New technology always sounds great on the surface. However the ramifications of implementing and then managing it can be daunting, intimidating or both. Yet in the case of next generation backup and recovery tools, the improvements it provides over traditional backup can be so dramatic that NOT adopting and implementing them out is worse than trying to make existing backup software work in today’s virtualized, real-time environments. In this second installment of my interview series with Dell Software’s General Manager, Data Protection, Brett Roscoe, we discuss why it is imperative organizations move ahead with next generation backup and recovery tools.
Jerome: Many end-users have almost become accustomed to operating in crisis mode, whether it’s managing tape backups, managing this deluge of data or trying to meet application RTOs or RPOs. So how do they even get started on utilizing next generation backup and recovery tools as, in the back of their mind, they are probably concerned about making some mistakes? Maybe not deliberately, but if they do not understand their full capabilities, they may not necessarily know how to best implement or manage them correctly. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Brett: Absolutely. It’s an interesting situation because the biggest mistake I see really isn’t related to implementation of new capabilities. Instead, the biggest mistake I see is that too often customers are not thinking about utilizing next-generation backup in the first place. That is usually the bigger problem. We are all creatures of habit, and we all tend to move down a line of, “Hey, I am looking to decrease my backup windows and speed up my current processes.” As opposed to wiping the slate clean and saying, “I am going to re-architect this thing and eliminate backup windows and nightly backups altogether.” Or, “I am going to rethink the method and speed of recovery by utilizing some of these new technologies,” and, “I need to re-think how to design my solution around my new virtual infrastructure or cloud-based infrastructure.”
Overlooking the vast capabilities that exist today is probably the most common mistake. Customers can actually utilize a Dell backup and recovery solution to run their primary application during down time, which is something that you really cannot do with a lot of our competitors. With Dell, customers can do things like:
- Test and verify their backup points.
- Rapid recovery of an entire image or a single mailbox or a single email.
- Actually run their application while they are restoring it.
- Run their entire application from their backup server or cloud provider
Those are really advanced capabilities that not all customers are thinking about just yet. When you start to think about these things, you can see how customers can quickly simplify their environment by moving from a fragmented solution that uses multiple tools and applications to meet business service level agreements (SLAs) for uptime and recovery, to using one or two tools that can actually protect and meet the service level agreements (SLAs). In addition to just being simpler to manage, there’s an economic benefit to consolidating backup and DR into one application rather than maintaining separate tools, one that often far outweighs any of the initial concerns a customer might have about re-architecting.
Having said that, Dell has many customers who are using next generation backup tools, and for those customers who have taken that key first step of embracing new capabilities, the next step is to determine how to best align those capabilities with your specific business needs. For example, new technologies can provide five minute RPOs, by creating an application snapshot every five minutes. They can even keep all those five minute increments forever. While customers can do that, they may not necessarily want to do that.
In fact, Dell provides a lot of tools for them to tailor how many copies they keep over time. So the first day you may keep them every five minutes. The first week you may keep them every hour. Beyond the first week or month, they may fall back to daily snapshots, and then continue to throttle it back from there.
But I see customers who say, “I am going to create snapshots every five minutes on every application running in my environment and keep them forever.” Even the best compression and deduplication technology backed by the best CPUs and memory probably come under pressure when you start taking snapshots of 1,000 applications every five minutes and keep every one of them forever.
A better approach is take an inventory of the environment and say, “Here are my critical applications, here are my secondary, less critical applications, and then determine how to tailor the level of protection I am providing to those applications.” In this way, customers can get the level of data protection and recovery they need for each application, while reducing the amount of IT infrastructure they need and the load on their network to perform all of these operations.
In Part I of my interview series with Brett Roscoe we discuss the biggest backup and recovery challenges that enterprises face.
In Part III of this interview series, Brett and I will discuss four (4) best practices that companies should be implementing now to align the new capabilities in next gen backup and recovery tools with internal business processes.
In Part IV of this interview series, Brett and I will discuss the main technologies in which customers are currently expressing the most interest.
In Part V of this interview series, Brett and I examine whether or not one backup software product can “do it all” from a backup and recovery perspective.
In Part VI of this interview series, Brett and I discuss Dell’s growing role as a software provider.
In Part VII of this interview series, Brett provides an in-depth explanation of Dell’s data protection portfolio.
In Part VIII of this interview series, Brett and I discuss the trend of vendors bundling different but complementary data protections products together in a single product suite.