Backup isn't exactly the sexiest area within an IT organization. In many cases, it's perennially understaffed and under-resourced. But as data becomes an increasingly valuable commodity in the enterprise, and the volumes of data generated by the enterprise expand exponentially, backup is buckling under the strain. A new way of thinking about protection storage architecture may be required.
"Imagine a dam with a single, small sluice gate near the bottom, and there's water just gushing over the top," says Guy Churchward, president of Backup and Recovery Systems at EMC. That sluice gate represents your backup platform and the water represents your data. "Backup can't handle the load."
And worse is coming, Churchward says. If you were to pan the camera back from your little dam with water spilling over the top, you'd see 15 other raging rivers rushing toward you.
Protection Storage Fragmentation Disenfranchises IT
"We're on notice, as an organization to create a more open and agile infrastructure for protection storage," he says. "The bottleneck now is around the server. It's not us saying the competition is doing it wrong. It's us saying the way people are doing backup today isn't going to scale. It's actually going to create fragmentation and disenfranchise IT."
Today, Churchward says, users are addressing individual data protection challenges reactively, as they arise, and they're applying costly siloed or "one size fits all" products and solutions that are difficult to manage, optimize and pay for. You've got desktop backup, virtualized backup, cloud backup, different forms of backup for different applications. In effect, he says, organizations are creating "accidental architecture."
"Evolving data protection technology and expanding requirements have completely transformed the backup industry," writes Stephen Manley, CTO of Backup and Recovery Systems at EMC.
"Unfortunately, with such rapid change, many organizations have fallen into the chaos of an accidental architecture, Manley says. The backup team isnt solving critical protection performance challenges from the application, virtualization and storage teams, so those teams deploy silos of point products as they deem appropriate. The accidental architecture results. Its accidental because nobody would intentionally plan for half-dozen unconnected protection tools, no central oversight and no cost controls."
"Customers need to define a protection storage architecture to combat the accidental architecture," he adds. "This architecture should be composed of loosely coupled modules to minimize vendor lock-in while providing the value of integrated data protection. That way, the backup team can solve immediate challenges while delivering a platform that can evolve with business and technical requirements."
EMC's New Protection Storage Lineup
This thinking has led EMC to take a different approach to protection storage. Today it announced a broad array of new hardware and software products intended to help IT deliver a protection storage architecture that meets the demands of the business, give stakeholders control and visibility into the protection of the environments they manage, all with the capability to scale as necessary. As Churchward notes, it's about bringing the sexy back to backup.
The new products affect a broad swathe of the company's product lines, including Data Domain, Avamar, NetWorker and Mozy.
EMC has introduced four new midrange Data Domain systems—the Data Domain DD2500, DD4200, DD4500 and DD7200—which consolidate backup and archive data onto a single protection storage platform. EMC says the systems are up to 4x faster and 10x more scalable than the existing Data Domain systems they replace. The systems also support up to 540 data streams, a 3x increase over past systems.
For extended backup and archive application support, the Data Domain systems now support direct backup from SAP HANA Studio via NFS. Also, DD Boost for Oracle RMAN now supports Oracle Exadata and SAP running on Oracle.
Data Domain systems also now offer integration with archiving applications from OpenText, IBM and Dell. In all, these new integrations mean that Data Domain systems can be deployed with more than 20 products for file, email, SharePoint, contact management and database archiving.
On the Avamar front, EMC has added support to Avamar 7 for all major data center workloads directed to Data Domain systems, with the addition of file system and NAS/NDMP backups, allowing all major data center workloads to be protected by the combined solution.
For virtual environments, EMC has added VM Instant Access, which allows a VM to be booted from a Data Domain system and running in less than two minutes. And a new VMware vSphere web client provides the capability to manage Avamar directly from the vSphere interface.
EMC has introduced new integrated snapshot management to NetWorker 8.1. It features a new wizard-based user interface, auto-discovery and intelligent assignment of snapshot storage. In addition, EMC says Data Domain Boost support over Fibre Channel enables 50 percent faster backups and 2.5x faster restores compared with VTL-based configurations. EMC is also delivering a complete refresh of its VMware support, leveraging Avamar technology services.
Finally, for cloud backup, EMC has added Active Directory integration to Mozy to reduce the administrative burden of separately creating user accounts and to enhance self-service. EMC has added storage pools to reduce the amount of time spent monitoring storage quotas at the individual machine level, and it has also added keyless activation to make provisioning new users a faster, more efficient process.
"Previously, Great Western Bank struggled just to meet backup and recovery SLAs, and still worried about our ability to recover data and systems in a fashion that carried no impact to our business in the event of a disaster," says Mike Strenge, senior vice president of Information Technology at Great Western Bank.
"EMC's data protection solutions alleviated those most basic concerns and have additionally enabled the IT team to take a more strategic role in the bank's aggressive acquisition objectives," Strenge says. "We're confident that we have the data protection infrastructure to support the change and growth of our business objectives."
Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Thor at email@example.com