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Retention Data: A New Category of Data? Interview with Asigra CEO David Farajun

This blog entry is the second in a series of interviews with David Farajun, Asigra’s CEO, where David looks at how Asigra Televaulting addresses new corporate concerns around information data protection and information recovery.

In this entry, David explains why an appropriately configured Data Collector is so important to data protection and information recovery and what features Asigra has introduced into Televaulting in time to ensure its Data Collectors are appropriately configured in order to optimize the management and placement of data long term. David also shares his views on the use of removable media in data protection and information recovery.

Jerome: Why it is so important to appropriately configure the Data Collector and what can happen if it is inappropriately configured?

David: A new Data Collector introduced into a client environment can be a powerful piece of hardware that will interact with applications on physical and virtual machines across the company’s environment. Asigra’s Data Collector software (also called DS-Client) uses an agentless architecture, so it is less intrusive when introduced into a customer’s environment. The agentless DS-Client does not require any other software installed on the source machines it will protect.

A data collector that is configured inappropriately may not allow an enterprise to finish their backup of data during the backup window or to restore the lost data according to the company’s SLAs.

One of the challenges encountered by customers when installing any backup and recovery solution in their environment is sizing the Data Collector and sizing the storage for their backed up data.

Asigra has developed the LAN discovery tool in Televaulting that addresses these issues so it can, so to speak, measure how deep the water is in the pool before it starts protecting any servers in the environment. Still using its agentless architecture, it scans each server for the number of files on it and examines multiple parameters on each file (attributes such as the file’s size, number of shares, last access date, last modified date, etc.). By gathering this data for 1 – 2 weeks, it can help companies build a profile of their environment and then put in place intelligent SLAs on the Data Collector. These SLAs will adjust requests for data and input for data based on the customer environment.

Jerome: If the Data Collector has this level information about the files on the servers, what options does that provide companies for managing their data after it is backed up and stored?

David: Asigra sees data broken into two general categories: Critical, or business continuity; and Important, or archived. However Asigra would like to create a new “Retention” category of data. The reason Asigra seeks to create this new category is that if 80% of data that is protected is never or rarely accessed again, why put it on Fibre Channel or even SATA drives that are constantly spinning and consuming power?

Asigra’s customers do not want to pay $5/month per GB for data that they will never access again. By classifying the data, our clients can define the value of the data and place it on the appropriate tier of disk. In so doing, customers may find they can “park” 80% of this retention data on readily accessible but low cost MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks) storage systems that spin down disk drives or entire disk arrays when they are not in use.

Jerome: Does Asigra have any plans for the management of removable media such as tape?

David: If you add tape, you have to multiply the recovery time objective by a factor of 10 and Asigra’s whole focus is to reduce recovery time and costs. Tape has a number of soft costs so you need to include tape hardware and handling to arrive at the true cost of restoring data. You also don’t know much about the environment where the tape cartridge is stored which can also lead to problems. Hard-disk drives running at low speeds on MAID technology can keep power costs down and, using intelligent controllers, this technology can reconstruct the disks should they fail.

Jerome: What about removable disk drives?

David: If you put removable disks on the shelf, what happens to the oil and bearings? It is better to pay a little more in electricity costs to make sure the disk is useable and the data is recoverable.

In part 1 of this series, David discussed how he has seen the data protection market evolve over the last 20 years.

In part 3 of this series, David takes a look at what options Asigra has in Televaulting Data Collectors so they can share backup jobs across different machines and how Data Collectors can discover new virtual machines as they are created.


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