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Simplify Data Protection

Enterprise data agility with comprehensive data protection, while allowing consolidation...

Written on: Apr 22, 2021 11:33:46 AM

Written by: Alex Raben


[Data Infrastructure, Commvault, COOLSPIRiT, Pure Storage]

Yes, data protection in storage arrays has been available for many years - maybe the pioneer 'back in the day' was a very well know NAS provider who heavily used snapshots to protect data held on the storage appliance. And even before snapshots, tape has played a key role in data centre and the protection of data - who remembers time-consuming NDMP backups? And then after both of these, we witnessed the birth of deduplication, which first made its arrival in the form of a purpose-built backup appliance.

Fast forward to 2021 and we all have the same pressures as before in terms of ensuring data can be restored as soon as possible - sometimes down to a system error, but most likely due to a user restore request. However, the world we live in now is moving faster than ever, meaning expectation are even higher, but to add to the complexity - data doesn't just reside in a central data centre anymore and this means IT teams need to ensure the protection and recoverability of data wherever it resides. The game is on for all IT departments to ensure the best possible data protection strategies to be implemented...

Obviously, the main reason for solid data protection and DR strategies is to prevent downtime or keep it to an absolute minimum. A recent study by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), who researched the implications of application downtimefound that loss of revenue had the most impact to an organisation where application downtime or lost data has occurred. Just another pressure on the shoulders of IT teams.

We're sure you're already fully aware of the pressures discussed, but we quite often find that data protection can be very subject to 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' or 'we have more pressing projects on the go'. What if you could implement a storage system with data protection built into its fabric, with a validated backup infrastructure for 'belt and braces' - meaning you don't have to solely rely on your backup infrastructure all the time? If you'd like to learn more, then read on...

Let's look at the details, advice and options to create an enterprise data protection strategy

Firstly, it's important to transform your thinking from backup to restore. Yes, thinking about backup is logical - more data is backed up than is restored. But given the increasing business value of data and the cost of downtime then restore is more critical than backup. It is wise to identify your mission-critical data and associated costs to your business of not having that data available - to evaluate technologies that can meet the restore SLAs required long term is a great way to look at this.

Whenever we ask at "how long will it take to backup" and how "quickly can we recover" then we need to work out RPO & RTO requirements:

  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO): This is defined as “your company’s loss tolerance: the amount of data that can be lost before significant harm to the business occurs” 
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO): This can be defined as “how much time an application can be down without causing significant damage to the business

To help meet RPO & RTO objectives, let's consider the available options, which have been predominantly utilised.

Replication Technologies - Storage vendors have been providing these technologies for some time. This allows storage to take copies while in production and send those copies to alternative storage, often in a different location. Integration is also provided for the applications, allowing the application to use the alternative copy if a failure occurs.

Hardware Snapshots - Provided by hardware array vendors as a very quick way of providing a recoverable copy of an application. Snapshots, also known as or clones, can be created in seconds with little performance impact on the application, and they are typically attached to the storage array from which they’re created. Multiple snapshots can be generated throughout the day, which greatly improves the recovery point objective. 

Disk-based Backup: As discussed already, disk-based backup has been in use for many years - its uptake started with the advent of cost-effective SATA disks in the early 2000’s. This allowed IT teams to introduce “disk” staging, where backups would go to disk first and then be moved to tape for long-term storage. 

Disk-based Backup Appliances: After the significant use of SATA disk for backup, the backup environment was disrupted again in the mid to late 2000’s by Purpose-Built Backup Appliances (PBBAs). These appliances delivered deduplication which enabled IT departments to store smaller amounts of backup data while protecting remote offices efficiently - all due to deduplication.

Tape: Tape technology has long been the mainstay of Enterprise data protection. Before backup appliances, data would be sent over a network from primary storage and written to tape. Often tapes were duplicated and one or more copies were shipped off-site to a second location. More lately tape has become the 'belt and braces' & 'last resort copy' - but a trusted one at that.

Public Cloud: Today, cloud usage is on the agenda of every CTO. One of the most common use cases of public cloud is long term repository for backup data. Backup software vendors have built various layers of integration with public cloud vendors so backups can be sent to the cloud for storage. In certain scenarios, the public cloud is replacing tape as a means of providing a disaster recovery copy.

The above options each have their own advantages and disadvantages, in regards to RPO/RTO - If you want to deep dive into this, let's set up a call with a COOLSPIRiT expert!

So, what if you could get the best of all worlds from the above? With technology from Pure Storage, you can...

While legacy storage solutions have been known for excessive maintenance renewals, operational complexity, disruptive upgrades with forced data migrations, and other flaws, Pure has always focused on doing things differently - and getting it right. Data Protection is a prime example. Some vendors charge extra (and still do) for critical protection features like synchronous replication. The idea of charging extra for “luxury” features seem to be acceptable within some vendors - for Pure it isn't. Pure has never charged extra for modern data protection features. They’re always included; as a customer, you can access any new features in the next release with standard maintenance. For example, when ActiveDR continuous replication was delivered through the FlashArray Purity operating environment - it was available free - Just kick off a simple software update to start using that new functionality. No additional costs and no service disruption during the upgrade. 

Let's look at the details of what Pure offer 'out-of-the-box', in regards to data protection requirements, and how they do it:

  • Business Continuity
    • ActiveCluster - Synchronous replication
      • Delivering real-time array failover
  • Disaster Recovery
    • ActiveDR - Continuous replication
      • Delivering Near Zero RPO
  • Near-Term Recovery
    • Replication - Asynchronous replication
      • Delivering periodic data copy to DR site, COLO or 3rd party.
  • Data Archiving
    • Cloud Integration - Snapshot offload
      • Delivering long-term storage in cloud or NFS targets
  • Local Protection
    • Snapshots - Lightweight and immutable snapshots
      • Delivering fast protection and recovery

All the above is delivered by the Pure1 Management system, which includes predictive support & Purity REST APIs for automation. 

As you can see, with technology from Pure you have all the bases covered for your data protection requirements - while allowing consolidation of all your ageing systems into a modern data platform.

However, before we move on let's just take a quick look at an example of why data protection shouldn't be complicated with the flexible architecture of Pure's FlashArray. We're sure you have asked yourself before - "Why are some data-protection operations so difficult to set up and manage?". FlashArray is simple. You configure ActiveDR like this:

  1. Create a “Pod” (a logical container for volumes you want to protect). 
  2. Add volumes to the Pod, either newly created or existing volumes.
  3. Create a replica link between the source and the target Pod. The wizard creates a target Pod during the setup process.
  4. Get lunch because you’re done! 

Data begins to replicate as soon as the setup is complete. After the initial baseline copy, it automatically shifts into continuous replication mode for any new data writes. Done. With legacy storage vendors, you may have found yourself spending more time trying to wade through the setup documentation and getting nowhere than it would take you to configure ActiveDR from start to finish. 

If you’re tired of struggling with enterprise storage data protection that’s expensive and complicated, maybe it’s with considering technology from Pure...


Finally, let's look out one step further... Protect your Pure & Public Cloud infrastructure with COOLSPIRiT's GUARDiAN Appliances, powered by Commvault...

With over 15 years of experience designing, implementing and supporting Commvault, within enterprise environments, COOLSPIRiT has developed the GUARDiAN Appliance - available in three flavours, all ratified with Commvault and support by the GUARDiAN support team:

  • GUARDiAN Appliance
    • Protecting any data and any platform
    • Protecting 10TB to 100TB from a single appliance, which can be grouped for scalability.
    • Available in 2U or 4U format
  • GUARDiAN HS-X Appliance
    • Built to run Commvault's HyperScale software
    • Offering incremental storage growth up to 5PB of capacity within a single deduplicated storage pool.
    • Available in 2U or 4U format
  • GUARDiAN Office 365 Appliance
    • Designed to protect all your Office 365 data
    • Protecting 10TB to 100TB from a single appliance, with comprehensive cloud support.
    • Available in 2U or 4U format

Built on Commvault’s industry-leading technology along with COOLSPIRiT’s market-leading expert engineering and support services, its flexible architecture grows with your needs while improving performance, scalability & resiliency. This validated solution is pre-designed, built, installed and supported by our Commvault Master Certified engineers, saving you time in hardware acquisition, installation, integration and daily management.

Because these appliances are powered by Commvault, and with their relationship with Pure, you can be assured of a validated solution to safeguard your mission-critical, highest-risk data. 

However, if you also wanted to use your investment in Pure hardware as a backup target, no problem!

Recently, Pure announced the release of a Validated Design using FlashBlade with Commvault to simplify the design, deployment, and operation of the solution. The Pure Validated Design provides the next big step as Pure and Commvault continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in data protection. Together they've created an optimised solution designed to deliver superior data protection for your highest-risk data. The Commvault Pure Validated Design utilises Pure Storage FlashBlade with a Commvault powered appliance; such as our GUARDiAN Appliance. You can be up and running within minutes. Simply follow the PVD’s comprehensive deployment guide to configure FlashBlade as a backup target for Commvault and you’re ready to start protecting your mission-critical data and applications.

By utilising Flashblade within a Commvault data protection environment, you will gain the ability to:

  • Restore consolidated SMB/NFS, at speeds of 1TB per minute or faster:
    • Remove the complexity of data protection management:
    • Meet data protection and recovery SLA's and avoid penalties and compliance failures with scalable, predictable and enterprise performance without compromise.
  • Distribute data protection with native and embedded replication of both FIle and Object data:
    • Reduced complexity
    • No replication or protocol licenses required
    • No additional third party software or hardware drag required.
  • Protect and consolidated business recovery over fast object (S3):
    • Object based backup and recovery Integrated with leading data protection independent software vendors such as Commvault.
    • No changes required to the host OS/applications i.e. windows/linux etc 
  • Built on a true scale-out architecture:
    • Scale performance capacity, bandwidth and availability, dynamically, in real time and independently to the compute/protection tier
    •  All hardware and software upgrades are application transparent and remove the need for change control and maintenance windows
  • Native, comprehensive and embedded replication technologies for both file and object:
    • On premise, private cloud and in a hybrid cloud environment with native replication and DR protection to AWS
    • Consolidate multiple application protection into one simplistic and intuitive interface 
  • Ransomware protection:
    • Native and embedded Ransomware protection
    • Immutable and unencryptable, efficient, automated SafeMode Snapshots 
    • Embedded with replication if required
    • Protocol agnostic 
    • No agents, software licenses or third party and additional hardware requirements 
    • Intrinsically simplistic, whilst offering mission critical protection and data availability

When leveraging the advanced data-compression and deduplication capabilities of Commvault Backup & Recovery software with Pure's intelligent replication you will have the solid protection foundation you need, with true business continuity, helping you be sure you can meet your growth demands for now and tomorrow...

We hope you have found this blog useful and inspire you to make changes that will deliver tangible business benefits. The protection of critical data against failure is a task which, unfortunately, has to be front of mind for all IT professionals today - and when it is delivered as a consolidated solution we believe this is true industry-leading offering.

If you would like to talk simply call our expert team on 01246 454 222 or email hello@coolspirit.co.uk

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