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

 

Help, I Need Somebody… to Manage My Backups

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.

By Tom Giuliano, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems

Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors….

Okay, I admit, it…this passage probably won’t mean much to you if you aren’t a Beatles fan, particularly of their 1965 song “Help”, which has been described as the “first crack in the protective shell” John Lennon had built around his emotions during the Beatles’ rise to fame.

So what does this song have to do with backups and confidence in data protection?  I’m glad you asked.  The parallel I’m attempting to make here is that from an IT organization perspective, the way backups and data protection are viewed today is dramatically different than it was a few years ago.  No, I’m not talking backing up data in 1965….  But, a just few years ago we had fewer backup options, less data and smaller environments, and less cost, relatively anyway.  IT organizations could handle all backup processes themselves.  It was still hard work, but it was manageable.  Fast forward to today – we have explosive data growth, many data protection solutions and options, and pervasive virtualization.  IT organizations need help.

Quite often, small and medium sized organizations simply aren’t equipped to efficiently manage all the components across an expanding data protection environment.  Even large IT organizations may notice that things aren’t getting done well, assets are poorly utilized, there’s poor compliance, etc.  This is exactly why many companies look to experts to help manage and report on their backups.  I’m talking about managed service providers.

Sure, service providers often use the same backup products as many IT organizations.  And in many cases, a greater variety of them to ensure the use cases for EVERY one of their customers are met.  They can effectively and efficiently share resources across customers, or carve off a cluster for a high-demand customer.  And scale – oh the scale.  Service providers should be able to add capacity (and customers) on the fly as data grows.  They should also provide monitoring and reporting of status for all the services they provide to their customers, even offering their customers the ability to access and run reports of IT services provided.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before….

So how do service providers achieve this omnipotent, almost holy, IT provider status?  Well, first of all they are VERY, VERY, VERY good at what they do.  That’s why they are experts at providing Backup-as-a-Service.  They also have an ace in the hole, a secret weapon of sorts.  In addition to using the industry’s best backup and recovery solutions, service providers have access to data protection management tools to centralize and unify information across the environment, saving significant time, effort and money.  One such tool is EMC Data Protection Advisor

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down,
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh…

Data Protection Advisor (DPA) enables service providers and IT organizations to visualize data protection success, utilization efficiency, and infrastructure component status across the environment through built-in and customizable reports.  Through policy-based protection, DPA provides an automated alert to administrators should something go wrong, or if it’s starting to go off track.  You see, DPA is proactive, and will notify you if it calculates that you will run out of capacity in, say, 3 months on your current consumption rate.  DPA also offers chargeback so IT organizations can actually make money from data protection.

Now, imagine (yeah, that’s another John Lennon reference…) if you had real-time monitoring and analytics, unified visibility and comprehensive reporting for the entire data protection environment.  Imagine never worrying about the status of data protection or providing (or receiving) a specific service level.  Imagine never worrying about proving compliance or that unexpected audit.  Imagine knowing that all this information is just a click away.  No worries.  Ever.

You may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.

Service providers offering Backup-as-a-Service are there to help make this a reality.  Those service providers with a tool like Data Protection Advisor make it an easy decision.

Imagine.

Is Big Data Too Big to Back Up?

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).

Is the new Boeing Dreamliner too big for safety inspections? Was the Titanic too big to need lifeboats? Are some banks too big to follow basic asset safety rules? Was Gmail too big to lose data?  

So, is big data too big to back up? Definitely not.  But that doesn’t mean you can back up Big Data with traditional backup techniques. Big Data’s volume, variety, and velocity (the 3 V’s) force backup teams to transform their approach.

  • Volume – As data capacity increases, traditional backup and recovery windows become unmanageable. This is not a new challenge, but big data accelerates the pain. Full backup and recovery become virtually irrelevant when you approach windows of multiple days. Incremental backups will scale only if you leverage intelligence in the data source; on its own, a backup agent cannot find the new data fast enough. Granular recoveries become challenging either due to the size of the objects to recover, or due to the process of sifting through trillions of objects to locate the object. The answer to the volume challenge is versioned replication. Intelligent data sources drive rapid backups to deduplicated disk. The deduplicated disk synthesizes the incremental changes into full, space-efficient, native format backup copies. If a primary system fails, the customer can instantly run that application directly off the backup copy – no need to wait for a full restore. If the customer needs to recover a large object, he can directly access the backup copy. If the backup team is searching for a specific object in the sea of storage, they can rapidly search through the data to find the information. Versioned replication is the only way to scale to meet Big Data’s volume.

  • Variety – As the types of data increase, so do the applications that create and utilize that data. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult for the backup team to deliver a one-size-fits-all centralized solution for all those applications. Backup tools can’t build application-intelligent agents fast enough to cover all the customers’ use cases. Furthermore, the application owners expect more visibility and control over their backups, so they don’t want to be relegated to a bystander role in the protection of their data. The only way to cope with these changes is for the backup team to offer a variety of services to the application teams, to help them meet protection SLAs. In some cases, the backup team will run the backups. In others they will provide the backup storage, cataloging, and reporting. In still others, they may offer only the cataloging and reporting. In other words, they need to transform their backup environment and behave like service providers to their big data customers.

  • Velocity – Big data users want high-performance access large amounts of data, whenever they need it. Therefore, there is no backup window. Backup must minimize its resource impact on the production environment. This is the heart of versioned replication – minimal load on the data source and network, with no moving parts. Second, recoveries must happen quickly. Again, nothing is faster than leveraging protected data directly off the backup storage. Deduplicated disk may not have the I/O performance of primary disk, but can still provide reduced performance access to your data. Ultimately, there’s nothing faster than instantly accessing your data, instead of waiting hours for recoveries to complete.

In other words, Big Data protection is all about versioned replication to deduplicated disk, with the backup team shifting into a service provider role. Not surprisingly, our most successful customers are following that same transformation for their traditional data!

Whether your backup transformation is being driven by building a private cloud, big data, absorbing multiple acquisitions, or just doing more with less the transformation is the same.

Big data is not too big to back up, if you’re willing to change.

 

EMC’s Chief Oracle Architect Speaks Out

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.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Darryl Smith, one of EMC’s brightest IT minds, and the conversation that ensued was very different than I thought it would be… and in a good way.

As a former editor and analyst, I know all-too-well the pitfalls of doing customer success stories. Even the best-designed set of questions, timely topics and cooperative interviewees too often seem to produce content that’s stilted or formulaic. There’s value, but you’ve got to do a lot of filtering, or digging, to find the one or two gold nuggets that apply to you or your business.

“If your backup infrastructure can’t keep pace with the explosion of data, or match the mobility of cloud computing, your database is going to suffer… So, it’s absolutely important to make sure your backup infrastructure is much more agile and dynamically scalable than it is today.” – Darryl Smith

Not the case this time. Smith talks candidly about backup from his vantage point as a database guy. He explains why backup is so critical to his peace of mind and gives an insider’s view of the process and technology changes that EMC has gone through to improve backup, the relationship-building that this has required and what’s in store in the weeks and months ahead.

The content is fresh, insightful and, most importantly, relevant to your IT and business teams. Check out the article and be sure to let know what you think:

  • Does what Smith say resonate?
  • What are you doing to transform your backup environment?
  • What type of business benefits are you seeing?
  • How has backup slowed you down?
  • What is backup nirvana to you?

Where Does Archiving Rank On Your List of Critical IT Applications?

EMC Backup
EMCBackup is made up of a team of highly experienced EMC Backup Recovery Systems’ product and technical marketing managers. With decades of product and market experience among them, the team brings a rich and diverse skill set to the EMC backup and recovery portfolio and to the market. The team is responsible for the messaging and positioning of EMC’s Avamar, Data Domain, NetWorker, and Data Protection Advisor.

By Bob Spurzem, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems

Not a year goes by that a major scandal involving email does not rock the worldwide news.  And 2012 is no exception.

Recall the major story that broke the week of the United States Presidential elections involving General David Petraeus, General John Allen and a civilian Jill Kelley.  Can you believe that this scandal involved 20,000 to 30,000 documents, mostly emails that spanned a two year period beginning in 2010?

Scandals involving email are not isolated to government scandals.

Take for example the high profile patent law suit between Apple and Samsung.  When the case concluded in July 2012, it was revealed that an email from Google to Samsung had much to do with the final outcome.

National security, loss of intellectual property and general leaks of confidential information are a constant threat to organizations of all sizes, public or private.

Which brings us back to our original question:  Where does archiving stand on your IT priority list?

That answer likely depends on whether your organization has had to face a major security breach or law suit involving email, documents or similar forms of electronic information.

Archiving is the application responsible for managing sensitive information.  Archiving collects and preserves electronic information allowing for fast search and retrieval of electronic records as required by government, a court of law or an internal investigation.

Organizations that maintain an archive repository are able to manage and preserve sensitive information according to organization policy and avoid the risk of losing control of sensitive information that rests in the hands of end users.

If you don’t have a strategy for archiving, you need one!  To learn more about archiving,  managing sensitive email and other forms of electronic information, go to http://www.emc.com/archiving/ .