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.

 

EMC Elect 2013: A Huge Thank You!

Alex Almeida

Alex Almeida

Technology Evangelist, Data Protection and Availability Division
My passion for technology started at an early age and has never stopped. Today, I find myself immersed in data protection. Yep, I live, breathe and tweet backup, availability and archive. In fact, nothing short of fully understanding how things work will keep me from digging deeper. But when I’m not evangelizing on the benefits of backup or technology in general, I can be spotted at a New England Revolution game, behind the lens of a camera or listening to my favorite albums on vinyl. In addition to blogging for The Protection Continuum, you can find me on the EMC Community Network. Also, I'm a member of EMC Elect 2014, and I'm active in the New England VMware User Group (NEVMUG) and the Virtualization Technology User Group (VTUG). Let's get technical!

Passion. It’s what drives and motivates us to explore new things, drive change, and enjoy a better life.  For some, it’s bridge and canasta. For me, it’s two things: football (the real “football”) and technology.

So, this weekend couldn’t have been better. I spent Sunday morning watching my  beloved Manchester United beat Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League, followed by SL Benfica and FC Porto battling to a draw in the Portuguese Liga. Then, after the matches were over, I did my usual quick Sunday evening glance at email and learned that I had been selected into EMC Elect 13.

Being part of EMC Elect is a huge honor. To be grouped with the likes of many socially engaging industry experts such as: Matt Cowger, and Preston de Guise (BackupBear). Not only is the list of members loaded with technical know-how, but also more importantly it is loaded with passion. The kind of passion that makes us want to write blog posts and inform you and make technology truly a fun and gratifying activity, not just work!

The world of IT can be vastly complex, and it’s my goal to help channel said passion to educate users, to simplify the jargon, and to point out otherwise overlooked but important features all while sometimes providing a lighter side to the day to day grind.

I hope that by spending a little bit of time each day on social channels – either here on The Backup Window, on Twitter or LinkedIn, I’m not only making things less complex but igniting your passion for change.  I am looking to be a source of information for you our readers, don’t hesitate to reach out to me either via the comments on this blog, or via Twitter with your views, questions, insights, etc. This type of interaction is what I hope educates and enlightens myself as well as you folks on the subject matter.

I am incredibly excited to continue to “represent thought leadership in the fields of data center management, cloud computing and big data,” as the EMC Elect charter reads.

Lastly, I also would like to congratulate the other EMCBackup EMC Elect 2103 members:

Mark Twomey – Storagezilla

Dave Robertson – Storageboy

Here is to a fantastic 2013!

VSPEX and Backup — Go Full Speed

Mark Doncov

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.

By Mark Doncov, Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems 

Last week EMC launched VSPEX for Virtualized SharePoint.  (If you’re not familiar with VSPEX see here and here).

I’m often asked if VSPEX includes backup.  The answer is yes, absolutely.

In fact, EMC Backup is part of every VSPEX Proven Infrastructure.

Why?  Simple:  to transform IT, you have to transform backup.

The job is incomplete otherwise.

It’d be like remodeling half your kitchen. Aside from the fact it would look really strange, you’d be limiting what you can do.

Now consider this:

  • Traditional backup can require 5-10x more capacity than the primary storage it’s protecting – with 50x data growth this decade, this squeezes budgets and limits investment.
  • Traditional backup struggles to keep up with this data growth – so backup windows are increasingly missed, putting data at risk.
  • Traditional backup slows to a crawl when protecting highly virtualized servers – causing even more missed windows and greater risk.

If you can’t efficiently and adequately back up your virtual environment (VSPEX or otherwise), you have two choices.

Roll the dice – or hit the brakes and look for a fix.

That’s why VSPEX includes EMC Backup.  So you’re not faced with this dilemma.  The backup solution – the right one – is built-in, tested and proven. 

Architecting Your EMC Backup, Recovery, and Archiving Solutions Comes To the iPad!

Alex Almeida

Alex Almeida

Technology Evangelist, Data Protection and Availability Division
My passion for technology started at an early age and has never stopped. Today, I find myself immersed in data protection. Yep, I live, breathe and tweet backup, availability and archive. In fact, nothing short of fully understanding how things work will keep me from digging deeper. But when I’m not evangelizing on the benefits of backup or technology in general, I can be spotted at a New England Revolution game, behind the lens of a camera or listening to my favorite albums on vinyl. In addition to blogging for The Protection Continuum, you can find me on the EMC Community Network. Also, I'm a member of EMC Elect 2014, and I'm active in the New England VMware User Group (NEVMUG) and the Virtualization Technology User Group (VTUG). Let's get technical!

Look out Ruzzle and Fun Run! Your days at the top of the Free iPad app charts are numbered! There is a new app in town!

Those of you who attended EMC World 2012 and visited the our booth were treated to some pretty state of the art one-on-one consulting on your particular backup, recovery, and archiving questions! We introduced for the first time in EMC’s history a mobile interactive whiteboard. Leveraging simple and powerful Apple technology via the iPad and AppleTV, we were able to dramatically increase the efficiency of conversation between our professionals and customers. At the same time, we introduced a little fun into our IT Transformation discussions!

At EMC we settle for nothing less than the best of breed for everything we do. We approached this mobile app development project with the same central idea in mind. This app needed to be the best, which meant we needed the best and brightest minds in mobile application development working on this. This is why we called in the folks from Raizlabs. Working with them is nothing short of collaborative nirvana!

While we were initially designing an application for use at the conference we quickly started learning how effective this application could also be if it were slightly optimized for everyday use by our sales force, customers, and especially our partners.  With EMC World behind us, we quickly began working to bring this application to the Apple iTunes App Store. It truly deserves to be accessible by not only our internal teams, but also our vast network of many partners and customers who are designing EMC backup solutions for their customers every day!  Today, I am proud to let you know in this post that the EMC Backup Sketchpad is now available to everyone in the App Store and you can download it here for your iPad:

With EMC Backup SketchPad , you can quickly access different pens and colors via a quick finger swipe on the left side of the sketchpad. For a library of icons to choose from, just finger swipe on the right side of the sketchpad in the app, select your desired icon from the menu, and drag and position it on the sketchpad! Don’t necessarily want to start from scratch? Not to worry we have also included a nice selection of pre-drawn templates which you can choose a starting point. Want to share your architecture drawing with the rest of the team? That’s easy as well; email a pdf of the drawing directly from within the app!

Stay tuned on the EMC Backup mobile app front and if you download the app and try it, please rate us and provide your comments directly in the app store so we can continue to incorporate your feedback and improve future revisions!

Five Strategies for Making Resolutions Stick in 2013

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.

Is Backup Transformation one of your 2013 resolutions? Watch the video and read the blog for strategies to improve your chances of success.

According to Jeremy Dean, a research psychologist at University College London, “most resolutions are too vague, too hard and too spontaneous” and that’s why we often struggle to keep them.

However, there are things we can do to improve our chances of success, even two weeks or more into the New Year. Specifically, Dean says five strategies can help:*

  1. Balance good and bad. Be sure to consider obstacles as well as positives.
  2. Focus on process.  Identify the steps you’ll need to take. Don’t just focus on the end goal.
  3. Think “if/then.” Avoid vague resolutions. Link actions to common situations and consequences.
  4. Replace don’t erase. Replace bad habits with better ones. Don’t just terminate them.
  5. Keep on repeating. Practice makes perfect. It’s habit-forming.

If you have been following us on The Backup Window or emc.com/BackupLeader, you’ve heard us echo these same strategies across our pages when we talk about backup transformation:

  1. Balance good and bad. Recognizing that backup is a business bottleneck is a good thing. Deciding you’re going to move to a services-oriented model, even better. But doing so blindly can cost you momentum and dollars.  Continue reading…“Why It’s More than Okay to Say ‘No’.”
  2. Focus on process. Whether you’re looking to shed 20 pounds, run your first 15K or accelerate business with better backup, you’ve got to think about – and detail – the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal. You’ve got to have a plan. Find out more… “What’s Your (Backup) Game Plan?” and “Changing the Game Is A Process.”
  3. Think “if/then.” If you’re goal is backup nirvana, start off with the plan to replace tape systems with disk quarterly to improve backup performance or, as EMC chief oracle architect did, eliminate resource constraints by backing up a database from a storage clone. Find out more…“EMC’s Chief Oracle Architect Speaks Out.”
  4. Replace don’t erase.  Backup transformation isn’t about ripping out architectures or processes. Remember, transformation is all about building a scalable, flexible service offering that delivers what your organization needs when it needs it. Find out more… “Do You Want Chaos with That?
  5. Keep on repeating. Start with one application or one team, see what works and repeat.

If you’ve made a resolution around backup this year or backup transformation is already part of you 2013 plans, let us know how it’s going. What’s working, what’s not? And if you don’t, please watch this short video (link above) in which Stephen Manley explains backup is key to business acceleration. Oh, and be sure to check back, I’ll be sharing parts II and II of this three-part video series in upcoming posts.

* To read the full descriptions of each strategy, click here: .