Converged Infrastructure…Is Only As Good As Your Converged 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

We all have been following the trends over the last ten years towards a converged infrastructure, and the many features and benefits pertaining to it. According to Wikipedia, converged infrastructure can serve as an enabling platform for private and public cloud computing services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS),Software as a Service(SaaS), and Backup as a Service (BaaS) offerings. And according to Wikibon, by 2017 2/3 of IT infrastructure will be deployed through converged offerings. Check out the below Wikibon infographic for a brief overview of converged infrastructure and the key companies involved in this market:

What is the Enterprise Stack?
Via: What is the Enterprise Stack?

Capabilities such as these enable us to pool IT resources, to automate resource provisioning and to scale up and down capacity quickly to meet the needs of dynamic computing workloads. By moving towards a converged infrastructure, we empower application owners and end-users to dynamically optimize environment resources and improve performance. The benefits are clear.

But do we typically think of backup and recovery as a core part of convergence? We don’t, but we should.

Both Wikibon and Forrester define convergence as ”an integrated set of compute, storage, and networking components,” but they have not included backup and recovery, which is proving to be a critical must-have technology in this stack.

While backup can be lumped into the “server” genre, since cloud backup implies backing up to remote cloud-based backup servers, it shouldn’t be. By lumping it into a generic overarching category we trivialize and minimize its importance in the grand scheme of what we’re trying to accomplish in the first place with converged infrastructure.

What good is a converged infrastructure when an application gets corrupted and can’t be recovered? Or when hardware fails? Your converged infrastructure is only as good as your converged backup.

Consider the following statement by William “BJ” Jenkins, Former President, Backup and Recovery Systems Division, EMC:

“As enterprises transform their data centers using converged infrastructure systems, new requirements arise for advanced data protection solutions that provide high performance, tight integration and simplified management. VCE has chosen to integrate Avamar and Data Domain into its Vblock systems, enabling optimized VMware backup and recovery that provides unmatched performance, reliability and scale to meet the demands of a highly virtualized environment.”

And that’s exactly why we’re recommending setting up a Data Protection environment for your Vblock System environment right from the beginning. The strength of your converged infrastructure lies in your ability to protect it.

Cloud Control to Major Tom

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

For any enterprise to consider the outsourcing of IT operations to the cloud, the organizational and operational benefits have to be financially vetted. Handing over long-standing IT business practices can cause angst and concern all the way up the IT food chain. Some of the most cited reasons that organizations shy away from public cloud adoption include:

  • Data privacy concerns
  • Belief that cloud computing needs to mature more
  • Performance concerns
  • Regulatory or compliance concerns
  • Loss of control and visibility

The last bullet, loss of control and visibility, is key to helping alleviate the concern with cloud computing.  With the right service portal features, proper education, and customer validations, cloud service providers can overcome the real and the perceived barriers.   A common method of initiating cloud computing for organizations that have concerns is by using it to augment their existing computing environments.  Enterprises may start by offloading certain applications to an as-a-service (aaS) model (such as Backup as a service), or by experimenting with adding compute or storage capacity in the cloud instead of buying additional on-site equipment.  When delivered along with impactful financial reporting and a user-friendly self-service portal, IT organizations will likely attain a comfort level before committing wholeheartedly to a larger cloud-based deployment.

What are your cloud hesitations or misgivings?  Is your data too big to backup?  What will it take for you to move part or all of your process to the cloud?  Team up with an EMC trusted cloud partner and take control of your journey.

Don’t Listen to Me – I’m Biased. Listen to Our Customers!

Phil George

Phil George

Avamar/VMware Guru, Data Protection and Availability Division
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.

By Phil George, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Avamar

Don’t Listen to Me – I’m Biased. Listen to Our Customers!

Customers Love EMC Avamar and They’re Talking About It…

Faster VMware Backups and Recoveries, $avings, Scalability and So Much More

Backup and recovery is a must-have technology and is often the unsung hero for saving a business by recovering critical documents and databases.  The fundamental requirements are reliability and performance.  We want to know that our backups always complete successfully and that we can always recover reliably.

Of course, we need high performance for both the backup and (even more so) for the recovery.  Now, extend these requirements into a dynamic highly virtualized environment with many workloads such as databases, file systems and applications, and now you are challenged to meet your SLAs.

As virtualization continues to dominate IT transformation, EMC Avamar continues to be the leading backup and recovery solution optimized for VMware environments. I’m biased – I know it.  I love this stuff. So don’t listen to me ramble on, listen to our customers.  EMC regularly places customer success stories into our resource library. Take a moment to read a few of these stories and see which one relates to you.

In the EMC newsroom is a press release featuring Cal-Israel Credit Card Ltd, St. Charles Health System and Teklinks. Read what these customers had to say about using Avamar for VMware backup and recovery.

Cal-Israel has 1,000 virtual machines protected by Avamar where they get a 97% deduplication rate, daily full backups (typically under 4 hours) and restores in minutes. St. Charles Health System uses Avamar for their VMware environment and reduced backup time by 3x. They estimate a $130K yearly savings. Teklinks, a leading IT service provider, is handling 1,000 daily backups to Avamar with just one administrator.

Companies of every size and in every industry use Avamar and they love it.  Here are the hyperlinks for Cal-Israel, St. Charles Health System and Teklinks. so you can read more about their successes.

Yearly customer surveys show they would all purchase again and recommend to a friend.  They often wonder why they stuck with their older traditional backup solution and all the workarounds needed.

As I started this BLOG off … don’t listen to me, listen to our customers.  Here’s a video of Mike Chrystal, Senior Technical Specialist of Storage and Servers at St. Charles Health System:

Click on the photo to play the video or click on this URL:

http://www.emc.com/collateral/demos/microsites/mediaplayer-video/st-charles-health-system-emc-avamar-data-domain.htm

What’s Your Digital Universe Readiness Index?

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.

The new IDC Digital Universe study is out, and the numbers are big, real big!

With a projected digital universe of 40 trillion gigabytes of data by the year 2020, organizations can expect to face some great rewards —and challenges — in coming months.

How your IT organization prepares for these changes — the data it creates, consumes and analyzes; the tools and technologies it invests in; the processes it establishes and the relationships it builds with internal and business teams — will be critical. In fact, for many organizations, the prosperity and longevity of its business will depend on its IT department’s ability to transform itself.

So, as we wrap up 2012 and look to the New Year, I encourage you to watch this short IDC video in which IDC analysts John Gantz and David Reinsel discuss the pressures and opportunities the Digital Universe presents and start thinking about your “Digital Universe Readiness Index.”

How fit is your organization? How competitive is your business? What’s holding you back? What’s your fitness plan? And let’s chat in 2013, if not before. Happy holidays!

Making Your List and Checking It Twice

Deanna Hoover

Deanna Hoover

I spent most of my career (25+ years) as a systems administrator with responsibilities for storage architecture. But after many years of supporting production environments and becoming burned out by the 7x24 on-call schedule, I made the move into presales and then technical marketing. Life is good. I am able to leverage my customer and sales experience, by helping my team understand the customer’s perspective and challenges. If you have questions, ask them here on or on EMC NetWorker Online Commnity. I'd love to chat! My life away from work consists of playing in the great outdoors - I am an adrenaline junky, triathlete, mountaineer and techno-girl.

By Deanna Hoover, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems

Making your list and checking it twice.  It’s that time of year again – where does the time go?

A friend and I were talking and the conversation ended up being that her husband always buys her things he thinks she needs, like a vacuum cleaner.  Not exactly on her top 5 list of what she wants for Christmas.

Do you make an assumption on what to buy for gifts or do you do inventory first (which is probably a good idea)?

How many times have you found that your company owns more than one software package that performs nearly the same function?

I often wonder, for example, how many NetWorker customers are not aware of all the features available to them in the modules that they already own.

Case and point is the NetWorker Module for Databases and Applications (NMDA) and SAP (NMSAP). These modules have many features – including high performance, scalability, the ability to be highly configurable and customizable for your environment, a zero-install do-everything-from-anywhere backup configuration wizard, Disk Array and snapshot integration, and full platform coverage. The database support is also robust:  Lotus, DB2, SQL, Informix, and Oracle.

Read on, because I’m quite sure you will learn of at least one feature in NMDA/NMSAP that you are not aware exists and that will bring value, while allowing you to eliminate at least some duplication of effort.

  1. The NetWorker modules  support Oracle Flash Recovery Area (FRA). For those of you new to FRA, Oracle 10g release 1 and later provides the ability to backup to, and recover from, a flash recovery area – this is a special disk area that is managed by Oracle and is used to minimize recovery time. The value that NetWorker brings is being able to treat the FRA as an alternative backup source, rather than directing backup I/O workloads to the production database volumes if the administrator so chooses.
  2. Event based backups. Have you ever wanted to perform a backup based on a critical event rather than being forced to stick to the schedule, or start a backup manually?  NMDA/NMSAP support event-based and scheduled backups. Let me give you an example to help explain the value of event based (also called probe-based backups). Suppose your database admin and/or backup admins are on vacation.  Something goes wrong and the backups don’t run for a few days. You can create a backup policy based on an event that states a backup should run if a regularly scheduled backup has not been successful in a specified number of days.  It’s great to know that you can better guarantee the integrity of your backups in this manner.
  3. Configuration Wizard. What happens when a new critical database or application is added, and the admin is not in the office so therefore does not have the software loaded on his/her laptop?   NMDA/NMSAP allows for backups to be configured from the web without any software being loaded on a laptop. The value is that the administrator can configure the backup from anywhere, and has access to all the devices, applications, etc. through the configuration wizard (again via the web). An added bonus is that the wizard will auto-detect and auto-populate the required fields. This means that the admin does not need in-depth knowledge of the database environment to configure the backup. Again, this demonstrates intelligence being worked in where it makes sense within the backup software.
  4. Deduplication support. This is an interesting topic. Everyone is talking about the need to deduplicate backup data. In reality, not all databases are prime candidates for deduplication technology (high change rate for example might be better fitted for backup to less expensive storage). With NetWorker you have options.
  5. Hardware Snapshot integration. According to a recent study, 53% of organizations have one hour or less of downtime for backups. I know what you must be thinking–it’s impossible to backup large databases in less than one hour. Well, not if you leverage hardware snapshots. In fact, while more customers are becoming aware that snapshots are not the most cost-effective end-of-the-road solution for backup, they are also realizing that snapshots are the perfect means to achieving super-efficient, and low-production-impact backup processing. To work within this framework, NetWorker is application-aware so will manage the off-host, live backup to disk, tape or deduplication storage via snapshot management.

The list above is just a subset of what is offered with NMDA/NMSAP. There are several other features that you might find useful and these can be found in the NMDA datasheet (for example, multi-streaming backup to the cloud, and RMAN for SAP on Oracle support via the NMSAP module).

Perhaps it’s time to go back and re-inventory your backup needs for databases and applications. I’m quite sure that both new and existing NetWorker customers can find value in leveraging NetWorker, NMDA, and NMSAP for backup and recovery of their databases and applications.

Reach out to the EMC NetWorker Community and collaborate with your colleagues: www.emc.com/networkeronline

To see a complete list of NetWorker modules: http://www.emc.com/backup-and-recovery/networker/networker.htm

A full list of the EMC backup and recovery portfolio: http://www.emc.com/backup-and-recovery