Backup administrators have traditionally been the go-to-person when something went wrong with a critical data backup or recovery process. And the primary person chasing them down during these unfortunate circumstances was their boss. One issue (hopefully!). One target. Problem (usually) solved. Well…..that’s no longer the case. Continue reading
I am fortunate to have two musical children who are both very talented at their respective instruments. When they play or practice alone they are able to control the tempo and volume of the piece independently. However put them with others in an orchestra and suddenly they need to coordinate not only their tempo, but with that of their section and other instruments. This would be impossible without the conductor.
The conductor has visibility to all the scores of music, they are able to bring in and fade out sections of instruments to achieve a perfect balance. Much the same as a backup administrator should be able to do. The backup admin perhaps does not have the individual skill to backup the Oracle Database, or the Exchange Database. Or perhaps does not have the precise tool to backup the virtual servers.
To read the full post on our sister site Thought Feast, click here.
Does your backup make you feel like this, spinning uncontrollably?
It’s easy to see why. Data growth is unrelenting. And today’s backup can’t cope with the scale, complexity or costs that result.
On July 10, 2013, we’ll reveal a new generation of backup and archive breakthroughs designed to get you out of free fall – and in control.
EMC President and COO David Goulden and Backup Recovery Systems division executives Guy Churchward and Stephen Manley will be the guest speakers.
There will be live Q&A.
Oh yeah – there will also be the 5,280 foot drop of death you got a glimpse of.
And make sure to read all about it next week on The Backup Window.
See you next Wednesday!
You may have recently read The Backup Window’s May 17 post “Forget the Drapes…How’s Your Plumbing?”, in which Heidi Biggar talks about the important relationship between backup architecture and application deployment, productivity, innovation and ultimately revenue.
Also in that article, Heidi shared a video of Guy Churchward, president of EMC’s Backup Recovery Systems division, at EMC World last month. In this video, Guy compares backup to the plumbing of a house – without backup, it doesn’t matter what the rest of your environment looks like because you won’t be able to scale to address exponential growth due to big data.
I’m going to take that argument one step further and tell you that while having a good backup and recovery infrastructure (a.k.a. the plumbing) IS important, effective management of that infrastructure may require you to mask it. Let me explain.
Modern, unified, non-disruptive data protection infrastructures are complex, though you might not have all the components shown here in play today. It really depends on what the business need actually is.
Starting on the left side we see some virtualized hosts with applications, some physical hosts and primary storage. You may have some particularly challenging mission-critical applications with aggressive RTOs and RPOs. You may be using replication for those. But, all of this needs to be backed up and protected. You’re likely using your backup manager of choice, which may also be backing up your VMs directly. And eventually those safe sets of data are going to make their way down to an archive device.
That’s the infrastructure Guy spoke of – it’s important and it performs a vital task for your business. However, as I mentioned, it’s complex. It’s simply not possible to effectively monitor each data protection component individually, particularly if there are multiple backup applications or many archive devices. Visibility is crucial, and in order to get a holistic, end-to-end view of the environment you need to mask the complexity. That’s where data protection management software like Data Protection Advisor can help.
Case in point: in speaking with many customers over the past few years we’ve learned that the SLAs they were being asked to meet as part of their organizations’ transformation processes weren’t focused on the individual success of an individual backup (i.e., they didn’t care whether a backup occurred on the first, second or nth time of asking) but rather the speed and precision of the overall process. Customers really wanted to know that their data was being protected within specified time periods and that it had reached the designated vaulting location/device.
And to be able to do this, you need to be able to see and manage the entire environment.
Abstracting Management as a Change-Enabler
There is another important capability these tools bring. By separating the management view of the protection infrastructure from the various technologies deployed, IT is empowered to implement operative changes to the environment. (I’ll explain this too.)
Service providers and enterprise IT shops alike are looking for ways to beat out the competition by investing in new technologies that will help differentiate in terms of cost or performance. But by swapping one technology for another, management and visibility of the protection environment are lost, or at least broken. Each new technology brings its own variation on ‘how things should be done’.
However, by abstracting management views of the entire environment away from the underlying technology, the service provider’s management view and control of end-to-end protection processes are buffered from any change in the data protection ‘plumbing’. These management tools become a change enabler (or transformation enabler) by simplifying the environment and removing the worry and hassle that often accompany transformation. In other words, your management tools can become a change enabler independent from your underlying data protection technology.
Somewhat related to this is EMC’s recent announcement of ViPR Software-Defined Storage. You’ve probably heard how ViPR can Virtualize Everything. Compromise Nothing.
ViPR provides a revolutionary approach to storage automation and management to transform existing heterogeneous physical storage into a simple, extensible and open virtual storage platform. This means that organizations don’t have to give up choice as their organizations grow and management costs don’t have to go through the roof either.
With ViPR, organizations get a simple, unified way to manage virtual and physical storage that not only protects their investments today, but can also dynamically adapt and respond to future requirements.
While DPA isn’t quite the same as ViPR, and ViPR is intended for primary storage, the underlying goal is the same: simplify complexity through automation and centralized management.
And that gives you the freedom of choice and the flexibility to select the plumbing components you need to drive your transformation.
One of the major advantages data duplication brings to going tapeless for backup is the ability to use your existing network links to replicate your backup data to a second site.
This in theory is all very well, but as a backup administrator do you have the visibility and / or management of these links. How can you be sure that all your data has been replicated off site?
During a recent EMC sponsored survey in South Africa we found 44% of the respondents were still using tape to recover from a disaster. However it appears that this is not their ideal method as a staggering 82% of the companies want to completely stop using tape for backup. This is a trend we have seen across Europe in similar surveys EMC have conducted. So although South Africa is not unique by having nearly half the respondent’s still using tape for DR, it is a country which continues to struggle with good network connectivity.
The current trend is to use data deduplication for backup which in turn enables the backup data to pass over existing links for DR. However if these links are unreliable, visibility of these links is imperative, to ensure backup data is in fact replicated off site. For a backup admin a tool such as Data Protection Advisor will help with monitoring a large number of backup jobs to report on status, but perhaps more importantly in this example is that it will also monitor the infrastructure that supports the backup. So any network links that fail will be reported not only to the network team but also the backup admin.
DPA has just undergone a major update to afford customers complete visibility into the backup process. A key part of this update is real-time monitoring and analytics, designed to give better predictability and assurance that mission-critical applications are protected. This includes the monitoring and reporting of the network the backup data flows over. Predictability when all of your data will not fit down your link is a useful tool. DPA will monitor the growth in your backups and analyse the amount of capacity needed to replicate this data, producing a flag, that in a given number of weeks the replication process may not complete. In addition as backup is often a process that happens overnight, understanding any data loss and providing reports detailing such errors would allow the backup admin to have confidence in knowing when backups are not replicated.
This type of information is often not in view to the backup admin, so to achieve a tapeless environment and the trust that you have all of your backup data off site, you not only need a Purpose Built Backup Appliance, but also a set of tools to give you maximum visibility into the complete process.
During Backup Game Day II we discussed this very subject, take 30 minutes to understand how tools from EMC can give you back your evenings and weekends from monitoring your backups and relying on the network team to tell you when there is an issue with capacity or connectivity.
The webcast can be viewed here.