A Backup Website, A WAN Optimization Technology and A Blog Entry

You may be wondering what a backup website, a WAN optimization technology and a blog entry have in common. Under normal conditions, probably nothing. But on a rather slow news week and me finally being in the office for more than two consecutive weeks in about 3 months, I finally had a chance to catch up with both Quantum and a new company called Infineta regarding some recent announcements from both of these companies.

The news from Quantum had less to with Quantum and more to do about a new web site that it recently was part of launching, GetYourFreeBackupScore.com. The name of website is a take-off of the widely advertised FreeCreditScore.com where consumers can get their credit scores for free.

While GetYourFreeBackupScore.com has no such videos of twenty-somethings playing ukuleles, driving around in Yugos or wearing tights (and no plans to do so as far as I know,) it does provide users with the ability to do a free, quick assessment of their backup environment by answering 8 questions, getting a backup score and then seeing how their backup strategy compares to that of other end-users.

To arrive at the score, the website steps user through 8 questions that assess their environment on the following 8 attributes:

  • Backup speed
  • Backup reliability
  • Time spent troubleshooting backups
  • File restore time
  • File restore reliability
  • Site loss protection
  • Site loss protection administration
  • Backup overhead

Users should keep in mind that the website only provides a backup assessment, not an in-depth examination of a company’s backup environment. However in going through and answering each of the 8 questions, each one did a rather good job of gathering and turning subjective information into an objective assessment about one’s backup environment.

In asking about backup speed, it does not ask for details on MBs or GBs per second or how large the network pipes are. Rather it poses the answers to this question in such a way that most administrators are likely to be able to know the answer for their shop and be able to quickly respond. The answers are phrased as “Most of my backups complete each night” or “1 or 2 backups fail each week.

Clearly not very technical but these are answers that individuals are likely to know off-hand regarding the current state of their backup environment. This eliminates the need to go into an in-depth information gathering exercise about their backup environment while still providing a backup score that gives them a sense of how well protected or unprotected they are as well as how prepared they are to do a recovery.

The other company I spoke with this week was Infineta which provides an appliance based WAN optimization solution. However what makes Infineta different from other WAN optimization solutions on the market is that it seeks to optimize the WAN traffic that occurs between corporate data centers..

In speaking with Infineta, its position is that most WAN optimization solutions are designed with an application focus such as to facilitate file sharing or multiple users running the same application at multiple sites – in other words to help branch offices access data in central corporate repositories.

This is not the objective of the Infineta WAN optimization solution as it differs in five key ways:

  • Bandwidth profile. Infineta optimizes high capacity, low latency traffic as opposed to low capacity, high latency network traffic.
  • Connection behavior. Infineta is equipped to handle the bursty, high speed nature of data center to data center traffic as opposed to the steady, low speed nature of user application traffic coming in from remote sites.
  • Nature of traffic.Infineta seeks to optimize traffic between servers in data centers as opposed to between applications in branch and remote offices and data residing in central corporate data repositories.
  • Number of connections. Infineta only seeks to optimize a few hundred connections as opposed to the tens of thousands of connections that other WAN optimization solutions are trying to optimize. Further, using features like deduplication, it only looks to use a 1 Gbps or greater Ethernet links as opposed to sub-1 Gbps Ethernet links.
  • Typical Applications. Today’s WAN optimization solutions typically look to optimize email, file access and ERP traffic. Infineta is going after replication, remote backup and live migration.

Whether or not Infineta survives long term remains to be seen but the solution that it provides is timely. As more enterprise virtualize their environments and centralize their storage, centralizing backup and replicating all of their data offsite for near real time recovery is becoming more affordable and practical. Affordable in that they can use an existing WAN connection that is optimized using Infineta as opposed to introducing new links. Practical in the sense that cloud providers can use multi-tenant storage systems such as HP 3PAR to securely store data from multiple clients on a single array so they can fan-in from multiple sites.

So despite this being a fairly slow news week, there is still innovation percolating in the storage space. Granted, these product announcements were made over the course of the last month, but the July 4th week afforded me some extra time to catch up with these companies and comment on a website and a technology that hopefully my readers will find beneficial.

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