The Right Architecture Is Priceless – Final Chapter

Window to bright future
After our Data Protection Launch this summer, somebody asked: “How can you claim to have an open architecture when you still sell hardware appliances?”

Customers fear vendor lock-in. With increasingly rapid technology transitions and “too big to fail” technology companies imploding faster than ever before, nobody wants to compromise their flexibility. That is why, as the world’s largest data protection vendor, we obsess about disrupting ourselves. Wise customers are equally vigilant. Avoiding vendor lock-in is a key value to EMC and our customers.

But it is important to focus on the most critical lock-in points. Backup software, not hardware, is the primary culprit of data protection lock-in. Furthermore, when looking at hardware lock-in, our protection storage is the most open in the industry. Finally, you need an architecture to address all layers of lock-in. That’s why we have the Protection Storage Architecture.

Backup Software – Lock Me Up, Lock Me In

What are the main causes of data protection lock-in?

  • Proprietary data formats – Traditional backup applications store data in a closed, proprietary format. You cannot access your data without the backup application that created it. As the old industry joke goes, “You buy my backup app, I own your data.”
  • Employee expertise Backup applications are complex. They become even more tangled because backup teams write custom scripts to bolt on support for protection workflows and configurations that the backup application does not natively support. Unfortunately, what initially seems like job security quickly becomes a hindrance to career advancement.
  • Closed Ecosystem – To get reasonable performance, the data source (hypervisor, application, primary storage) demands that you to buy all solution components from them. While there are “alternative” protection methods, they make them so slow as to be unusable. This is most prevalent in NAS environments with closed, proprietary replication software.

There is truth to the old saying, “Backup software is sticky.” Even as backup appliances have displaced the entire tape industry, backup software market share has scarcely shifted in the last decade. Meanwhile, the rise of proprietary replication software introduces an even deeper customer lock-in.

In other words, when it comes to lock-in, it’s all about the software.

Protection Storage – What Is Open?

When it comes to lock-in, people often confuse packaging with architecture. They ask, “Isn’t software-defined storage more open than appliances?” The primary value of any storage solution is in its software. With an appliance, you’re buying embedded software like the Data Domain File System. With “software-only” solutions, you’re manually connecting file system and/or object management software running on extra servers to the storage hardware. Regardless of the model, you’re buying into somebody’s storage software and storage hardware.

As with backup software, most storage lock-in comes from the software. Therefore, the first-order decision is to select the most flexible storage software.  In other words, don’t let the packaging distract you from the true discussion of what is open.

What constitutes “open” when it comes to storage software?

Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to think of the worst storage vendor experience you could encounter:

  • Dedicated, single-purpose storage – If the workflow changes, the storage system cannot be used. Within its workflow, it is managed different than every other storage in the environment.
  • Roach Motel – It is virtually impossible to remove the storage. Once data goes in, it is virtually impossible to migrate or remove it.

Now, think about the ideal protection system in this context.

  • Multi-use storage – Your protection storage should support all backup applications, application-direct backups (e.g. databases writing backups directly to the protection storage) and archival (compliant and cost-oriented). It supports storing data in native formats (e.g., VMs as VMs) for backup, instant access disaster recovery and more. As the workloads change, your protection storage software should be a stabilizing anchor on your architecture.
  • Easy to remove – Since most protection storage systems retain backups for 90 days or fewer, customers should be able to quickly transition between protection storage systems (assuming the storage is not directly tied to the protection software). Meanwhile, for the customer who wants to transition more quickly, they need high performance access to enable migrations to happen quickly and efficiently.

Data Domain is simple, multi-use protection storage software packaged as an appliance. Are the other backup appliances or “software-only” protection storage solutions as open? You can re-use the hardware, but what becomes of your software investment? What becomes of your data? Are you just extending the backup software vendor’s total control over your environment?

Protection Storage Architecture – End-To-End Commitment to Open

To transform the protection industry from its monolithic, proprietary heritage, we introduced the Protection Storage Architecture. The modular, open architecture frees customers from vendor lock-in.

  • Protection storage – As discussed above, this is simple, multi-use protection storage that can be easily switched as appropriate. Furthermore, it should also leverage movement techniques (e.g. replication, Data Domain BOOST) to connect on-premise and cloud storage.
  • Data source integration – By integrating with the sources, the protection solution should be able to store data in its native format (e.g. VMs as VMs, not tar images).  Furthermore, the management should extend to the data source’s native UI (e.g. vSphere, Oracle RMAN), so that the protection expertise is not locked with one group.
  • Data management services – Both data and metadata formats should remain open, so that customers can extend their services without being forced to wait for and use ONLY their backup software vendor’s add-on functionality.

With an open, modular architecture, protection can minimize vendor lock-in. They can easily use different protection storage options (on premise or cloud), different management interfaces, and protection software services.

Lock-In Beware

Today customers suffer from backup lock-in caused by closed, monolithic architectures. They are beholden to their backup software vendor, frustrated by the lack of service, but unable to easily move. The answer is the Protection Storage Architecture – a modular architecture that eliminates proprietary data formats, closed ecosystems, and isolated backup teams.

So, how can we claim being committed to an open architecture while we still offer hardware appliances? Because packaging is not architecture.





Stephen Manley

Stephen Manley

CTO, Data Protection and Availability Division
Over the past 15 years at both EMC and NetApp, I have traveled the world, helping solve backup and recovery challenges - one customer at a time (clearly, I need to optimize my travel arrangements!). My professional mission is to transform data protection so that it accelerates customers’ businesses. I have a passion for helping engineers pursue technical career path(without becoming managers), telling stories about life on the road and NDMP (yes, that’s NDMP).

What’s Better? Fast VNX or Fast and Protected VNX?


When I think about the new VNX systems with statistics that tingle the senses and lead the market, I can’t help but draw parallels to Formula One performance racing. It really gets my gear-head juices flowing.

It makes me think about the documentary “Madness on Wheels,” which tells the story of the Class B rally craze in the 1980s. I literally fell in love with the Audi Quattro the instant I saw it bouncing and sliding around the dirt track; the thrill and adrenaline was intoxicating. My love for cars was born.

In the documentary, former Finnish rally driver Juha Kankkunen describes the thirst for more power and massive leaps speed that made the rally courses a hell ride for both drivers and spectators. In 1986, a serious spectator crash at the Rally Portugal and the death of Henri Toivonen at the Tour de Corse led to the end of the racing series. So while performance is unquestionably key, it’s not everything.

Take the Bugatti Veyron. The focus is on its eye-popping top speed of 253 mph and its 0 to 60 time of 2.45 sec. Or the Porsche 991. What’s got us all talking is the impressive .02 seconds it takes to change gears with its PDK gearbox.What doesn’t get as much play is the massive advancement put into safety. Think about this: The Veyron at top speed travels one and a quarter football fields every second and would take you a quarter of a kilometer to arrest from the top speed.

The fact is stuff happens and in motors sports there will always be accidents. The same goes for any sport. Take bikes. There two types of bikers: ones who have fallen off and ones who will fall off.

Formula One is no exception where a fantastic car without a fantastic driver won’t get the job done. Similarly, a fantastic car without fantastic safety precautions won’t protect the car—and importantly—the driver when the inevitable happens. Just look at some of the safety enhancements the Formula One governing body has phased in over the years:

1950s Brakes

1960s Rollover bars, double fire extinguishers

1970s Cockpit redesign for 5-second rescue, headrests and rear headlights, driver medical tests, fireproof clothing

1980s Repositioned fuel tank behind engine and driver, crash tests

1990s Detachable steering wheels, head protection material density increased 4 times, lateral crash tests introduced

2000  Higher impact speeds for crash tests

2002  Larger rear light size

2005  Stricter driver helmet standards

2006  Higher (still) impacts speeds for crash tests

2010  Double diffusers prohibited (to reduce speed of cars)

2010  Rearview mirror placement (for maximum visibility)

2010  Zylon strip on helmet (to reinforce weakest points)

This list isn’t exhaustive but it does illustrate a couple of things:

  • Driver safety is a major concern.
  • The faster the cars go, the more attention the sport gets and the greater the focus on safety.

Now, let’s assume VNX is the car and the driver is the data. You’re going to need a robust data protection strategy to ensure business continuity, data integrity and the ability to restore “when” the unmentionable happens:

  • Hardened helmet: try a PBBA; better still use THE PBBA: Data Domain
  • Flexible cockpit: “in place” shelf upgrades
  • Advanced rearview mirrors and tail lights: the Data Protection Suite
  • Fire-retardant suits and pit crew: seamless data replication
  • Multi-function steering: integration with NDMP, Boost, snapshot management
  • Impact testing: Data Invulnerability architecture

And, yes, I could keep going… but you get the idea.

So, this is why the VNX got my blogger juices flowing, why I am super excited about the new VNX and why I’m even more excited about VNX + EMC Backup. We’re the Yin to the EMC and VNX Yang.

Be safe out there!

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

The Path to the Cloud Includes Backup

As VMworld 2013 nears to a close, your head is probably spinning with new knowledge about the cloud and cloud infrastructures. How could it not, right?

And, hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the EMC cloud story, the three paths we offer—build your own, VSPEX and VCE Vblock Systems— and why backup is vital to all three.

3 paths to the cloud

If you deploy cloud infrastructure without thinking about backup, you’ll face some unwanted challenges. Not only is traditional backup struggling under the pressures of data growth but virtualization is stressing it too.

Left unchanged, backup can have a domino effect with your organization: Data owners (e.g., the storage, VM and app owners), seeing the old backup ways are breaking down even faster than before, will find solutions on their own. Soon, you’ll have protection silos and an “accidental” backup architecture for your new cloud environment. That means cost, complexity and risk—and that’s just what you’re working to eliminate! Forget about business acceleration.

A better approach is to address protection at the start. Because backup is built into both Vblock Systems and  VSPEX, your organization gets the performance and visibility it needs IT-wide. This eliminates silos and accidental architectures, and it will allow you to scale efficiently and simply as you grow.

So as you consider your next cloud moves, don’t forget backup. If you go with one of EMC’s three paths, you won’t.  Best of all, with EMC you’ll be able to defy one of the most common conventions in IT today– broken backup.

Mark Doncov
I’ve spent most of the seven years I’ve been at EMC on backup. Currently, I work on category and solution marketing initiatives in EMC’s Backup Recovery Systems division. In short, this means I focus on the “why” for EMC Backup, not the “what”; I leave the bits and bytes to the product teams. Over the years, I’ve seen big changes in the backup world. I will be looking at these – and the even bigger ones that lie ahead - here on The Backup Window and other social channels.

Culling Your eDiscovery Costs

According to an informal recent survey, 79% of legal departments are performing their own eDiscovery collections.  Although that number is probably lower in the real world (the poll measured only those attending a special Law Department Roundtable at ILTA), it is an encouraging development.  Taking charge of eDiscovery collections can cut cost and risk, in addition to delivering better overall insight into the underlying litigation matter.

What about the rest of the eDiscovery steps in the EDRM — are those being performed in-house or outside?  The same poll revealed that only 31% did any culling before the data left the organization.  This seems like a missed opportunity since so much of the expense in the eDiscovery process – over 70% according to one survey — comes during the Review phase, and culled data won’t need to be reviewed.

So if you’re looking to cut some additional costs from your eDiscovery process, consider a few simple culling techniques:

  • Remove clearly extraneous email, such as content from,, etc.  In the right case, you might even be able to limit email further to just one external domain (i.e. the other party in the litigation matter);
  • Determine whether you can bound the information by date range.  In other words, is information before or after a certain date not likely to be relevant based upon the facts of the case;
  • If you are collecting “everything” from laptops, desktops and file systems, are there file types that can safely be culled — such as log files, videos, photos, music collections and executable files?  Some of these could be relevant in the right case so check to be sure;
  • De-duplicate!  This is both easier and more difficult than you might think!  Be sure that you understand the basis on which you are culling duplicative content.

Most cases will present you with opportunities to cull collected data before sending it outside for further work.  Having the right tools in place and adding a few steps to your eDiscovery workflow can help to uncover significant savings.

Jim Shook

Jim Shook

Director, eDiscovery and Compliance Field Practice, Data Protection and Availability Division
I am a long-time “lawyer/technlogist”, having learned assembly language on a TRS-80 at age 12 and later a degree in Computer Science. But the law always fascinated me, and after being a litigator and general counsel for over 10 years, the challenges that technology brought to the law and compliance let me combine my favorite pursuits. I spend my days helping EMC’s customers understand their legal and compliance obligations, and then how to apply technology and best practices to meet them.

Live from VMworld 2013! Superior VMware Backup and Recovery, Powered by Intel and EMC

Phil George at Intel - VMworld

The most pervasive trends in the market related to the data center and backup include:

  1. Data growth … especially redundant data.
  2. Security – stronger network protection and better data protection
  3. Tougher SLAs being required – much shorter RTO since the pace of business requires much faster recovery
  4. The need for more system performance … thank you Intel.
  5. Better value => same budget for more capacity and performance.


EMC Backup Recovery Systems is addressing these challenges in 4 areas:

  1. SDDC –At the foundation of the SDDC is the automation that is needed within each of the technology areas (server, storage, network, data protection and security). By leveraging tools that not only provide granular management, but also can integrate with the virtualization platform, IT groups can begin to deliver more agile operations and automate repetitive tasks. We leverage the Cloud Operations functionality that is available with the virtualization platform. This will treat the infrastructure as pools of resources, allowing IT to manage demand and performance in a more cost-effective, flexible way.
  2. MCA – Mission Critical Applications are moving to virtualized platforms thanks to the performance delivered by Intel-based computing, and EMC-based storage. Pervasive applications such as Microsoft SQL and Oracle are growing in capabilities, and in-turn the size and number of databases are growing exponentially. Now that they are working in a cloud infrastructure you have backup and recovery challenges that can only be met with optimized solutions.  EMC has become the largest data protection company in the industry because we address the challenges, deliver the highest performance, and provide better visibility and control for application owners, VMware administrators and the backup manager.
  3. EUC – End User Computing, Virtual Desktop Initiatives, Business Process Desktops … there seems to be many names for the infrastructure that supports a virtual desktop.  Just as companies have seen numerous benefits after moving from physical servers to virtual servers, they are now moving to virtual desktops to gain similar benefits.  Of course traditional backup and recovery will not scale with this environment.  EMC first introduced NDMP Acceleration in 2006 and continues to be the leader for NAS Server backup – since NAS storage is often the basis for virtual desktop environment.  Now, what is one of the most important requirements asked for by end-users?  Really fast recoveries – or better yet- self-service recovery so they don’t have to wait for the IT staff. EMC provides an optimized business process desktop backup and recovery solution with end-user self-service recovery.
  4. Trusted IT - Trust is a key pillar of the EMC Cloud Infrastructure strategy that enables customers to take full advantage of the new opportunities for application and infrastructure. Trusted IT requires Continuous Availability, Integrated Backup and Recovery, and Advanced Security to take full advantage of new operational models. We see data protection as a continuum, where the foundation is backup and recovery optimized for VMware, and applies to 100% of your data. Now select your most critical applications and data and add the next layer of protection with continuous data protection. Finally, you can add in the technology for continuous data availability to avoid any disruption in the event of a disaster.
Phil George

Phil George

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Data Protection and Availability Division at EMC
Working with customers and partners (like VMware) to develop leading backup solutions makes every day very interesting; helping them optimize their backup architectures for virtualized environments is what really energizes me. Over the past 25 years, I’ve held senior engineering, marketing and sales roles within the technical software industry. This gives me a good vantage point to recognize technical challenges, see emerging trends and propose new solutions. I hold a BSEE from Cornell University and a Masters in Computer Engineering from Boston University. I currently reside with my wife and two children in Massachusetts.