Random Short Take #50

Happy new year and welcome to Random Short Take #50. Sure, it seems like I’ve done a lot of these recently, and they should probably be newsletters, not blog posts. But whatever. A few players have worn 50 in the NBA including father and son Greg and Cole Anthony. My pick is David Robinson though. Let’s get random.

  • I was interested to read about the Pi 400 when it was first announced, so it was good to be able to read Preston’s review of the device here. There’s also a useful initial impressions post here.
  • Scale Computing recently announced profitability, and this article from Chris Evans digs a little deeper into what that all means.
  • The good folks at Backblaze recently published a roundup of its hard drive stats for 2020 and it makes for some interesting reading. Notably, Backblaze now has 162530 spinning drives and 3000 boot drives in service, and over 3000 “pods” in service now.
  • Speaking of data protection, Zerto announced some good news from the Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice. You can read more about that here. I’m a big fan of Zerto, and I’d like to see the company successfully navigate whatever is gong on with it at the moment.
  • I’m a fan of Rancher, and Longhorn, and thought this news item on what Longhorn is doing at the edge was pretty neat.
  • Working with VMware Cloud Foundation and need to do some bundle updates offline? This article might be helpful.
  • The Ringer recently published a list of 50 best cult movies that you can read here. Gleaming the Cube was notable for its absence, but these things can’t always be 100% correct.
  • I was fortunate enough to attend Storage Field Day 21 recently. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on that over the next few weeks, but in the meantime you can read Georgina’s wrap-up of the event here.

Random Short Take #49

Happy new year and welcome to Random Short Take #49. Not a great many players have worn 49 in the NBA (2 as it happens). It gets better soon, I assure you. Let’s get random.

  • Frederic has written a bunch of useful articles around useful Rubrik things. This one on setting up authentication to use Active Directory came in handy recently. I’ll be digging in to some of Rubrik’s multi-tenancy capabilities in the near future, so keep an eye out for that.
  • In more things Rubrik-related, this article by Joshua Stenhouse on fully automating Rubrik EDGE / AIR deployments was great.
  • Speaking of data protection, Chris Colotti wrote this useful article on changing the Cloud Director database IP address. You can check it out here.
  • You want more data protection news? How about this press release from BackupAssist talking about its partnership with Wasabi?
  • Fine, one more data protection article. Six backup and cloud storage tips from Backblaze.
  • Speaking of press releases, WekaIO has enjoyed some serious growth in the last year. Read more about that here.
  • I loved this article from Andrew Dauncey about things that go wrong and learning from mistakes. We’ve all likely got a story about something that went so spectacularly wrong that you only made that mistake once. Or twice at most. It also reminds me of those early days of automated ESX 2.5 builds and building magical installation CDs that would happily zap LUN 0 on FC arrays connected to new hosts. Fun times.
  • Finally, I was lucky enough to talk to Intel Senior Fellow Al Fazio about what’s happening with Optane, how it got to this point, and where it’s heading. You can read the article and check out the video here.

Rubrik Basics – Cluster Shutdown

It’s been a little while since I’ve done any hands-on work with Rubrik, but I recently had to jump on a cluster and power it down so it could be relocated. The process is simple (particularly if you have the correct credentials), but I’m noting it here more for my own reference than anything else. It’s important to note that if you’re running a version of CDM pre-5.1 and have the cluster shutdown for longer than 24 hours, it will be sad when it comes back online and you’ll need support’s help to get it back online. Note also that 5.1 introduced a new command line structure (support site registration required), so the command is slightly different. This page also has a bunch of useful, publicly visible information.

If you’re not in the DC with the cluster, ssh to one of the nodes to run the commands. For pre-5.1 environments, run

poweroff_cluster

For 5.1 and newer environments, run

cluster poweroff_cluster

Type yes to continue and you should be good to go.

Here’s a picture of one I prepared earlier.

Exciting? Not really. But useful to know when people are threatening to power off equipment regardless of the state it’s in.

Random Short Take #47

Welcome to Random Short Take #47. Not a great many players have worn 47 in the NBA, but Andrei “AK-47” Kirilenko did. So let’s get random.

  • I’ve been doing some stuff with Runecast in my day job, so this post over at Gestalt IT really resonated.
  • I enjoyed this article from Alastair on AWS Design, and the mention of “handcrafted perfection” in particular has put an abrupt end to any yearning I’d be doing to head back into the enterprise fray.
  • Speaking of AWS, you can now hire Mac mini instances. Frederic did a great job of documenting the process here.
  • Liking VMware Cloud Foundation but wondering if you can get it via your favourite public cloud provider? Wonder no more with this handy reference from Simon Long.
  • Ransomware. Seems like everyone’s doing it. This was a great article on the benefits of the air gap approach to data protection. Remember, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
  • Speaking of data protection and security, BackupAssist Classic v11 launched recently. You can read the press release here.
  • Using draw.io but want to use some VVD stencils? Christian has the scoop here.
  • Speaking of VMware Cloud Director, Steve O has a handy guide on upgrading to 10.2 that you can read here.

Druva Update – Q3 2020

I caught up with my friend W. Curtis Preston from Druva a little while ago to talk about what the company has been up to. It seems like quite a bit, so I thought I’d share some notes here.

 

DXP and Company Update

Firstly, Druva’s first conference, DXP, is coming up shortly. There’s an interesting range of topics and speakers, and it looks to be jam packed with useful info. You can find out more and register for that here. The company seems to be going from strength to strength, enjoying 50% year-on-year growth, and 70% for Phoenix in particular (its DC product).

If you’re into Gartner Peer Insights – Druva has taken out the top award in 3 categories – file analysis, DRaaS, and data centre backup. Preston also tells me Druva is handling around 5 million backups a day, for what it’s worth. Finally, if you’re into super fluffy customer satisfaction metrics, Druva is reporting an “industry-leading NPS score of 88” that has been third-party verified.

 

Product News

It’s Fun To Read The CCPA

If you’re unfamiliar, California has released its version of the GDPR, know as the California Consumer Privacy Act. Druva has created a template for data types that shouldn’t be stored in plain text and can flag them as they’re backed up. It can also do the same thing in email, and you can now do a federated search against both of these things. If anything turns up that shouldn’t be there, you can go and remove problematic files.

ServiceNow Automation

Druva now has support for automated SNOW ticket creation. It’s based on some advanced logic, too. For example, if a backup fails 3 times, a ticket will be created and can be routed to the people who should be caring about such things.

More APIs

There’s been a lot of done work to deliver more APIs, and a more robust RBAC implementation.

DRaaS

DRaaS is currently only for VMware, VMC, and AWS-based workloads. Preston tells me that users are getting an RTO of 15-20 minutes, and an RPO of 1 hour. Druva added failback support a little while ago (one VM at a time). That feature has now been enhanced, and you can failback as many workloads as you want. You can also add a prefix or suffix to a VM name, and Druva has added a failover prerequisite check as well.

 

Other Notes

In other news, Druva is now certified on VMC on Dell. It’s added support for Microsoft Teams and support for Slack. Both useful if you’ve stopped storing your critical data in email and started storing it in collaboration apps instead.

Storage Insights and Recommendations

There’s also a storage insights feature that is particularly good for unstructured data. Say, for example, that 30% of your backups are media files, you might not want to back them up (unless you’re in the media streaming business, I guess). You can delete bad files from backups, and automatically create an exclusion for those file types.

Support for K8s

Support for everyone’s favourite container orchestration system has been announced, not yet released. Read about that here. You can now do a full backup of an entire K8s environment (AWS only in v1). This includes Docker containers, mounted volumes, and DBs referenced in those containers.

NAS Backup

Druva has enhanced its NAS backup in two ways, the first of which is performance. Preston tells me the current product is at least 10X faster than one year ago. Also, for customers already using a native recovery mechanism like snapshots, Druva has also added the option to backup directly to Glacier, which cuts your cost in half.

Oracle Support

For Oracle, Druva has what Preston describes as “two solid options”. Right now there’s an OVA that provides a ready to go, appliance-like experience, uses the image copy format (supporting block-level incremental, and incremental merge). The other option will be announced next week at DxP.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Some of these features seem like incremental improvements, but when you put it all together, it makes for some impressive reading. Druva has done a really impressive job, in my opinion, of sticking with the built in the cloud, for the cloud mantra that dominates much of its product design. The big news is the support for K8s, but things like multi-VM failback with the DRaaS solution is nothing to sneeze at. There’s more news coming shortly, and I look forward to covering that. In the meantime, if you have the time, be sure to check out DXP – I think it will be quite an informative event.

 

 

Random Short Take #46

Welcome to Random Short Take #46. Not a great many players have worn 46 in the NBA, but one player who has is one of my favourite Aussie players: Aron “Bangers” Baynes. So let’s get random.

  • Enrico recently attended Cloud Field Day 9, and had some thoughts on NetApp’s identity in the new cloud world. You can read his insights here.
  • This article from Chris Wahl on multi-cloud design patterns was fantastic, and well worth reading.
  • I really enjoyed this piece from Russ on technical debt, and some considerations when thinking about how we can “future-proof” our solutions.
  • The Raspberry Pi 400 was announced recently. My first computer was an Amstrad CPC 464, so I have a real soft spot for jamming computers inside keyboards.
  • I enjoyed this piece from Chris M. Evans on hybrid storage, and what it really means nowadays.
  • Working from home a bit this year? Me too. Tom wrote a great article on some of the security challenges associated with the new normal.
  • Everyone has a quadrant nowadays, and Zerto has found itself in another one recently. You can read more about that here.
  • Working with VMware Cloud Director and wanting to build a custom theme? Check out this article.

Random Short Take #45

Welcome to Random Short Take #45. The number 45 has taken a bit of a beating in terms of popularity in recent years, but a few pretty solid players have nonetheless worn 45 in the NBA, including MJ and The Rifleman. My favourite from this list is A.C. Green (“slam so hard, break your TV screen“). So let’s get random.

Zerto Announces 8.5 and Zerto Data Protection

Zerto recently announced 8.5 of its product, along with a new offering, Zerto Data Protection (ZDP). I had the good fortune to catch up with Caroline Seymour (VP, Product Marketing) about the news and thought I’d share some thoughts here.

 

ZDP, Yeah You Know Me

Global Pandemic for $200 Please, Alex

In “these uncertain times”, organisations are facing new challenges

  • No downtime, no data loss, 24/7 availability
  • Influx of remote work
  • Data growth and sprawl
  • Security threats
  • Acceleration of cloud

Many of these things were already a problem, and the global pandemic has done a great job highlighting them.

“Legacy Architecture”

Zerto paints a bleak picture of the “legacy architecture” adopted by many of the traditional dat protection solutions, positing that many IT shops need to use a variety of tools to get to a point where operations staff can sleep better at night. Disaster recovery, for example, is frequently handled via replication for mission-critical applications, with backup being performed via periodic snapshots for all other applications. ZDP aims to being all this together under one banner of continuous data protection, delivering:

  • Local continuous backup and long-term retention (LTR) to public cloud; and
  • Pricing optimised for backup.

[image courtesy of Zerto]

Features

[image courtesy of Zerto]

So what do you get with ZDP? Some neat features, including:

  • Continuous backup with journal
  • Instant restore from local journal
  • Application consistent recovery
  • Short-term SLA policy settings
  • Intelligent index and search
  • LTR to disk, object or Cloud (Azure, AWS)
  • LTR policies, daily incremental with weekly, monthly or yearly fulls
  • Data protection workflows

 

New Licensing

It wouldn’t be a new software product without some mention of new licensing. If you want to use ZDP, you get:

  • Backup for short-term retention and LTR;
  • On-premises or backup to cloud;
  • Analytics; and
  • Orchestration and automation for backup functions.

If you’re sticking with (the existing) Zerto Cloud Edition, you get:

  • Everything in ZDP;
  • Disaster Recovery for on-premises and cloud;
  • Multi-cloud support; and
  • Orchestration and automation.

 

Zerto 8.5

A big focus of Zerto’s recently has been VMware on public cloud support, including the various flavours of VMware on Azure, AWS, and Oracle Cloud. There are a bunch of reasons why this approach has proven popular with existing VMware customers looking to migrate from on-premises to public cloud, including:

  • Native VMware support – run existing VMware workloads natively on IaaS;
  • Policies and configuration don’t need to change;
  • Minimal changes – no need to refactor applications; and
  • IaaS benefits- reliability, scale, and operational model.

[image courtesy of Zerto]

New in 8.5

With 8.5, you can now backup directly to Microsoft Azure and AWS. You also get instant file and folder restores to production. There’s now support for VMware on public cloud disaster recovery and data protection for Microsoft Azure VMware Solution, Google Cloud VMware Engine, and the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. You also get platform automation and lifecycle management features, including:

  • Auto-evacuate for recovery hosts;
  • Auto-populate for recovery hosts; and
  • Encryption capabilities.

And finally, a Zerto PowerShell Cmdlets Module has also been released.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

The writing’s been on the wall for some time that Zerto might need to expand its solution offering to incorporate backup and recovery. Continuous data protection is a great feature and my experience with Zerto has been that it does what it says on the tin. The market, however, is looking for ways to consolidate solution offerings in order to save a few more dollarydoos and keep the finance department happy. I haven’t seen the street pricing for ZDP, but Seymour seemed confident that it stacks up well against the more traditional data protection options on the market, particularly when compared against offerings that incorporate components that deal with CDP and periodic data protection with different tools. There’s a new TCO calculator on the Zerto website, and there’s also the opportunity to talk to a Zerto account representative about your particular needs.

I’ve always treated regular backup and recovery and disaster recovery as very different things, mainly because they are. Companies frequently make the mistake of trying to cobble together some kind of DR solution using traditional backup and recovery tools. I’m interested to see how Zerto goes with this approach. It’s not the first company to converge elements that fit in the data protection space together, and it will be interesting to see how much of the initial uptake of ZDP is with existing customers or net new logos. The broadening of support for the VMware on X public cloud workloads is good news for enterprises too (putting aside my thoughts on whether or not that’s a great long term strategy for said enterprises). There’s some interesting stuff happening, and I’m looking forward to see how the story unfolds over the next 6 – 12 months.

Random Short Take #44

Welcome to Random Short Take #44. A few players have worn 44 in the NBA, including Danny Ainge and Pistol Pete, but my favourite from this list is Keith Van Horn.  A nice shooting touch and strong long sock game. Let’s get random.

  • ATMs are just computers built to give you money. And it’s scary to think of the platforms that are used to deliver that functionality. El Reg pointed out a recent problem with one spotted in the wild in Ngunnawal.
  • Speaking of computing at the edge, I found this piece from Keith interesting. As much as things change they stay the same. I think he’s spot on when he says “[m]anufacturers and technology companies must come together with modular solutions that enable software upgrades for these assets’ lives”. We need to be demanding more from the industry when it comes to some of this stuff.
  • Heard about Project Monterey at VMworld and wanted to know more? Pensando has you covered.
  • I enjoyed this article from Preston about the difference between bunkers and vaults – worth checking out even if you’re not a Dell EMC customer.
  • Cloud – it can be tough to know which way to go. And a whole bunch of people have an interest in you using their particular solution. This article from Chris Evans was particularly insightful.
  • DH2i has launched DxOdyssey for IoT – you can read more about that here.
  • Speaking of news, Retrospect recently announced Backup 17.5 too. There are some cloud improvements, and support for macOS Big Sur beta.
  • It’s the 30th anniversary of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby“, and like me you were probably looking for a comprehensive retrospective on Vanilla Ice’s career. Look no further than this article over at The Ringer.

Random Short Take #43

Welcome to Random Short Take #43. A few players have worn 43 in the NBA, including Frank Brickowski, but my favourite from this list is Red Kerr (more for his commentary chops than his game, I think).  Let’s get random.

  • Mike Wilson has published Part 2 of his VMware VCP 2020 Study Guide and it’s a ripper. Check it out here. I try to duck and weave when it comes to certification exams nowadays, but these kind of resources are invaluable.
  • It’s been a while since I had stick time with Data Domain OS, but Preston’s article on password hardening was very useful.
  • Mr Foskett bought a cloud, of sorts. Read more about that here. Anyone who knows Stephen knows that he’s all about what’s talking about what’s happening in the industry, but I do enjoy reading about these home projects as well.
  • Speaking of clouds, Rancher was named “A Leader” in multi-cloud container development platforms by an independent research firm. You can read the press release here.
  • Datadobi had a good story to share about what it did with UMass Memorial Health Care. You can read the story here.
  • Steve O has done way too much work understanding how to change the default theme in Veeam Enterprise Manager 10 and documenting the process so you don’t need to work it out. Read about the process here.
  • Speaking of data protection, Zerto has noticed Azure adoption increasing at quite a pace, amongst other things.
  • This was a great article on open source storage from Chin-Fah.