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Using a Single Backup Platform to Protect Enterprise NAS and Oracle Data: Interview with Sepaton’s Director of Product Management, Peter Quirk, Part IV

Oracle databases are found in the data center of the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies as are enterprise NAS solutions. The challenge from a backup perspective is how to effectively protect and store the data associated with these applications when the format of their data types are very different and applications use different storage networking protocols to communicate with them. In this fourth part of my interview series with Sepaton’s Director of Product Management, Peter Quirk, we discuss how its VirtuoSO platform adapts to Oracle and NAS data in backups as well as offers a converged infrastructure backup target to these applications.

Jerome: Why is using post-process important for Oracle environments and how does Oracle take advantage of this functionality on VirtuoSO?

Peter:  The challenge with Oracle databases is getting them backed up within a reasonable time. Sepaton has a number of customers that have come to us because their backups take more than a day.
If it takes more than a day to backup a database, you are always going be falling behind. The way you get around that is to use parallel streams in RMAN to shorten the time to backup. You obviously need more hardware resources in both the system being backed up and the target to be able to accommodate that data flow. But the more streams you apply, the less the time it takes to back it up.
Typically what happens in this environment is that an organization will also employ either multiplexing or data striping for big tables. This results in backup data being smeared across the channels – often in a very unpredictable way. These techniques defeat most inline deduplication engines.
This is why offering post-process provides the highest predictable ingest speed as it removes the need to do deduplication during the backup. Using post process also finds the commonality across these multiple streams which results in great storage savings as well.
Jerome: Why do you see enterprises as using NAS in growing numbers and what steps is Sepaton taking to protect it? 
Peter: Multiple reasons. First, if you believe everything Bob Metcalfe (co-inventor of Ethernet) says, “Ethernet always wins.” It just drives so much volume that the cost of the technology always drops faster than competing technologies like Fibre Channel (FC).
Second, people want to use converged networks to the degree that it is feasible. Managing one network is going to be easier than managing two. Given that we are always going to have a LAN, if an organization can move my storage over the LAN as well, that is a win.
Third is the rise of virtual infrastructure. Whether it is virtual servers, software-defined networking, or unification of storage around IP, it is natural that we would bring out a product with a NAS interface that can connect to virtually everything.
Think about the basic server that organizations buy. If they buy a basic server, it always has a NAS interface. It does not always have a fiber channel interface so there is a FC tax to pay to add FC connectivity for its presumed level of performance.
The truth is that 10Gb Ethernet interfaces are basically good enough. They give organizations this tremendous flexibility to deal with a variety of protocols. 10Gb Ethernet can run CIFS, FCoE, FTP, HTTP, iSCSI, NFS, and OST and be managed through a common switch infrastructure. It was a no brainer for Sepaton to come out with a NAS interface.
The FC infrastructure that is out there will continue to be used. FC has a road map to 16Gb and Sepaton is seeing a lot of early deployments of it plus there is another step up (32Gb) beyond that. Sepaton will introduce a FC interface on the system around the time of our second release as organizations want unified solutions.
FC is not going to unify the network. However organizations certainly want to unify the target and want it to support both FC and Ethernet protocols. Sepaton already has a lot of customers that run OST over IP and there are some that want to run OST over fiber channel as they own their own dark fiber. It makes sense for them to preserve their investment in FC protocols so Sepaton will support all modes of connectivity over time.

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