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.

BackupAssist Announces BackupAssist ER

BackupAssist recently announced BackupAssist ER. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Linus Chang (CEO), Craig Ryan, and Madeleine Tan about the announcement.

 

BackupAssist

Founded in 2001, BackupAssist is focussed primarily on the small to medium enterprise (under 500 seats). They sell the product via a variety of mechanisms, including:

  • Direct
  • Partners
  • Distribution channels

 

Challenges Are Everywhere

Some of the challenges faced by the average SME when it comes to data protection include the following:

  • Malware
  • COVID-19
  • Compliance

So what does the average SME need when it comes to selecting a data protection solution?

  • Make it affordable
  • Automatic offsite backups with history and retention
  • Most recoveries are local – make them fast!
  • The option to recover in the cloud if needed (the fallback to the fallback)

 

What Is It?

So what exactly is BackupAssist ER? It’s backup and recovery software.

[image courtesy of BackupAssist]

It’s deployed on Windows servers, and has support for disk to disk to cloud as a protection topology.

CryptoSafeGuard

Another cool feature is CryptoSafeGuard, providing the following features:

  • Shield from unauthorised access
  • Detect – Alert – Preserve

Disaster Recovery

  • VM Instant boot (converting into a Hyper-V guest)
  • BMR (catering for dissimilar hardware)
  • Download cloud backup anywhere

Data Recovery

The product supports the granular recovery of files, Exchange, and applications.

Data Handling and Control

A key feature of the solution is the approach to data handling, offering:

  • Accessibility
  • Portability
  • Retention

It uses the VHDX file format to store protection data. It can also backup to Blob storage. Chang also advised that they’re working on introducing S3 compatibility at some stage.

Retention

The product supports a couple of different retention schemes, including:

  • Local – Keep N copies (GFS is coming)
  • Cloud – Keep X copies
  • Archival – Keep a backup on a HDD, and retain for years

Pricing

BackupAssist ER is licensed in a variety of ways. Costs are as follows:

  • Per physical machine – $399 US annually;
  • Per virtual guest machine – $199 US annually; and
  • Per virtual host machine – $699 US annually.

There are discounts available for multi-year subscriptions, as well as discounts to be had if you’re looking to purchase licensing for more than 5 machines.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Chang noted that BackupAssist is “[n]ot trying to be the best, but the best fit”. You’ll see that a lot of the capability is Microsoft-centric, with support for Windows and Hyper-V. This makes sense when you look at what the SME market is doing in terms of leveraging Microsoft platforms to deliver their IT requirements. Building a protection product that covers every platform is time-consuming and expensive in terms of engineering effort. What Chang and the team have been focussed on is delivering data protection products to customers at a particular price point while delivering the right amount of technology.

The SME market is notorious for wanting to consume quality product at a particular price point. Every interaction I’ve had with customers in the SME segment has given me a crystal clear understanding of “Champagne tastes on a beer budget”. But in much the same way that some big enterprise shops will never stop doing things at a glacial pace, so too will many SME shops continue to look for high value at a low cost. Ultimately, compromises need to be made to meet that price point, hence the lack of support for features such as VMware. That doesn’t mean that BackupAssist can’t meet your requirements, particularly if you’re running your business’s IT on a couple of Windows machines. For this it’s well suited, and the flexibility on offer in terms of disk targets, retention, and recovery should be motivation to investigate further. It’s a bit of a nasty world out there, so anything you can do to ensure your business data is a little safer should be worthy of further consideration. You can read the press release here.

Random Short Take #42

Welcome to Random Short Take #42. A few players have worn 42 in the NBA, including Vin Baker, but my favourite from this list is Walt Williams.  A big man with a jumpshot and a great tube sock game. Let’s get random.

  • Datadobi has formed a partnership with Melillo Consulting to do more in the healthcare data management space. You can read the release here.
  • It’s that time of the year when Backblaze releases its quarterly hard drive statistics. It makes for some really interesting reading, and I’m a big fan of organisations that are willing to be as transparent as Backblaze is with the experience it’s having in the field. It has over 142000 drives in the field, across a variety of vendors, and the insights it delivers with this report are invaluable. In my opinion this is nothing but a good thing for customers and the industry in general. You can read more about the report here.
  • Was Airplay the reason you littered your house with Airport Express boxes? Same here. Have you been thinking it might be nice to replace the Airport Express with a Raspberry Pi since you’ve moved on to a different wireless access point technology? Same here. This article might just be the thing you’ve been looking for. I’m keen to try this out.
  • I’ve been trying to optimise my weblog, and turned on Cloudflare via my hosting provider. The website ran fine, but I had issues accessing the WordPress admin page after a while. This article got me sorted out.
  • I’ve been a bit loose with the security of my home infrastructure from time to time, but even I don’t use WPS. Check out this article if you’re thinking it might somehow be a good idea.
  • This article on caching versus tiering from Chris Evans made for some interesting reading.
  • This was a thorough review of the QNAP QSW-308-1C Unmanaged Switch, an 11 (!) port unmanaged switch boasting 3 10Gbps ports and 8 1Gbps ports. It’s an intriguing prospect, particularly given the price.
  • DH2i has announced it’s extending free access to DxOdyssey Work From Home (WFH) Software until December 31st. Read more about that here.

 

Pure Storage and Cohesity Announce Strategic Partnership and Pure FlashRecover

Pure Storage and Cohesity announced a strategic partnership and a new joint solution today. I had the opportunity to speak with Amy Fowler and Biswajit Mishra from Pure Storage, along with Anand Nadathur and Chris Wiborg from Cohesity, and thought I’d share my notes here.

 

Friends In The Market

The announcement comes in two parts, with the first being that Pure Storage and Cohesity are forming a strategic partnership. The idea behind this is that, together, the companies will deliver “industry-leading storage innovations from Pure Storage with modern, flash-optimised backup from Cohesity”.  There are plenty of things in common between the companies, including the fact that they’re both, as Wiborg puts it, “keenly focused on doing the right thing for the customer”.

 

Pure FlashRecover Powered By Cohesity

Partnerships are exciting and all, but what was of more interest was the Pure FlashRecover announcement. What is it exactly? It’s basically Cohesity DataProtect running on Cohesity-certified compute nodes (the whitebox gear you might be familiar with if you’ve bought Cohesity tin previously), using Pure’s FlashBlades as the storage backend.

[image courtesy of Pure Storage]

FlashRecover has a targeted general availability for Q4 CY2020 (October). It will be released in the US initially, with other regions to follow. From a go to market perspective, Pure will handle level 1 and level 2 support, with Cohesity support being engaged for escalations. Cohesity DataProtect will be added to the Pure price list, and Pure becomes a Cohesity Technology Partner.

 

Thoughts

My first thought when I heard about this was why would you? I’ve traditionally associated scalable data protection and secondary storage with slower, high-capacity appliances. But as we talked through the use cases, it started to make sense. FlashBlades by themselves aren’t super high capacity devices, but neither are the individual nodes in Cohesity appliances. String a few together and you have enough capacity to do data protection and fast recovery in a predictable fashion. FlashBlade supports 75 nodes (I think) [Edit: it scales up to 150x 52TB nodes. Thanks for the clarification from Andrew Miller] and up to 1PB of data in a single namespace. Throw in some of the capabilities that Cohesity DataProtect brings to the table and you’ve got an interesting solution. The knock on some of the next-generation data protection solutions has been that recovery can still be quite time-consuming. The use of all-flash takes away a lot of that pain, especially when coupled with a solution like FlashBlade that delivers some pretty decent parallelism in terms of getting data recovered back to production quickly.

An evolving use case for protection data is data reuse. For years, application owners have been stuck with fairly clunky ways of getting test data into environments to use with application development and testing. Solutions like FlashRecover provide a compelling story around protection data being made available for reuse, not just recovery. Another cool thing is that when you invest in FlashBlade, you’re not locking yourself into a particular silo, you can use the FlashBlade solution for other things too.

I don’t work with Pure Storage and Cohesity on a daily basis anymore, but in my previous role I had the opportunity to kick the tyres extensively with both the Cohesity DataProtect solution and the Pure Storage FlashBlade. I’m an advocate of both of these companies because of the great support I received from both companies from pre-sales through to post-sales support. They are relentlessly customer focused, and that really translates in both the technology and the field experience. I can’t speak highly enough of the engagement I’ve experienced with both companies, from both a blogger’s experience, and as an end user.

FlashRecover isn’t going to be appropriate for every organisation. Most places, at the moment, can probably still get away with taking a little time to recover large amounts of data if required. But for industries where time is money, solutions like FlashRecover can absolutely make sense. If you’d like to know more, there’s a comprehensive blog post over at the Pure Storage website, and the solution brief can be found here.

Random Short Take #41

Welcome to Random Short Take #41. A few players have worn 41 in the NBA, but it’s hard to go past Dirk Nowitzki for a quality big man with a sweet, sweet jumpshot. So let’s get random.

  • There have been a lot of articles written by folks about various home office setups since COVID-19 became a thing, but this one by Jason Benedicic deserves a special mention. I bought a new desk and decluttered a fair bit of my setup, but it wasn’t on this level.
  • Speaking of COVID-19, there’s a hunger for new TV content as people across the world find themselves confined to their homes. The Ringer published an interesting article on the challenges of diving in to the archives to dig up and broadcast some television gold.
  • Backblaze made the news a while ago when they announced S3 compatibility, and this blog post covers how you can move from AWS S3 to Backblaze. And check out the offer to cover your data transfer costs too.
  • Zerto has had a bigger cloud presence with 7.5 and 8.0, and Oracle Public Cloud is now a partner too.
  • Speaking of cloud, Leaseweb Global recently announced the launch of its Leaseweb Cloud Connect product offering. You can read the press release here.
  • One of my favourite bands is The Mark Of Cain. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Ill At Ease album (the ultimate gym or breakup album – you choose), and the band has started publishing articles detailing the background info on the recording process. It’s fascinating stuff, and you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The nice folks over at Scale Computing have been doing some stuff with various healthcare organisations lately. You can read more about that here. I’m hoping to check in with Scale Computing in the near future when I’ve got a moment. I’m looking forward to hearing about what else they’ve been up to.
  • Ray recently attended Cloud Field Day 8, and the presentation from Igneous prompted this article.