution, it’s no surprise that a data protection administrator survives about as long as a main character in Game of Thrones.
What Is a Protection Storage Architecture?
The protection team must bring together the right people, processes and architecture to transform the technical and organizational complexity into a successful solution. In the past, we’ve talked about the evolution of the protection team and its approach. Now, it’s time to talk to talk technology.Our most successful customers have adopted a protection storage architecture, which consists of three core, loosely coupled modules:
- Protection Storage: This is the anchor of the architecture. First, protection storage has a unique design center in the storage world: cost-optimized storage with high data durability that can deliver disaster recovery, backup and archive. Second, to avoid creating silos of protection storage, the platform must support multiple protocols (e.g., VTL, NAS, OST and deduplication-aware protocols like Data Domain Boost) and integrate with multiple data sources (applications, hypervisors, storage and backup applications). The right protection storage sets the team down a path of a flexible, reliable, scalable infrastructure for protection. The wrong choice? You’ve seen what happens in the Friday the 13th movies when you take a wrong turn…
- Data Source Integration: Internal customers want two things from their protection team. First, performance – backup and recovery needs to be fast. Second, they want visibility into the protection of their data. The protection storage architecture leverages both the optimized data flows and user interfaces of the data sources: hypervisor, application and storage. The data sources deliver optimized protection performance because they can track the data as it changes (e.g., VMware Changed Block Tracking, array snapshots)versus trying to figure out what changed after the fact (e.g., traditional backup agent searching through all the data for the changes). The user interface (e.g., vSphere, Oracle RMAN, Unisphere) displays protection status in that team’s preferred, native interface. Data source integration eliminates the two causes of the accidental architecture – performance and visibility. Of course, this integration is available only if you have chosen protection storage that can support these flows.
- Data Management Services: The protection team delivers value with data management services. Thus far, the architecture eliminates the causes of the accidental architecture, but the protection team needs to add value to convince their customers to adopt their services. What services can they offer? Senior management wants to ensure the protection meets SLAs and compliance regulations… as cost effectively as possible. They need analytics and reports for compliance, policy and infrastructure utilization. Customers want to be able to retrieve any version of any information, easily and quickly. The protection team needs to have a catalog of the company’s information – from local snapshots to backup copies to offsite/cloud copies to their deep archives. By taking on the responsibilities that everybody in the organization deems necessary, but that nobody wants to do, the protection team gains the credibility to consolidate data protection.
Only by bringing together all three modules of the protection storage architecture can the central protection team deliver the services, performance, and visibility that the business and its customers need.
From Blueprint to Reality?
The protection storage architecture is a blueprint to guide the transformation of data protection from the chaos of the accidental architecture to a clean, centralized protection service. Like all blueprints, however, there are two things to remember.
First, like my son’s 2000+ piece Lego set, you’re not going to build the solution in one day; it takes time and patience. Set a journey with key milestones and enjoy the evolution. Second, like a Lego set, you need more detailed descriptions of what to build.
Over the coming series and at EMC World next week, I’ll dive more deeply into each of the architectural components. Your organization will appreciate your streamlined, elegant protection architecture… because, as Mies van der Rohe said of his designs, “Less is more.”
Being crammed into a metal tube more than 30,000 feet in the air seems to release the mind to wander aimlessly through the archives of fragmented memories, half facts and interesting tidbits you’ve picked up along your journey.
Perhaps it’s a sleep deprivation thing. Perhaps it’s the first sign of madness. Whatever the cause, I’ve come to understand that these thoughts are subconscious beacons, rather like an inner voice laying breadcrumbs to an “aha” moment.
My latest pondering has been centered on the fragility of time: How many of the things we witness or decisions we make have life well beyond the window in time in which they occur. A comet, the twinkle of a fading star, a serendipitous encounter, the “luck” in being in the right place at the time.
Even our careers are seldom planned; we think hard, work hard and aim well, but how much of our journey has really been about the action of “carpe diem”? At a specific historical moment, we remember making a decision and living with the consequences. For me, things like signing up to move to the U.S., making a bet on Mr. Manley as a classy CTO and less successful decisions like that black run I decided to attempt on my ATV, come to mind.
So, where do these breadcrumbs lead?
To the question of how to recognize the difference between fad and trend. Fads tempt your impulse gene but likely have no sustain. A trend may feel the same, but the journey takes a very different path and has very different consequences.
A decision in “data protection” should never be taken lightly; whatever we sign up to has ramifications far beyond our sphere of accountability or involvement. I’m guessing for backup architecture, decisions come around maybe once every 5-10 years.
Careers and life are more transient than we’d like to admit. Likely speaking, in a couple years’ time you’ll have moved onto some new project and so, too, will the sales teams that assisted you in the decision-making process; the only constant will be the solution you invested in for your company.
So, what do you want your legacy to be? How do you mitigate risk and yet deliver results that will be celebrated as your legacy?
Choose wisely, correlate the facts, seek sage advise and, importantly, bet on technologies you’re confident will stand the test of time. And, above all, make sure you surround yourself with vendors that do the same. Fads won’t be there with you at the finish line!
May the force be with you!
“We are no longer in a period of rapid change! We have now entered a unique period of time, unlike anything any of us have ever seen, that can best be described as transformation.”
Powerful words from Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research, in his recent blog Transform Now … or Struggle to Survive. While I encourage you to read the full post, the gist is this:
- We’re reached an inflection point, resulting from years of massive technological advances in processing power, digital storage and digital bandwidth, which necessitates a dramatic change, or transformation, in the people, products, processes and services that drive and support our organizations.
- The rules of business have changed from finding out what your customers want and giving it to them to giving your customers what they want before they even know they want or need it. As examples, Burrus cites two: Apple giving its customers the iPad before they even knew they wanted and Blockbuster asking customers to tell them what they wanted to make their store and shopping experience better. One transformed a market; the other limited a business.
- Transformation is a must-do not a nice-to-do if your organization wants to “survive and thrive.” As Burrus reminds us three things: 1) Transformation will happen, 2) If it can be done, it will be done, and 3) If you don’t do it, someone else will.
When I first saw Burrus’ post on LinkedIn, my team was in the final prep for our Data Protection launch. Stephen Manley and I were mapping out the final parts of his latest blog series The Right Architecture Is Priceless, and I had had just wrapped up production on the EMC Backup and Archive Game Plan eBook, which details the why, the what and the how of backup transformation, including the transformative role and components of a Protection Storage Architecture.
So, I was curious, to say the least, to hear what he had to say about transformation at an organizational level and how it would align with our messaging at an IT and data protection level:
- Data protection has reached a breaking point, resulting from massive data growth, infrastructure complexity, poor visibility and related budgetary issues.
- The rules of data protection have changed from thinking of data protection as a cost center to thinking of it as a strategic investment in your business’s future. Backup, in particular, has transformed from a “low-value, high-cost insurance policy” to a “business accelerator.”
- Backup transformation is a must-do not a nice-to-do if you want to accelerate IT transformation and maximize opportunities.
Looks like we’re in synch. So, what about you? What’s holding you back?
If backup is, be sure to watch the recording of the on-demand webcast of our special event Backup to the Future to learn why backup is now the long pole in the tent of IT innvoation.
The pressure on Asian businesses has never been greater due to fluctuating economies, greater global competition, massive data growth, and the need to comply with complex local and international laws and regulations. Many Asian organizations have long relied on traditional infrastructure such as cheap disk, and tape to manage and protect their data; however, these approaches no longer work due to long backup times, unreliable restorations and ballooning costs.
In a recent study, IDC analyzed a number of companies in Asia Pacific, China and Japan and concluded that unless organizations transform their data protection environments, they will lack the agility and efficiency to compete both locally and internationally. The paper focuses on a sample of companies across Asia, representing a broad range of industries and sizes.
One common finding across all companies was the dramatic reduction in costs and risks by implementing EMC’s Data Protection solutions. In fact, the average savings were $2.6m annually, as summarized in the chart below.
The paper highlights that data protection challenges are just as much a business and trust issue as they are an IT operational problem, and the sooner that companies address these challenges, the sooner they will be out of the pressure cooker and sitting at the dinner table with the Business Managers.