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IBM introduces IBM Spectrum Protect Plus for VMware and Hyper-V

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IBM introduces IBM Spectrum Protect Plus for VMware and Hyper-V


Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!

IBM announced a new product, IBM Spectrum Protect Plus. To understand why, I will need to discuss a bit of history related to Data Protection.

(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM Spectrum Protect, IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot, IBM Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments, and IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management products. I was not paid in any manner to promote Geoffrey Moore's book mentioned below.)

IBM Spectrum Protect was originally developed as the Workstation Data Save Facility (WDSF) back in the 1980s, back when Personal Computers were just getting deployed.

I started in 1986 developing mainframe software, so we all had bulky 3270 terminals. When our area was offered 120 PCs to replace them, I was tasked with determining how to roll these out, 24 at a time, over five months.

My job was to determine who would get a PC in the first round, the second round, and so on. I handed out a simple one-page survey, asking everyone basic questions. Are you familiar with Personal Computers? Do have one at home? Are you comfortable using a mouse? My plan was to give those most familiar with them sooner, and those less familiar in later rounds.

However, it was my final question that sealed the deal:

How soon do you want a PC to replace your 3270 terminal?
[ ]Immediately       [ ]Next month    [ ]No Hurry    [ ]Put me last    [ ]Never!

Surprisingly, I had roughly 24 folks choosing each option on this last question, which made my decision process easy for me!

(In his book Crossing the Chasm, fellow author Geoffrey Moore would come up with similar groups: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. This is a great book and I highly recommend it!)

Of course, we used WDSF to back up the files. WDSF would later morph into DFDSM, then ADSM, then TSM, and now it is called IBM Spectrum Protect.

(For history on the name changes, see my October 2010 blog post [IBM Storwize Product Name Decoder Ring].)

Over the decades, the product has evolved from just backing up data on personal computers. IBM Spectrum Protect can now protect all kinds of machines, from tablets, mobile devices, and smartphones, to virtual machines, databases, and application servers in the data center.

Besides creating backup versions of files, IBM Spectrum Protect can also migrate older, less frequently used files to less expensive media, as well as archive files for long-term retention.

Different files can be assigned to different "management classes" that determine policies to be applied and enforced on the backup, migration and archive copies. For backups, this includes how many versions to keep while the file exists, how many versions to keep after the original file is deleted, how long to keep those inactive versions.


Instead of a grandfather-father-son [backup tape rotation], full-plus-incremental, or full-plus-differential scheme employed by other backup software, IBM Spectrum Protect has a unique "Incremental-Forever" approach that reduces backup time, LAN bandwidth requirements, and backup storage media.

While most companies still backup to tape, IBM Spectrum Protect can backup to flash, disk, tape, virtual and physical tape libraries, object storage, and even to public Cloud Service Providers such as IBM Bluemix, Amazon S3, and Microsoft Azure.

IBM Spectrum Protect both client-side and server-side data footprint reduction technologies including compression and deduplication, eliminating the need for expensive, single-purpose data deduplication devices like Dell-EMC Data Domain.

IBM Spectrum Protect is recognized as a leader in Data Protection software, able to scale up to meet the demands of the largest enterprises. However, the parameters and options that IBM Spectrum Protect has acquired over time have been compared to the cockpit or flight deck of an airplane!

For clients with Virtual Machines, IBM offered three solutions:

IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot

Formerly called Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager (FCM), [IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot] takes frequent, near-instant, non-disruptive, application-aware backups and restores for SAP, Oracle and Db2. It can also be used for VMware using advanced snapshot technology, on both IBM and non-IBM storage systems.

IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot can be used as a stand-alone product, or integrated with IBM Spectrum Protect to move the snapshots and FlashCopy targets to other storage media.

IBM Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments (VE)

Formerly called IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, [IBM Spectrum Protect VE] protects both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines.

IBM Spectrum Protect VE safely moves backup workloads to a centralized IBM Spectrum Protect server and enables administrators to create backup policies or restore virtual machines with just a few clicks. It allows you to protect data without a traditional backup window.

IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management

While not officially part of the IBM Spectrum Protect product suite, IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management] is part of the larger IBM Spectrum Storage family.

IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management makes copies available to DBAs, Developers and VM administrators when and where they need them. While this product is focused on DevOps and Dev/Test workflows, it can also be used to automate and schedule snapshots that can serve as backups.

Surprisingly, many companies do not take advantage of these solutions. Even clients who already have IBM Spectrum Protect deployed either (a) simply use Spectrum Protect clients on individual VM guests, or (b) use third-party products to backup VMs outside of Spectrum Protect infrastructure.

"Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them."
-- Albert Einstein

Smaller clients want something simpler to deploy, and easier to use and administer. Rather than simplify the products above, a process called "kneecapping" in the IT industry, IBM opted for a clean slate, [start-from-scratch] approach.

The result is IBM Spectrum Protect Plus, new software that was preview announced last Wednesday in time for this week's VMworld 2017 conference in Las Vegas, and next month's VMworld conference in Barcelona, Spain.

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus is available as either a stand-alone product, or integrated with IBM Spectrum Protect for long-term protection. It is focused exclusively on VMware and Hyper-V environments. General Availability is expected some time in 4Q 2017.

Key features include:

  • Simple to install in less than 15 minutes, configured in an hour
  • Easy to use by DBA, VM or application administrator. No IBM Spectrum Protect skills required for stand-alone deployment
  • Pre-defined Gold, Silver and Bronze policies are ready to use. Additional customized policies can be configured as needed
  • Supports both application-aware and crash-consistent methods
  • Data Footprint Reduction technologies including compression and deduplication
  • Instant data recovery to support DevOps, Dev/Test, Reporting, Analytics and Training
  • Granular search and restore of entire Virtual Machines, VMDKs, and individual files

As for the name, I would have prefered "IBM Spectrum Protect Basic Edition". The "Plus" implies that the new product is more advanced, or offers more features, than the existing Spectrum Protect editions.

To learn more, see [IBM Launches New Storage Software to Simplify Data Protection] press release.

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