Storage DNA (and Beer) – Brilliant!

Chandra Jacobs
I love creative and challenging projects in the emerging technology product space. I have a background in tech, innovation, and product development, especially as applied to web and mobile apps in the entrepreneurship arena, but have recently moved into marketing. In my role as a product marketer, I have gravitated toward digital marketing as well as analytics/data mining. It fits well with my techie geek bent as well as my cloud angle on The Backup Window. (Be sure to catch my posts on Innovation Station too!) Outside of work at EMC, I enjoy exploring Boston’s culinary and jazz scene (often in combination), and travel as much as I can (35 countries and counting).

I read an article a few weeks ago in The Economist about test-tube data. It begins in a similar way to most stories we hear in the data and storage industry. Data growth is massive, becoming more and more unwieldy and expensive. IT budgets (and budgets in general) aren’t keeping pace with that growth. We in the industry have read (and lived) that story again and again and know it dearly.(yum)

But this is another story. A story about beer drinking, back-of-the-napkin machinations, and innovation. And a story about drinking and deriving. What happens when you put a couple of research wonks and real-world problems in a pub together? Magic.

In this case, what fell out was the seedling of an idea that data, this data that was growing exponentially and expensively, could be packed up and stored in artificially constructed DNA. Imagine storing data in a condense form factor of 2.2 PB/gram (that’s right, gram).

But wait, there’s more. Because, what else is DNA great at? Replication without error (or at least, with very few copying errors). This data fidelity from the “hard drive to the test tube” is accomplished with great elegance through a ternary encoding schema, chunking out the files into non-overlapping and overlapping segments, and then also baking in parity bits for error-detection.

Ah, but how does one decode the data, you ask? It’s a simple matter of utilizing s standard chemical reaction to generate multiple copies of the chunks and then interleaving them back together. Fun with chemicals, sign me up!

Of course there’s a catch. In this case, it’s the glacial pace at which data can be read back (it took these researchers 2 weeks to reconstruct 5 files). And, the other catch is cost. With this technology in its early stage, the cost/MB stored is around $12,000.

But seriously folks, this is cool stuff. Even as is, DNA-based storage techniques can still be suited  for less intensive archiving scenarios where a medium is required that practically never degrades or needs replacing. The longer you need to archive your data, the more attractive (and practical) this methodology becomes.

Now, imagine what could happen if we put some serious computing power behind this data encoding/decoding problem to speed it up and bring the cost down?

EMC meet DNA? Hmmm…

Backup as a Service: The On-Ramp to Cloud Services

Howard Rubin

Howard Rubin

Consultant Product Marketing Manager, Data Protection and Availability Division
My name is Howard and I’m a marketing guy. There I said it! Admitting to it is the first step right? Truth be known, I started “life” as a phone support guy then got promoted to Sales Engineer due to my good looks. That role dragged on far too long. Hanging out in data centers at 3am installing and troubleshooting ATM and Frame Relay gear got old; just like that technology. When I’m not marketing tech stuff, I’m either playing with my own tech gear at home or travelling to some exotic destination with my incredible wife, Mary. Fifty/Fifty chance it’s a shopping or exotic beach destination next time you get my out-of-office message.

In a recently published white paper by IDC, Program Vice President, Laura DuBois outlines and reviews the challenges IT departments are having with meeting the data backup SLAs required by the business.   Laura discusses how cloud services can fundamentally change the cost model around backup and how enterprises are leveraging these new backup-as-a-service (BaaS) offerings as a means of outsourcing nonstrategic tasks.

For enterprise IT shops considering offloading backup, IDC provides great reading and advice in choosing the right service provider (see EMC’s Velocity Service Provider) and the most appropriate service offering based on your business needs.  If you’re an EMC Velocity Service Provider, not currently offering BaaS services, Laura provides guidance about the different BaaS deployment models and what approach makes the most sense based on current and future service offerings.

Check out the IDC White Paper titled: Backup as a Service:  Approaches and Advantages for Service Providers and End Users.  It’s a great read and offers some good advice.

How to Ensure Data Protection As You Move to the Cloud

Tom Giuliano

Tom Giuliano

Marketer and EMC Data Protection Advisor Expert
I love to listen to customers discuss their data protection challenges, their experiences and their needs, and I’ve had a lot of opportunity to do it. For the past 15 years, I’ve brought network and storage products to market through roles in sales, product management and marketing. When I’m not driving go-to-market initiatives, identifying unique and creative methods to build product awareness or launching products, you’ll likely find me cycling, skiing, boating or running. And, who knows, maybe you’ll hear some of my more interesting experiences in one of my posts from time to time.

According to Mark Prahl, a high-tech business professional who has been talking or writing about products and gadgets for business or personal consumption for some time, data protection needs are more acute for as-a-service cloud models and require new approaches.

Mark Prahl, Managed View

What can you do to ensure data protection as you move to the cloud?

Prahl explains what it means to augment a successful data protection solution and extend it with a new distributed architecture and analysis engine to cloud deployments, without losing any usability benefits (i.e. without making it complex) in his post “EMC Data Protection Advisor For As-A-Service Cloud” on our sister site Managed View.

Click here to read the full post, including Prahl’s take on DPA 6. Then, come back—and let me know what you think. What’s your biggest data protection challenge in moving to the cloud? I want to know.








Did Dinosaurs Like the Taste of Tape Cartridges?

Gene Maxwell

Gene Maxwell

Technical Marketing, Data Protection and Availability Division
I am known by many as the creator of documentation that helps others easily understand technology. This is because I discovered that I myself was a visual learner as I worked in many different IT roles over the years. Prior to my technical marketing role, I was an EMC technical consultant for six years. I also have many years of experience as a customer in IT responsible for data center management & disaster recovery, including backups. My hobbies include building PCs, collecting movies (Casablanca is my favorite), singing and playing my guitar. I have a twin brother who is three minutes older than I am.

Whenever I see physical tape cartridges still being used for backups, I can’t help but think about cavemen and dinosaurs. They have so many things in common:

  • They are both old and outdated (OK, one is a little older than the other)
  • They are problematic (the problem is, what good are they to anyone anymore?)
  • They are undependable (just try and get a caveman to do something for you these days)
  • They are inflexible (what does a Dinosaur do… anything it wants to do!)
  • They are expensive (do you know how much it costs to feed a dinosaur these days?)
  • Nobody wants them anymore (am I right?)
  • They’re extinct (but may not realize it yet)
  • They represent the past, a bygone era that most people have moved beyond

So how does a progressive human fix the age-old problem of doing backups with physical tape?  Go simple, go fast, go tapeless!   Deduplication technology is the enabler to get your backups out of the stone-age.  Deduplicated disk storage backups provide many advantages over physical tape:

  1. Backups are much faster
  2. Backups are far more reliable
  3. Life is simpler eliminating the need to manage thousands of tape cartridges
  4. Restores are easier and will actually work
  5. Reduce backup costs by eliminating maintenance for tape libraries & drives
  6. Reduce valuable data center floor space by eliminating tape libraries & tape storage
  7. Eliminate the costs of tape handling, tape movement, and tape storage
  8. Reduce the risks of tape cartridges being lost or stolen (and expensive fines)
  9. Simplify Disaster Recovery and enable better DR testing (need I go on…)

The decision is yours.   Stone-age or 21st century?   Dinosaurs or Deduplication?  You decide.   If you’re ready to take your backups out of the stone-age, we are ready to help with industry leading backup and recovery solutions.

Because the CIO Said So

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

Times they are a changing, and so are CIOs.

But for the past several years, the focus of most IT organizations across the globe has really been on one thing and one thing only: reducing IT costs. Blame it on the economy, the IT adoption curve or just (bad) habit, but we, as an industry and as consumers of IT, have prioritized short-term cost-savings often at the expense of longer-term business value, and we’ve prioritized instant gratification over strategy and innovation.

And this isn’t good.

However, a recent IDG survey highlights a very different trend taking shape globally ―one that we’ve been talking about here on The Backup Window since last year’s EMC World, or before.

Of the more than 1,500 CIOs and other IT leaders in the U.S. that IDG surveyed for the study, 49% ranked improving IT productivity as their number-one  goal for 2013, followed by better, faster, decision-making; improving service levels; protecting corporate data and increasing agility.

Do I hear cloud?

As for lowering costs – the historical front-runner – it ranked eighth in the survey. Yes, it’s still on the list, and so it should be, but it’s no longer the driving factor, or force, behind many of the decisons CIOs are making and the things IT organizations are doing.

This is huge. Why?

Well, as we’ve discussed on The Backup Window as well as on Backup Game Day I and II, companies with IT organizations that see themselves as change agents (or “brokers of value,” as IDG puts it) have a definite business advantage over companies with IT organizations that see themselves only as task-doers. They think and manage IT resources from a business viewpoint; they think smarter, not just faster.

For these CIOs and organizations, “time to” is a measure of IT efficiency (or productivity). It’s the time it takes to spin up a new business application, analyze a complex data set or expand business operations or customer base, and this has real business value. Stephen Manley explains why in this short video – part II of his three-part Accelerating Transformation series.

Check it out and then let us know what you think. How’s your CIO doing?