Can You See Azure Clouds on a Clear Day?

Azure CloudYou would not see them, but they are there. This is exactly how you would like your private cloud to operate – unobtrusively. The recent Microsoft announcements regarding the release of Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure Pack got me thinking. How would you comprehensively protect your Microsoft -based private cloud environment? I did not need to look far to find so MANY cool features and benefits from the EMC Data Protection Suite, and how it is optimized for Microsoft applications, Hyper-V and Windows Azure.  Thus, back by popular demand (may just be the voices in my head),

Here are my top 8 reasons why

EMC DataProtection Suite is best for Microsoft

# 1 Centralized Protection for All Microsoft Applications

EMC provides fully featured data protection for Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint, and Hyper-V —leveraging Microsoft standards such as the VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) framework. Now you can use industry-leading deduplication—including Data Domain Boost software—to help protect your Microsoft data, all managed seamlessly by the Data Protection Suite.

Centralized Protection for All Microsoft Applications

# 2 Comprehensive Windows Protection

EMC Data Protection provides the industry’s top protection of Windows and Windows Server. This support is fully integrated with Data Domain systems using Client Direct and DD Boost – providing the industry’s leading deduplication. Forever incremental Windows file system backups, Windows block based backup, and optimized backups for Windows Server 2012 deduplicated volumes take backups to new levels of performance and scalability.  EMC Data Protection also offers integrated Windows Bare Metal Recovery (BMR), including from physical to virtual environments, to speed Windows server recoveries when disasters strike.

Comprehensive Windows Protection

# 3 Comprehensive Exchange Protection

Supporting the latest versions of Exchange Server 2007, 2010 and 2013, the Data Protection Suite uses the Exchange VSS writer, so you can complete full storage group, database availability group or database backups. EMC Data Protection Suite provides Exchange Federated backups that dynamically adapt to changes in the Exchange DAG environment and always backup passive databases, resulting in no backup impact to mail operations. Both Avamar and NetWorker provide multi-stream backups to Data Domain systems and take performance to the next level. Believe me – it’s fast! But we all know what’s most important … recovery! Exchange Granular Level Recovery (GLR) allows virtually mounting and browsing of Exchange database savesets for mailbox level recoveries in minutes.

Comprehensive Exchange Protection

# 4 Optimized SQL Server Protection

Attention SQL DBAs … you get better visibility and control of your backups with the Data Protection Suite, and a variety of advanced recovery features. Plus, through integration to the SQL Server Management Studio, you can set priorities for Database Availability Groups. Now SQL database admins have better visibility and control of their SQL Server environment. And backups work on passive databases, thus removing any impact to the active database

Optimized SQL Server Protection

# 5 Full Range of SharePoint Protection

Start with easy setup through wizards that guide you through backup scheduling. For large SharePoint deployments, EMC provides VSS Federated backup – synchronizing across all servers in the farm and leverages variable-length deduplication for the highest efficiencies. The SharePoint VSS interface provides information about a SharePoint farm (including the servers in the farm, and where the configuration, content and search databases, and files are located), thus enabling comprehensive recovery. With SharePoint GLR, backups for entire SharePoint farms can be mounted in seconds to allow data recovery by the SharePoint application owners.

Full Range of SharePoint Protection

# 6 Comprehensive Hyper-V Protection for Microsoft-based Private Clouds

EMC Data Protection Suite provides a full range of backup and recovery services for Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2.

Comprehensive Hyper-V Protection for Microsoft-based Private Clouds

# 7 Leading support for Hyper-V Cluster Shared Volumes

There is full support for stand-alone Hyper-V servers and also Hyper-V servers in a cluster using Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs). Support for Hyper-V clusters is ‘federated’, in that backup schedules are set for the entire Hyper-V cluster and the Data Protection Suite will automatically find VMs wherever they are located. We all know they do tend to move around. Hyper-V Proxy Backup means the virtualization administrator can choose which nodes in the Hyper-V cluster are used for backup, which means the performance of the Hyper-V servers hosting virtual machines are not impacted by backup. Our new support for multiple Hyper-V proxies means additional scalability for large Hyper-V deployments. Lastly, Hyper-V GLR means VM backups can be mounted in seconds to allow for file-level recoveries from image backups.  MUST HAVES for Microsoft-based private clouds!

 Leading support for Hyper-V Cluster Shared Volumes

Watch the Whiteboard Video to learn more about Hyper-V Proxies.

# 8 Flexible Recovery

EMC Data Protection Suite provides the ability to recover complete virtual machines to the same Hyper-V Server, an alternate Hyper-V Server, or just recover the virtual machine files to allow the user to manually provision a VM. In the case of a DR recovery of the complete Hyper-V Server, the Data Protection Suite will also recover the Hyper-V Server configuration database files. “Now that was easy.”

Flexible Recovery

EMC and Microsoft have teamed together for more than 15 years to bring our mutual customers a complete, strategic solution that streamlines data protection. We are committed to excellence. I am sure you will see that our alliance continues to be a “suite” relationship … I couldn’t resist ;- )

 Data Protection Suite Top 10 List for Microsoft

Well there you have it, My Top 8 reasons why EMC Data Protection is best for Microsoft  – clear as azure clouds on a clear day. Please visit for more information, and be sure to contact EMC Backup Recovery Systems Specialists.

Follow me on Twitter (@vPhilGeorge) … and let me know your favorite(s) from the list above.

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.

EMCBackup Falls Forward with Microsoft

VTUG Panoramic

Daylight savings is upon us and we are preparing to “fall back” in a few weeks, the VTUG is helping us “fall forward” at Gillette Stadium towards next-generation virtualization technologies.

Dan Stolts kicked off the first keynote for the day with a talk on the new Windows Server , which is the heart of the Cloud OS. You can check out his blog here. Kudos also to Sean Thulin and Luigi Danakos for their great photos around the event – you can check out the full album here.

Dan Stolts Presents at VTUG

Dan Stolts Presents at VTUG

With Microsoft’s latest release of Windows Server 2012 R2, unveiled at the keynote during the event, all businesses now have access to an enterprise-class cloud platform.

Here are some of the highlights.

  1. Powerful Cloud computing revolving around:
    • New social and app patterns
    • Consumerization of IT
    • Data explosion
  2. Data center transformation with the Cloud OS – a modern platform for the world’s apps with Windows Azure:
    • High performance storage on industry standard hardware
    • Software defined networking: Hyper-V network virtualization with multi-tenant, site to site gateway network QoS
    • Multi tenancy environments with isolation
    • Policy based automation
    • Application and web
  3. Opportunities with Microsoft Data center solutions:
    • Lower infrastructure costs and OPEX savings from increased operational efficiencies
    • Support for modern self-service applications and automation of repeatable tasks
    • High-level of cross platform interoperability
  4. And of course…Server virtualization. Microsoft has a new version of Hyper-v packed with new technology enabling scalability and performance.

Microsoft Server 2012 R2

These new capabilities will also help you with:

Workload mobility benefits

  • Increase flexibility of virtual machine placement
  • Increase administrator efficiency
  • Reduce downtime for migrations across cluster boundaries

Dynamic Memory Benefits

  • Higher consolidation numbers
  • Improved reliability of Hyper-V operations
  • Ability to increase maximum memory configuration with nominal downtime

Storage Benefits

  • High performance storage on industry standard hardware
  • Continuous application availability and robust recovery
  • SMB transparent failover for <25 ms failover time
  • Fine-grained per share SMB scale-out

You may be wondering…”all these Microsoft cloud capabilities are great, but will my EMC products still be able to protect them?” The answer may be closer than you think ;)

Data Protection Suite and Microsoft Azure

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).

What Is “IT Productivity”?


As a blogger, I do a lot of reading, or maybe ‘skimming’ is a better word, to find my next topic or  prep for my next post.

Last week, TechTarget’s “Latest Technology News and Expert Advice” email caught my attention; it included a link to the definition of ‘IT productivity.’

Curious, I clicked on the link and was directed to and the following definition:

“IT productivity is a reference to the relationship between an organization’s technology investments and its corresponding efficiency gains, or return on investment.

With capital and labor often being scarce resources, it’s important to maximize their impact as a driving factor in IT productivity. Data that reflects IT productivity can be measured and quantified to identify where IT systems exert their greatest leverage; that data is then directly linked to an organization’s resulting profits. The CIO is generally responsible for determining and promoting the business value of the IT department, pushing for improvements and boosting IT productivity.

IT productivity should enhance an organization’s growth and promote economic well-being. Investments that can contribute to IT productivity gains include hardwaresoftware and expansion of the labor force.”

Three things immediately struck me:

  1. That’s there’s even a need to define ‘IT productivity’—at least at such a high level. Qualify and quantify  it. Yes. But define it? I’m not so sure. Then again, it would be good to get IT and business leaders to agree on a single definition. Bridge the gap a bit, perhaps.
  2. The definition waffles between a traditional  (i.e., where productivity is measured in IT efficiency and ROI terms) and more modern (i.e., where productivity is calculated in business terms, such as increased business efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, increased business innovation, and better and faster business process execution) view of IT today. 
  3. IT productivity gains are just as much today about the people, process and priorities organizations set as they are about the hardware, software and number of people in which they invest. Put another way, all the great technology in the world is only as good as the people and the processes you have in place to support and leverage it. Similarly, adding people to your IT roster doesn’t necessarily equate to net gain in productivity. Remember, as Guy has blogged: It’s who you hire, how they think and what they do that’s ultimately important to your business.

Could be that the definition of ‘IT Productivity’ is in a state of transition, or transformation, too. 

Things to ponder…

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division at EMC Corporation
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.

Software-Defined Storage, SLOs, and the Protection Storage Architecture — The Story Continues, Part I

Window to future

“Software-defined [fill in the blank]” has already made a huge industry impact. Admittedly, there’s a lot of buzz around the term, but it’s no small feat to triumph over “big data” so quickly. And as with many over-hyped terms, there is some real substantive change behind it. So, overlooking the obvious cynical jokes (e.g., thank goodness we don’t need that pesky hardware to store data anymore!) what will software-defined storage mean to data protection and the teams that provide it?

Software-Defined Storage—It’s about SLOs

Software-defined storage (SDS) is about delivering service levels to your applications with your storage assets (compute and media).

Too often, people assume  SDS means that it’s finally time to build a storage system out of software to run on commodity hardware. They’re about 15 years too late; it’s already happened. What makes a Data Domain different from a VMAX? The software. So, if so much of the value in storage has already moved to software, why the noise about software-defined storage? One word… simplicity.

Managing storage environments is excruciating. Each type of array has a unique set of functionality—a storage personality—that must be managed differently and on dedicated islands of hardware.

Customers like the distinct functionality (e.g., Data Domain’s space optimization and data durability, VMAX’s predictable performance and availability, Isilon’s scale) but hate the operational complexity. In some cases, operational simplicity wins and customers select a one-size-fits-all “good enough” storage solution. In other cases, they grind through the complexity. In either case, they have to settle.

Software-defined storage promises to simplify storage management by delivering service level objectives across the various storage systems. Instead of having to be an expert on the intricacies of the VMAX, VNX, and Isilon—imagine a software layer that selects and configures the appropriate storage personality for your workload.

That’s why software-defined storage is so exciting—you can have your cake (all the unique storage functionality) and eat it too (none of the agonizing management complexity). While most customers immediately focus on service levels objectives like response time, throughput, and availability, that’s not where you’ll find the maximum value in software-defined storage. It’s in protection. And it can help you achieve a whole new level of IT productivity.

Software-Defined Storage—It’s about Protection SLOs

Protection has created the greatest amount of complexity in storage environments. While each storage array has a different personality, each also has a well-established set of performance and availability capabilities. In other words, most people know the difference between a VMAX and an Isilon. However, each array offers multiple native protection methods (e.g., SRDF, TimeFinder clones, RecoverPoint) in addition to traditional (e.g. backup client) and next-generation (hypervisor or application-level) backup techniques. The complexity multiplier is staggering. If storage management is excruciating, protection management is soul crushing; it’s impossible to make the right choice.

How can software-defined storage address the protection management challenges?

  • First, customers need to extend their SLO expectations to include Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Recovery Time Objective (RTO), retention, and recovery resiliency (e.g., geography, number of copies, etc.).
  • Second, they need to select a protection storage personality that integrates with the data movement and control mechanisms from their key data sources (e.g., primary storage).
  • Third, they need to connect the protection movement to the application.
  • Finally, they need to demand data management software that can span all the different protection mechanisms. If this sounds familiar… it should. The protection storage architecture recognizes that in the “software-defined” world, storage will take a much more prominent role in protection than it has.

The ultimate goal for software-defined storage is to enable a customer to provision protected storage to meet their SLOs.

The Future Won’t Look Like the Past

While the software-defined storage battles currently are more sound and fury than substance (e.g., a “one-size-fits-all” storage OS is “software defined” in the same way that Michael Bay’s films are “diverse”). Ignore the petty debates and focus on the substance—the storage market has become a breakneck race to see who can deliver SLO-based storage provisioning and protection.

Software-defined storage will have profound implications on the roles of the backup and storage administrators and how companies build (and purchase) protection solutions, and it lays the groundwork for the next massive shift in our industry—from data protection to data management. If you thought my last series was long… wait until you see this one.

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).

Chicago Was Cold but EMC Forum Was Hot!

Show is Cold Too, just like ChicagoOctober 23rd was very cold in Chicago, almost 20 degrees below normal.  But at the Westin Hotel near O’Hare Airport things were hot with nearly 600 customers attending the EMC Forum Chicago event.  In 2013 there have been 55 different EMC Forum events happening across the country providing information about EMC’s exciting solutions portfolio helping thousands of existing and potential EMC customers better understand how to lead their own transformation.

The event was kicked off by Steve Crowe, the Central Division Senior VP, with the keynote address given by Jon Peirce, SVP, IT Private Cloud Infrastructure Services sharing the different ways that EMC is leveraging its own solutions to transform EMC into a more efficient organization. Following the keynote, there were 5 different tracks including 20 different sessions to choose from on topics that ranged from cloud transformation, backup recovery and archive, converged infrastructure with Vblock, VIPR, to Big Data.  There were also 14 sponsor booths where folks could stop and talk about specific products and solutions. When I was a customer, I loved to attend these events to get the latest information on all things EMC.

I was lucky enough to be the presenter of “Changing the Game with EMC Backup and Recovery” for BRS.   My session was full with even some attendees standing in the back which tells me there are still lots of folks out there struggling with backup and archive. I talked about how IT organizations that don’t focus enough on servicing the needs of their business units can create an accidental architecture which can be very inefficient, expensive, hard to manage, and not be as scalable as it needs to be. I provided an overview on how EMC’s data protection solutions for backup and archive can provide real value for their transformation journey.  I also provided an update on our most recent launch for Data Domain, Avamar, and NetWorker.

I believe there is only 1 EMC Forum event left in 2013 (30 Oct is Dallas, where you can also say “hi
to EMCBackup) – but if you get the chance to attend EMC Forum next year, I highly recommend it.  It was fun and very informative.  In Chicago, EMC Forum was hot, and there was a real buzz in the air!

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.