Rolling Windows and Sticky Bytes

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Who Do You Trust?

on 2012-05-21

BJ Jenkins’ keynote on “Transforming Backup” started out today with the Tape Terminator being deployed to planet data because of duplicate data being detected. Tape Teminator, as it turns out, was BJ Jenkins himself.

It was an interesting talk overall. I live tweeted the session and you can find that series of tweets on my twitter profile.

I’ll provide a summary of the key points here. To keep things reasonably short, I’m going to skip the customer testimonials but I would encourage you to read the live tweet session or watch the video once it’s available.

De-duplication used to be the cutting edge of backup. When talking about a backup solution, de-duplication is no longer a feature that is nice to have, it is absolutely a must-have.

EMC estimates that over 1000 of our customers are now running completely tapeless for backup.

Newly Released:

  • Data Domain DD990
  • Avamar 6.1
  • Watch for more announcements around other BRS products (NetWorker, SourceOne,┬áDPA) in the coming weeks

Key Features of DD990:

  • Expandable up to 65PB
  • Cross-site de-duplication and replication from up to 270 remote sites
  • Up to 540 concurrent backup jobs
  • New DD OS with improved features for “multi-tenant” grids

Key Features of Avamar 6.1:

  • Support for SAP and Sybase
  • 3x faster backup and 60x faster restore than nearest competitor (specifically for VMware Image utilizing change block restore, I believe)
  • Support for Hyper-V backups with a feature set nearly identical to VMware backups (including granular, a.k.a. file level restore)

At this point, BRS CTO Stephen Manley came to the stage and talked about EMC’s vision for backup.

Backup gets focus when it does not meet the business needs of the rest of the business. For example, there may be impact to a system while in production (such as a long backup window) or if the backup software suffers a failure and data can’t be recovered in a timely manner (or perhaps even at all).

The vision is the same as last year — backup as a service. So how do we get there? Let’s start with the old backup model:

  1. A new system is deployed to host an application.
  2. After a while (or — in the worst case — an incident), somebody notices that the system is not protected and calls the system administrators.
  3. The system administrators call the backup administrators to ask for the system to be backed up.
  4. The backup administrators install client software and the data enters the backup infrastructure.
  5. When a restore needs to be done, the system administrators call the backup administrators and ask for a restore.

This involves too many phone calls and too much effort for both the system administrators and the backup administrators.

The pressures above tend to push backup toward faster backup, smaller backup windows, faster recovery and self service. System administrators, especially DBAs, want visibility into their data. Where are my primary copies? Are they healthy? What about my backup copies? Where do they live? Can they be restored?

Some problems are solvable independently but may have other consequences:

  • Giving DBAs the ability to dump their databases to disk and then sweep them with backup software solves part of the self-service problem and the visibility problem but causes sprawl and increased overhead for the DBAs.
  • De-dupe on the client with DDBoost or Avamar will reduce pressure on backup administrators for smaller windows and faster backups.
  • This pressure for smaller backup windows and faster backups also applies to the applications, leading to features such as VMware Change Block Tracking and Oracle Block Change Tracking.

So how do you solve these problems? Make the backup team a service provider.

  1. Centralize backup. Use Data Domain NFS mounts, Avamar Client, or DDBoost to get all your data where the backup administrators can control it, have visibility into it and manage it.
  2. Delegate some control of the backups (control, visibility and management) directly to system administrators.

The BRS team is driven to change the world — to transform backup.┬áBackup is all about trust. Who do you trust to get you to “Backup as a Service”? It’s “not just a job”. Your time and your energy are the most valuable commodities. To whom are you going to trust your time and energy in the transformation of backup for you?

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