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

More than Microsoft Support – EMC NetWorker 8.1 SP1

Sherry Davenport

Sherry Davenport

I started in the IT industry over 30 years ago — it sure doesn’t feel like that long! I worked my way through the ranks starting at the old Digital Equipment Corporation in software sales support, sales training, channel training, product management and, ultimately, marketing. My background includes digital imaging, team productivity software, Alta Vista (remember that?), storage management, storage networking and most recently backup and recovery software. While I love my job, I love cooking and wine appreciation even more.

Time flies.  How many times have you heard that??  Colloquialism aside, it’s true.  We announced NetWorker 8.1 in July.  For the 5th blog post in the ‘Meet NetWorker 8.1’ series, I would like to introduce you to the latest update, Service Pack 1, which is now available.

If you have been following The Backup Window, EMC Pulse blogs, or @EMCBackup on Twitter you saw that we publicly announced NetWorker 8.1 SP1 on November 4 along with Avamar 7 SP1, as enhancements to the Data Protection Suite for Backup.  While our emphasis was around support for the latest Enterprise releases from Microsoft, I’m here to inform you that this Service Pack for NetWorker offers much more!

What, you ask?  Well, I will try to make this a quick read for you by giving you some of the highlights and point you to further reading, if you are so inclined.

Enhanced EMC Data Domain Integration

Deeper integration with EMC Protection Storage

Let’s start with the expansion we continue to make in integrating NetWorker with Data Domain systems.  We are seeing incredible adoption rates of our NetWorker Client Direct to Data Domain capabilities. To expand this adoption, we now offer client direct support for databases on UNIX/Linux platforms.

At the same time, we have continued to enhance NetWorker’s integration with Data Domain Systems.The new DD Boost over Fibre Channel support in NetWorker 8.1 allows customers with established FC networks to eliminate VTL systems as a “backup-to-disk band-aid” and use Data Domain systems in a next generation backup to disk workflow. While this support was previously available for file systems and Microsoft applications, we have now added the cross platform applications supported with the NetWorker Module for Databases and Applications.

Snapshot Management Enhancements

Can you say ‘snapshots’?  I hope you have taken the opportunity to test out the new snapshot management capabilities directly integrated into Snapshot Management EnhancementsNetWorker 8.1.  If you are protecting a mission critical application like SAP or Oracle, you know that using snapshot technology can keep you ahead of the game when trying to meet RPO’s.  To make life easier for you, we have added SAP and Oracle workflows to the NetWorker Snapshot Management configuration wizard, eliminating all the scripting that would need to be done manually.  This makes things more reliable as there is less room for configuration error by using a wizard based workflow, and it validates the settings you selected before they are applied.

Backing up a file-system block-by-block…

Have you tried the new Block Based Backup for Windows feature in NetWorker 8.1?  If so, and you felt that the VHD format was too limiting at 2TB, we now support VHDx and, therefore, lightning fast backup of 64 TB volumes using VSS and change block tracking technology. For those that aren’t too familiar with this capability, NetWorker Block-Based Backup enables backup of high-density, Windows-based file systems at five times faster than traditional file-based backup technology, two to four times faster restore, and up to 25 times faster than the nearest competitor.

Support for VMware vSphere 5.5

The EMC Data Protection Suite and it’s integration with VMware vSphere is stronger than ever! We work to release support in our products for the latest versions of VMware releases and this release is no different. EMC NetWorker  for Backup includes virtualization support to include private-cloud environments based on VMware vSphere 5.5!

The features mentioned here outline a taste of the ‘biggest bang for the buck’ when you upgrade to the latest Service Pack. For more information regarding highlights of the new Microsoft support within the Data Protection Suite, please read last week’s blog by Phil George (@vPhilGeorge).

Look here if you’d like to read more about what’s new in NetWorker 8.1 SP1 and join the conversation, too!

The Payback from Backup Transformation – Part 1

Lady Backup

Lady Backup

Lady Backup’s career in IT dates back before the time of the Spice Girls. Initially I started in high tech journalism in the US and eventually transitioned to become an industry analyst. My analyst years also coincided with my education – during this period of my life I was working on my MBA. After 7 years of going to school at night, I graduated with distinction with an Information Age MBA degree from Bentley University (at the time it was still Bentley College) located just outside of Boston. With degree in hand, what’s a restless girl to do next? This is where networking with fellow classmates led to a job at EMC. Starting our Hopkinton headquarters, I moved outside of the US with EMC International when I felt it was time for my next change. Today, Lady Backup is an American on the loose in the world. Living outside the United States has been a fascinating experience. For the moment I call England home. But I’m feeling my next wave of restlessness coming. Here are two hints: I love sunshine and I’m improving my Spanish.

Lady Backup likes to deal with facts.  Instead of giving you generalizations about the benefits of backup transformation, I want to show you the facts – quantifiable facts.

In our latest project, EMC commissioned a study by IDC to do an in-depth analysis of backup transformation, looking at the “before” and “after.”  To do this, IDC analysts interviewed several leading companies in key industries like financial services and telecommunications across the Middle East and Turkey.

This study is the second such study we’ve commissioned, the first IDC study was a similar analysis of a dozen companies across Europe and South Africa.   Using a consistent methodology, the findings between the two studies are similar, which says these studies are good indicators for companies around the world.

Let’s start with the outcome of the financial analysis.  According to IDC, companies saw a 5-month payback from their investment into EMC solutions.

The math from the IDC analysis is pretty simple and compelling on why it makes sense to transform your dated backup infrastructure:

  • Benefit: Over a three-year period, companies saved on average $4.6 million in hard costs by replacing tape and reducing backup storage capacity requirements. If we include soft costs associated with productivity gains for both IT and end users, the total financial benefit was more than $8 million over three years.
  • Investment: In a three-year period, companies invested an average of $1.3 million into their EMC solutions, including the initial acquisition, deployment and annual maintenance costs.
  • Net Gain: IDC shows more than a $7 million gain over three years from replacing dated backup infrastructures with EMC.

If you would like to see how the picture looks over three years, I’ve included a chart from the IDC report.


What do these numbers tell use?  By investing into a modernized EMC backup infrastructure you are reducing costs of data protection while improving service levels to the business.  And your investment is paid for in a matter of months.

In the next part, we’ll look in more detail at the category of savings.

All of the details about this study are hosted on a dedicated Web page.  And we invite you to join the conversation using #IDCROI.

Read more at ThoughtFeast!

Chicago Was Cold but EMC Forum Was Hot!

Gene Maxwell

Gene Maxwell

Technical Marketing, Data Protection and Availability Division
I am known by many as the creator of documentation that helps others easily understand technology. This is because I discovered that I myself was a visual learner as I worked in many different IT roles over the years. Prior to my technical marketing role, I was an EMC technical consultant for six years. I also have many years of experience as a customer in IT responsible for data center management & disaster recovery, including backups. My hobbies include building PCs, collecting movies (Casablanca is my favorite), singing and playing my guitar. I have a twin brother who is three minutes older than I am.

Show is Cold Too, just like ChicagoOctober 23rd was very cold in Chicago, almost 20 degrees below normal.  But at the Westin Hotel near O’Hare Airport things were hot with nearly 600 customers attending the EMC Forum Chicago event.  In 2013 there have been 55 different EMC Forum events happening across the country providing information about EMC’s exciting solutions portfolio helping thousands of existing and potential EMC customers better understand how to lead their own transformation.

The event was kicked off by Steve Crowe, the Central Division Senior VP, with the keynote address given by Jon Peirce, SVP, IT Private Cloud Infrastructure Services sharing the different ways that EMC is leveraging its own solutions to transform EMC into a more efficient organization. Following the keynote, there were 5 different tracks including 20 different sessions to choose from on topics that ranged from cloud transformation, backup recovery and archive, converged infrastructure with Vblock, VIPR, to Big Data.  There were also 14 sponsor booths where folks could stop and talk about specific products and solutions. When I was a customer, I loved to attend these events to get the latest information on all things EMC.

I was lucky enough to be the presenter of “Changing the Game with EMC Backup and Recovery” for BRS.   My session was full with even some attendees standing in the back which tells me there are still lots of folks out there struggling with backup and archive. I talked about how IT organizations that don’t focus enough on servicing the needs of their business units can create an accidental architecture which can be very inefficient, expensive, hard to manage, and not be as scalable as it needs to be. I provided an overview on how EMC’s data protection solutions for backup and archive can provide real value for their transformation journey.  I also provided an update on our most recent launch for Data Domain, Avamar, and NetWorker.

I believe there is only 1 EMC Forum event left in 2013 (30 Oct is Dallas, where you can also say “hi
to EMCBackup) – but if you get the chance to attend EMC Forum next year, I highly recommend it.  It was fun and very informative.  In Chicago, EMC Forum was hot, and there was a real buzz in the air!

I’ll Take “EMC for SharePoint” for $100 Alex

Gene Maxwell

Gene Maxwell

Technical Marketing, Data Protection and Availability Division
I am known by many as the creator of documentation that helps others easily understand technology. This is because I discovered that I myself was a visual learner as I worked in many different IT roles over the years. Prior to my technical marketing role, I was an EMC technical consultant for six years. I also have many years of experience as a customer in IT responsible for data center management & disaster recovery, including backups. My hobbies include building PCs, collecting movies (Casablanca is my favorite), singing and playing my guitar. I have a twin brother who is three minutes older than I am.

I’ll take “EMC for SharePoint” for $100 Alex.

As I participated in the Chicago SharePointFest event last week I talked with lots of SharePoint customers about the many ways that SourceOne for SharePoint could help them.  Several of these customers asked me an interesting open-ended question that made me stop and think.   “So what does EMC do for SharePoint?”   With so many good answers to this question, I thought this would make a great new Jeopardy category.

If “Why EMC for Microsoft SharePoint?” ever appears as a category on Jeopardy, here are what some of the answers would be:

  1. What is Primary Storage:  EMC offers multiple primary storage options that offer a wide variety of storage features many of them with our Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) technology.
  2. What is Virtualization/Cloud Platform:  EMC as part of VCE offers VBlock for first class virtualization of any application environment including SharePoint and the other Microsoft applications.
  3. What is Externalize Active Content:  SourceOne for SharePoint gives customers the ability to externalize their active SharePoint content out of the SQL database enhancing SharePoint performance & scalability and decreasing licensing costs while maintaining full transparency to SharePoint users.
  4. What is Archive Inactive Content:  SourceOne also provides the ability for customers to archive inactive SharePoint content out of their SQL databases by moving it to a more cost appropriate tier of storage that can leverage features like deduplication, compression, and single instancing. SourceOne offers SharePoint users full access to their content via a web plug in, maintaining ease of search and full transparency to SharePoint users.
  5. What is E-Discovery:  SourceOne Discovery Manager provides easy-to-use yet very powerful e-discovery capabilities across all SourceOne Archive data.  SourceOne Discovery Manager can discover, manage, and apply secure hold to any content in the EMC SourceOne archives.
  6. What is Archive Storage:  EMC offers multiple archive storage options for SharePoint including Data Domain, Atmos, and Centera that provide many storage efficiency and data protection advantages.
  7. What is Backup & Recovery: Avamar and NetWorker with Data Domain provide the best backup and recovery for SharePoint with intelligent agents that allow recovery of individual SharePoint items (when combined with Kroll) or the entire SharePoint farm.
  8. What is Enterprise Content Management:  Some customers try to get SharePoint to do things it really wasn’t designed to do.   EMC Documentum integrates with SharePoint to provide many of these common document management requirements such as business process management and compliance while maintaining the familiar SharePoint user experience.

I’m probably forgetting something, but that’s one heck of a list!  I think EMC has SharePoint well covered.