Backup is Dead – Introducing the Data Protection Lifecycle, Part 2

In this post, we continue to lay out the nScaled Data Protection Lifecycle concept by assessing the enabling technologies and then enumerating the requirements that the new paradigm must satisfy.

The new realities of virtualization and cloud computing

Despite all this bad news, there are some positive trends that support the revitalization of how IT leaders think about data protection and recovery. The virtualization of servers and workloads (operating system, data and application) has broken the ties between services and physical infrastructure. Through virtualization and other technologies, workloads are able to migrate readily between machines within a data center, and between data centers. This has made the specific hardware less important when it comes to service restoration.

nScaled Partners with Riverbed

We recently signed an agreement with Riverbed to add their Zeus software-based load balancers to our price list. Like everything else we offer, the load balancers are offered on a monthly subscription basis, with no up-front costs.

The Zeus load balancers are awesome at handling the heavy load that certain applications have to handle, like SharePoint and other large scale web apps.

nScaled customers subscribing to our primary application hosting service, as well as those using our disaster recovery service, will find implementing the load balancers simple, and will ensure better application performance.

We’re offering six different options based on the throughput required:

Backup is Dead – Introducing the Data Protection Lifecycle, Part 1

We’re very excited to introduce the Data Protection Lifecycle to you. As we’ve deployed our IaaS and Recovery In The Cloud solutions for our customers, we’ve learned a lot about how corporate IT sees the relationship amongst backup, disaster recovery, and archiving. As we thought about it, we realized that we had built a platform that enabled all three of them, and had done so in a way where they were all essentially the same thing, or phases in one continuous process. We call that process the Data Protection Lifecycle (DPL).

In this and the next few blog posts, we’ll lay out our “manifesto” about what the DPL is, how enterprise IT can take advantage of it, and the benefits of its use.

 

Not Only Is Tape Dead, Backup Is Too

I just finished reading a piece of marketing nonsense hoo-hah from Iron Mountain that argues that tape isn’t dead. Methinks Iron Mountain doth protest to much. Let’s see, what’s Iron Mountain’s digital business? Oh, that’s right – tape vaulting. The death of tape, and Iron Mountain’s sudden exit from cloud-based storage and backup, must be cause for alarm in Boston.

Now, before I go any further, let me be clear that yes, I know that tape is being used today, and not technically dead… yet. When nScaled and others proclaim the death of tape, it’s a bit of hyperbole, and we expect people to understand that. But the sentiment, that using tapes for backup has been obsoleted by disk-to-disk technologies, is correct, and we can expect to see the use of tape decline steadily during the next 5-10 years.

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

There’s an amusingly pugnacious post over at ZDNet by Ken Hess that asks why so many people seem to be paranoid about cloud computing.

Hess, with tongue in cheek (I think), conjures images of survivalist loonies in describing the mistrust that some of his readers apparently exhibit towards cloud. That seem like a bit much, but what with all the vendor hype surrounding cloud, I wouldn’t blame buyers for being skeptical.

Tape? Really?

I was just speaking with Brad Wenzel, nScaled’s VP of Channels, and he said something that really struck me. He asked, do I still listen to music on cassette tapes? Of course not, I answered. All my music is digital. Tapes are prone to failure – drop-outs, unspooling, melting in the sun – and they’re linear access, not random access. Everyone has dumped tapes for MP3 players like iPod. Going digital means easier management, backup and recovery of my tunes.

So, Brad, asked, why on earth are IT people still using tapes for backups? It’s the same magnetic particles on the same Mylar tape, with all the same limitations and problems, as with music cassettes. It’s crazy! Why would any company trust it’s intellectual property to a media subject to bit rot? Wikipedia explains bit rot:

Two Kinds of Cloud Infrastructure

I’m just getting around to writing about a terrific post by Rodrigo Flores over at GigaOm about SLAs and cloud infrastructure. Flores neatly articulates something that we have based nScaled on – the importance of the enterprise service agreement and SLAs in cloud, and the factors that make a cloud “enterprise grade.”

Flores starts by pointing out a classic mistake that IT teams make when comparing make-vs-buy decisions: they undervalue their own time, particularly with respect to ensuring that systems are dependable.

Recently, I received an e-mail comparing a customer’s internal storage costs to Amazon’s. Of course, Amazon seems to be cheaper based on a pure gigabyte comparison. But it was a flawed analysis because it didn’t include the service level promised, never mind guaranteed.

Back To School – Disaster Recovery Lessons

The past week and a half have brought us the trifecta of business continuity / disaster recovery (BC/DR) stories: Hurricane Irene, the San Diego blackout, and the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I’ll try not to belabor the point – stuff happens, and business need to be prepared – and instead highlight some of the more important lessons.

Lesson #1 – Disasters happen all the time

It’s unfortunate that our industry refers to “disaster recovery”. The word disaster sounds like something that happens rarely. In our normal lives, that’s true. But in technology, “disaster” has come to mean anything that causes the loss of a server (or more), or some data. And this happens all the time. Aberdeen reported a couple of years ago that more than 60% of business report having 1 to 5 “disasters” every year.

Lesson #2 – Disasters come from all directions

A simple breakdown of the causes of business continuity disruptions:

Backup is NOT Disaster Preparedness

I just got done reading a survey report put out by Symantec on the topic of SMB disaster preparedness. It stated what I think most of already know, that something like 50% of small and midsize businesses (SMB) don’t have a disaster plan. This is a terrible state of affairs, and I applaud Symantec for highlighting the issue with the report.

Much less laudable was Symantec’s recommendation for how SMBs can address the gap. As I read, and then re-read the report to be sure, I realized that all the advice had to do with performing backups of data, and said nothing about doing real disaster recovery.

I’m not surprised, of course – as far as I know, SYMC sell backup software but do not offer any DR solutions. So a piece of marketing collateral like this survey report is bound to support what they sell.

It’s Not a DR Plan If You Don’t Test It

There’s a fine story by Jacob Gsoedl over at SearchDisasterRecovery.com called, “Disaster recovery in the cloud explained” that makes for good reading.

Gsoedl provides a good overview of matters. I would like amplify one topic that I think deserves more emphasis than Gsoedl provides – testing.

As one of our customers recently put it to me, “You don’t actually have a DR plan if you haven’t tested it.” Meaning, you can spend all the time and money you want on a DR solution, but if you don’t test it, then you won’t really know if it works until you experience a disaster. And that’s a lousy time to learn for the first time what gremlins there are in your failover, runbook and failback procedures.