Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of some of the Tuesday afternoon sessions:
- Brocade: Maximizing Your Cloud: How Data Centers Must Evolve
This was a session sponsored by Brocade to promote their concept of the "Ethernet Fabric". The first speaker, John McHugh, was from Brocade, and the second speaker was a client testimonial, Jamie Shepard, EVP for International Computerware, Inc.
John had an interesting take on today's network challenges. He feels that most LANs are organized for "North-South" traffic, referring to upload/downloads between clients and servers. However, the networks of tomorrow will need to focus on "East-West" traffic, referring to servers talking to other servers.
John was also opposed to integrated stacks that combine servers, storage and networking into a single appliance, as this prevents independent scaling of resources.
- The Future of Backup is Not Backup
Primary data is growing at 40 to 60 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), but backup data is growing faster. Why? Because data that was not backed up before are now being backed up, including test data, development data, and mobile application data.
Backup costs are 19x more expensive than production software costs. There is an enormous gap in data protection because companies fail to factor this into their budgets. It is not uncommon for IT departments to use multiple backup tools, for example one tool for VMs, and another tool for servers, and a third product for desktops.
part of the problem is identifying who "buys" the backup software. The server team might focus on the operating systems supported. The storage team focuses on the disk and tape media supported. The application owners focus on the features and capabilities for backup that minimize impact to their application.
The analyst organized these issues into three "C's" of backup concerns: Cost, Capability and Complexity. Cost is not just the software license fee for the backup software, but the cost of backup media, courier fees, and transmisison bandwidth. Capability refers to the features and functions, and IT folks are tired of having to augment their backup solution with additional tools and scripts to compensate for lack of capability. Complexity refers to the challenges trying to get existing backup software to tackle new sources like Virtual Machines, Mobile apps, and so on.
Has everyone moved to a tape-less backup system? Polling results found that people are shifting back to tape, either in a tape-only environment, or to supplement their disk or disk-based virtual tape library (VTL). Here are the polling results:
The poll also showed the top three backup software vendors were Symantec, IBM and Commvault, which is consistent with marketshare. However, the analyst feels that by 2014, an estimated 30 percent of companies will change their backup softwar vendor out of frustration over cost, capability and/or complexity.
There are a lot new backup software products specific to dealing with Virtual Machines. Some are focused exclusively on VMware. When asked what tool people used to backup their VMs, the polling results showed the following. NOte that 20 percent for Other includes products from major vendors, like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, as the analyst was more interested in the uptake of backup software from startups.
Some companies are considering Cloud Computing for backup. This is one area where having the cloud service provider at a distance is an actual advantage for added protection. A poll asking whether some or most data is backed up to the Cloud, either already today, or plans for the near future within the next 12 or 24 months, showed the following:
In addition to backup service providers, there are now several startups that offer file sharing, and some are adding "versioning" to this that can serve as an alternative to backup. These include DropBox, SugarSync, iCloud, SpiderOak and ShareFile.
The final topic was Snapshot and Disk Replication. These tend to be hardware-based, so they may not have options for versioning, scheduling, or application-aware capabilities normally associated with backup software. Space-efficient snapshots, which point unchanged data back to the original source, may not provide full data protection that disparate backup copies would provide. Here were polling results on whether snapshot/replication was used to augment or replace some or most of their backups:
Some of his observations and recommendations:
- Maintenance is more expensive than acquisition cost. Don't focus on the tip of the iceberg. Some backup software is more efficient for bandwidth and media which will save tons of money in the long run.
- Try to optimize what you have. He calls this the "Starbuck's effect". If you just need one coffee, then paying $4.50 for a cup makes sense. But if you need 100 coffees, you might be better off buying the beans.
- Design backups to meet service level agreements (SLAs). In the past, backup was treated as one-size-fits-all, but today you can now focus on a workload by workload basis.
- Be conservative in adopting new technologies until you have your backup procedures in place to handle data protection.
- Backup is for operational recovery, not long-term retention of data. A poll showed two-thirds of the audience kept backup versions for longer than 60 days! Re-evaluate how long you keep backups, and how many versions you keep. If you need long-term retention, use archive process instead.
- Recovery testing is a dying art. Practice recovery procedures so that you can do it safely and correctly when it matters most.
The analyst had a series of awesome pictures of large structures, the pyramids of Giza, the Chrysler building, and so on, and how they would look without their foundations in place. Backup is a foundation and should be treated as such in all IT planning purposes.
IT is evolving, but some basic needs like networking and backup procedures don't change. As companies re-evaluate their IT operations for Big Data, Cloud Computing and other new technologies, it is best to remember that some basic needs must be met as part of those evaluations.