Evolving Beyond PBBAs

Caitlin Gordon

Caitlin Gordon

Data Domain Product Marketing, Data Protection and Availability Division
I have spent the past eight years focused on all things data protection, with a focus on backup and archive. Lucky for me, Data Domain Systems give me lots of good topics to discuss here. When I’m not blogging, I’m equal parts gadget geek and sports freak – always ready to chat about the latest IT rumor or celebrate/lament the latest Boston sports heartbreak/victory. You can also find me talking backup on Twitter and YouTube.

I have been on a few missions in my life – some nobler than others – and now I’m on a new mission.  Specifically, I’m out to evolve the market beyond a discussion of simple ‘purpose-built backup appliances’ to focus on ‘protection storage’.  You may be surprised to hear me say this since Data Domain systems (arguably) created and today leads the PBBA market.  But the reality is, that as wonderful as PBBAs are, protection storage is so much more than a simple backup appliance.

The first reason is quiet simple; we’ve seen more and more customers move towards consolidating backup and archive data on a single system.  Protection storage must be designed to handle both workloads simultaneously.  Since backup data (very few, large files) and archive data (many, very small files) has opposite characteristics, this is no easy feat.  To support archive data, EMC engineering has invested years of development to refine the Data Domain file system to support both workloads.

The second piece of the protection storage puzzle goes to the heart of the purpose of backups and archives.  Specifically, if you’re going to recover or access data on backup or archive storage, you’re doing so because it no longer exists anywhere else.  That makes this protection storage system your storage of last resort.  This means that protection storage must be designed to ensure that when data is requested from the system, it will be reliably delivered back every time.  This is the core of the Data Domain Data Invulnerability Architecture –industry leading data integrity protection.

Finally, protection storage differs from primary storage in that must provide a cost effective $/GB.  As we all know, the key to this is deduplication – but not all deduplication is created equal.  In order to provide the highest dedupe rates, a system must use variable-length deduplication and dedupe across a highly scalable storage pool.  Data Domain deduplication reduces storage requirements by an average of 10 to 30x and systems scale up to 2 PB of usable capacity in a single system.

As you can see, I’m pretty passionate about this topic and sometimes I think I may be a crazy lone wolf on this mission.  But this week, I was thrilled to see that I may not be so crazy after all. Colm Keegan, Sr. Analyst over at Storage Switzerland just posted a great blog on Tuesday that discusses this very topic.   Check out what he has to say and let us know what you think.

EMC Elect 2014

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!

EMC Elect 2014

First off, I wanted to say how honored and humbled I am to be a returning EMC Elect member in 2014. I have learned so much in the first year of being an Elect that I can only imagine what greatness is in store for me and being able to learn from this fantastic group of new and returning members.

For those readers that are not sure what “EMC Elect” is about, or have never heard of it, let me explain. As posted on our EMC Community Page (Login/Account Required):

“EMC Elect is a community-driven recognition and thank you for individual’s engagement with EMC as a brand over the last calendar year.”

While that is the most concise and accurate statement describing the program at a high level, having what it takes to become EMC Elect in my mind is where the true value of this program shines through.

There are three pillars that each member selected into this program stand on:

  • Engagement - EMC Elect revolves around a person’s social engagement and advocacy for the EMC brand, its products, and philosophy. Engagement usually takes place through social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs, but can also include the level of engagement and contributions (speaking opportunities, etc.) that a member makes at industry events and conferences.
  • Commitment - This attribute comes in the form of being involved in industry conversation on a consistent basis, particularly surrounding EMC technology topics. However, more importantly, commitment is shown through constructive feedback helping efforts to improve not only EMC Elect or EMC and it’s products but also the technology industry as well.
  • Leadership - To put it simply, it’s all about initiative. EMC Elect are always ready to take the opportunity to engage and represent for the betterment of the community and the EMC Brand.

I want to go ahead and congratulate those that have been announced this morning as EMC Elect 2014. In particular, my fellow co-workers in the EMC Data Protection and Availability Division:

If you have a minute, take a look at their respective blogs and give them an EMC Elect congratulatory Twitter Follow!

While all of the EMC Elect 2014 should be recognized, the real winner in all of this is EMC’s customers and the industry as a whole. I speak for the group of Elect in saying that our main mission is to be an advocate for the EMC brand.  You are probably thinking now, “What does this mean for me?”

Our mission of advocacy is two fold. Providing you, the readers of our blogs and tweets, knowledge and a transparent view of the world of EMC. But more importantly it is also to listen and provide EMC with valuable feedback that ultimately means better service and solutions for you the customers.

So if you visit an EMC Elect blog, comment and share your views and feedback. Or, if you see an EMC Elect member at an industry event, feel free to engage, converse, and share knowledge, it’s what we as members are committed (and eager) to do!

The One Resolution Your Organization Can’t Afford Not to Make in 2014

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’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I rarely make them. Actually, I can’t recall the last time I made one. College perhaps?

Why then this post to start the year?

For three reasons:

  • I’ve got a (somewhat) captive audience. We’re generally more open to change at this time of year than we are at any other point throughout the year, except perhaps on our birthdays. Just look at the volume of tweets generated over the past couple of weeks including the hashtags #2014, #newyearresolution or #resolutions, or, in the IT sphere, tweets with the hashtags #ITresolutions, #ITregrets, #2014techtrends or #2014techpredictions. We want to be healthier, kinder, smarter, more efficient, more valuable, etc., and the New Year provides the proverbial blank slate to start fresh.173669653
  • Change is inevitable. We grow older, markets and trends shift, technologies run their courses, new competitors emerge, etc. Being indelibly wedded to an idea, trend, technology, product or a way of doing things bounds options, and this isn’t healthy for you or your business. Data protection not excluded.
  • 2014 will be the year of the battle cry for protected storage to meet service level objectives (SLOs), and this is just as much a people/process story as it is technology/product story.

So, before the holiday break, I clicked on a link in an @HarvardBiz tweet, which led me to Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers by Niraj Dawar. It’s a thought provoking, strategy-challenging read—and, importantly, it’s the genesis of this post:

  • The 2014 resolution your organization can’t afford not to make is determining where your center of gravity lies (upstream with products or downstream with customers) and taking concrete steps to tilt it in the right direction (downstream).

Short on time?

No worries. Over the next few posts, I’ll highlight some of Dawar’s more salient points  as well as don my analyst hat to explore some of the broader implications of this tale for IT and  data protection more specifically. Together, we’ll connect some important dots.

Tech Prediction for 2014: A Battle Cry for Protected Storage

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).

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Organizations buy storage infrastructure for one reason: meeting application service level objectives (SLOs). Applications look to storage for availability/accessibility, performance, and protection. While these functions may seem simple, a look at all of the different storage system and software offerings in the marketplace shows that it’s one of the most complex challenges for any data center.

Most storage service level discussions begin with availability and performance. To meet those SLOs, teams deploy multiple storage personalities and configurations – high-performance block storage or scale-out object storage or raw, low-cost IOPs storage, etc. Then they consider protection.

To read the rest of this blog and more tech predictions for 2014, please see our sister site Reflections.

Twelfth Day of Blogmas: Software-Defined Storage, SLOs and PSA

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).

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.

 

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013