Cloud vs. Evil

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.

By Howard Rubin, Product Marketing Manager, Backup and Recovery Systems

My blog last month entitled Cloud Control to Major Tom talked about the top five reasons enterprise don’t leverage cloud technology.  I focused on one specific reason pertaining to loss of control and visibility as being one of the top five.  This week I’d like to focus on another bullet on that top 5 list:  The belief that cloud computing needs to mature more.  In a publicly available report by Enterprise Strategy Group, 29% of the 256 respondents in their study noted this to be the reason for them not to adopt a cloud strategy.

       Courtesy ISACA.ORG

So exactly what does “mature” mean in this use case?  Are these IT departments waiting for some other IT division or data center location to be the guinea pig?  Perhaps “mature” means they’re waiting for next generation of software and hardware technology that improves upon the imperfections of the current version.   Or maybe they’re just waiting for the cloud providers and market analysts to report double and triple digit growth numbers.  Why make trillions when we could make….billions? But I digress….

The reality is that enterprises are levering cloud technology today to help alleviate their IT pain points.  And those pain points are convincing them to spend to the tune of $110.8 billion on cloud services in 2012 according to a recent Gartner report.   (Dr. Evil might be on to something).

At a high level, let’s take a look at another (top 5) list of reasons why enterprises are looking to leverage cloud service providers for some existing IT processes.   The list includes:

  • Technology infrastructure issues: Can’t afford new hardware or upgrades every year
  • Datacenter issues: Space, cooling, power or remote disaster recovery site
  • Financial issues: CAPEX to OPEX conversion
  • Personnel resource issues: Limited/reduced headcount or technical competence
  • Legal compliance: Support for regulatory and auditing compliances required by the business

So what constitutes market maturity for you?  Why wait for trillion’s when you can solve your pain points today when the industry is already over 100 billion?  Check out EMC’s Velocity Service Providers Trusted Partners who can help adopt a cloud strategy.  You’ll only need one VSPP partner to take that one first step – not a billion.

Perspective Is Everything, Or Is It?

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.

Did you know the movie E.T. was nearly entirely filmed from the eye-level of the children? I didn’t, or at least I don’t recall knowing this; it’s been years since I watched the movie in its entirety.

But what I do remember is being drawn into the story in a way no other film had done before, and I do remember my parents leaving the movie feeling similarly. I just never considered why until this past week.

As it turns out, it has a lot to do with perspective.

By using the filming technique he did (which also meant that adults were seen primarily from the waist down throughout the movie), Spielberg was able to create a very different experience for moviegoers. For adults, it ultimately meant seeing the story not just through the eyes of a child but as a child. Bingo!

Makes me wonder if one of the reasons we have such difficulty keeping New Year’s resolutions is because we often don’t have the right perspective.

Would E.T. have been the same film (enjoying the same level of success) had it been told from the eye-level of an adult? Probably not.

So, in addition to balancing good and bad, focusing on the process not just the end goal, replacing bad habits with better ones and so on, maybe we also need to make sure we have the right perspectives?

Do we really have the perspective of someone who has successfully completed a 15K or dropped 20 pounds? Does your backup team really see backup – the good, the bad and the ugly – from the viewpoint of application or business owners? Again, probably not.

However, if you’re like many folks, you may just be stuck. I’m not sure how much help I can be on the running or weight reduction front, but I do know we can help with the backup perspective.

In this short video, fellow TBW blogger and EMC BRS CTO Stephen Manley explains how backup teams can free themselves — and their businesses — from the grind that’s become daily backup and gain that all-important broader business perspective.

It’s actually Part III of Stephen’s Accelerating Transformation series, but not to worry. I’ll circle back next post and explain why donning a new perspective doesn’t have to meaning losing control. Be sure to check out the video and drop us a note if you’ve got a question.

Looking Back, Planning Ahead

Sherry Davenport

Sherry Davenport

I started in the IT industry over 30 years ago — it sure doesn’t feel like that long! I worked my way through the ranks starting at the old Digital Equipment Corporation in software sales support, sales training, channel training, product management and, ultimately, marketing. My background includes digital imaging, team productivity software, Alta Vista (remember that?), storage management, storage networking and most recently backup and recovery software. While I love my job, I love cooking and wine appreciation even more.

By Sherry Davenport, Senior Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems

It’s time again for annual reviews, joy of joys. They generally (or at least are intended to) lead to reflections, resolutions and new beginnings.  Now, this whole “looking back” thing may sound clichéd, but there’s some real value in doing it – if you’re honest.

From a business perspective and, in particular, as a backup administrator, it’s a good opportunity to consider your successes over the last year. You should take pride in your accomplishments and also take time to think about what could be done to make things even better. But with that comes the charge to determine where you have gaps. And, it’s time to propose what needs to be refreshed, updated, dispensed of, etc. in the areas of equipment, business practices, and/or software.  in other words, you are developing your game plan for 2013.

If you’re like many organizations, you’re probably managing the backup of a complex environment that includes many different client systems, storage systems and protocols, applications, and SLAs.  Many are mission critical so control counts.  A recent study by The InfoPro/451 Group indicated that, while tape as a backup destination is shrinking in usage, it still makes up 50% of total backup used, with snapshots/disk and deduplication making up another 46%. And, the use of hypervisors, such as VMware and Hyper-V, is pervasive; therefore initiatives such as server consolidation and virtualization are still the top drivers for storage growth.

But how does this affect you? Well, as compute environments get more complex, so does the work to attempt to protect them. Having a backup management application that can help you easily manage, monitor, and catalog all of these types of workflows is key to your success.  EMC products, like NetWorker, offer a centralized console that gives you that visibility.  Features such as configuration wizards, pre-configured reports, event-based backups, and integral support for data deduplication all contribute to reducing management complexity.

This month marks the six month birthday for the new NetWorker 8—the timeframe that many organizations wait before considering deployment.  Take a look at the additional features and support available in NetWorker 8.0 Service Pack 1 and join the conversation in the NetWorker Online Community. Feel free to leave comments here as well—we’d love to hear from you!

Word Clouds, Vblocks, and Backup

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).

By Chandra Jacobs, Senior Marketing Associate, EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division

What do Vblock and backup have in common?

To find out, I used a “word cloud” (or “tag cloud”) generator, Infomous—Infomous is a company that actually participated in EMC’s Inaugural Innovation Market in Nov 2012 (check out Sheryl Chamberlain’s blog on innovation at EMC to learn more).  Here is the result of the word cloud focused around Vblock and backup:

Why a word cloud?

A word cloud is essentially a weighted list, but represented visually—the higher the importance of a given word, the larger the font size of that word. This can be taken to an even higher level, searching multiple words at once to see possible connections between them.

In our word cloud example, I did a dual linkage association to see how Vblock and backup are represented in current events (i.e., what’s in the news/what’s being discussed), to look at common terms  (i.e. to get an idea of the importance of terms relative to each other and other terms in the conceptual cluster).

Related terms and concepts are linked together with lines so you can grasp the context of any relevant topic. Additionally, the clouds are organized in groups of related words–this provides you with a quick glimpse of the topics being talked about in the same context (or cloud).

In the case of our word cloud, we are only looking at a single snapshot in time (as of 1130 EST on Jan 22 2013) of what is in the news/”being talked about” at this current moment in relation to our two words. What’s great about word clouds is that they are dynamic and change with time, which make them a great resource for data analytic and data mining. Let’s dig in a little deeper.

But back to our story….What does the word cloud say about Vblock and backup?

When we see the Vblock cloud, what words are the most obvious? VCE, EMC, and infrastructure are all prominently featured, all connecting to the Vblock, all mentioned together at some point in recent news. EMC’s own Chuck Hollis is also associated to this word cloud, which makes sense, since he likes to stay at the center of interesting industry trends like virtualization and convergence ;).

As for the backup cloud, not surprisingly, we see that VMware and backup are being discussed a lot today, and there is some overlap between the two clouds around EMC and data protection, since EMC backup and recovery (Avamar and Data Domain Systems) is part of VCE Vblock System’s Data Protection Suite.

So, this is all good, but our customers need to see more of a connection going forward between the Vblock, VCE, EMC, data protection, and backup (and recovery), which can only be done through customer educationsound products and solutions, and clear marketing. We believe backup and recovery will be an even more important piece of Vblock Data Protection Suite’s strategy, so it will be interesting to see how our word cloud changes over the next 6 months—we anticipate backup and Vblock being more strongly coupled.

To learn more, be sure to register for our live webcast on Backup and Recovery of a Highly Virtualized Environment, on Jan 24, 1100AM EST Iit will also be available after that fact).

Finally, I’d love to see your comments on how YOU use word clouds in IT, in either an infographic, analytics, or FUN way (or all three, because who says infographics and analytics can’t be fun!?).

Tape is Alive? Inconceivable!

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).

To begin each year, Joe Tucci brings 400+ people together for the EMC Leadership Meeting. We spend a little time reflecting on the prior year, but most of it focusing on the future. After that, the Backup and Recovery Systems Division leadership spends another day planning our future. So, imagine my surprise when I saw, on the Backup and Recovery Professionals Group on LinkedIn, a thoughtful discussion about the role of tape in the backup environment. I’ve just spent a week discussing cloud, big data, and the evolution of data protection… and we’re still talking about tape? Inconceivable!

While I appreciate both the maturity of the discussion and the resiliency of tape, it’s a waste of time. Every moment spent talking about tape is a moment not spent discussing the future of data protection – deduplication, snapshots, versioned replication, cloud, ???. The opportunity cost of discussing tape frustrates me.

 Tape is not the answer of the future. It’s increasingly less useful in the present – unless you’re talking about data that you don’t ever intend to actually access again. Here’s the reasoning:

  • Full recovery from a complete server or storage array outage: As capacity increases, the only way to recover the data quickly enough to be useful is to have it online and spinning somewhere (e.g., replication). The issue here isn’t so much disk vs. tape as it is tape-centric backup architectures. If you need to wait until all of the data is restored to a new system (and writing data on the recovering system is usually the bottleneck), you’ve been down too long. Tape doesn’t hit the bar here.
  • Rollback from corruption: If most of the data is still good, but there’s been some corruption (user or system caused), the only way to recover quickly is some sort of changed block rollback (e.g., snapshot/clone rollback, changed block recovery for VMs, etc.). In general tape-centric backup architectures make rollbacks near-impossible.
  • Granular recovery: When it comes to granular recovery, it’s all about getting the right version of your data. In this case, recovery is all about backup – when you can do backup more frequently and store more copies (space-efficiently, of course), you’re more likely to get the version of the data you want. In general, disk-centric architectures that leverage some sort of data optimization (e.g., dedupe, snapshots, clones) enable you to keep more and more frequent backups.
  • Archival recovery: Traditionally, this has been where tape has made its arguments around relevance – long-term, cost-effective, low-power retention. But here’s the problem. In general, we’ve all agreed that backup is non-optimal for data archival. It’s rare that you can track the lifecycle of data (e.g., ‘I want to recover a file from server X, from 12 years ago. Does anybody remember what server the file was on 12 years ago?’), you’re unlikely to have the infrastructure to access it (e.g., ‘Does anybody have a DEC server with application X, version Y?’), and even less likely to manage the tape infrastructure lifecycle to enable the data recovery. As I’ve seen customers go tapeless at multiple companies (as I’ve worked at multiple vendors), they use the transition to disk to re-examine and reduce their retention periods, and deploy a true archival solution.

I think one customer put it best: “I’m legally required to store data for 30 years, but I’m not required by law or business to ever recover it. That data is perfect for tape.”

Do you think we need to spend more time talking about tape? Do you think tape has a bigger role to play today or in the future? If you had new money to spend, would you put it on tape? Am I being overly dismissive? Please weigh in here or on LinkedIn – Backup & Recovery Professionals Group.