Datrium Announces CloudShift

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Datrium‘s Brian Biles and Craig Nunes about their CloudShift announcement and thought it was worth covering some of the highlights here.

 

DVX Now

Datrium have had a scalable protection tier and focus on performance since their inception.

[image courtesy of Datrium]

The “mobility tier”, in the form of Cloud DVX, has been around for a little while now. It’s simple to consume (via SaaS), yields decent deduplication results, and the Datrium team tells me it also delivers fast RTO. There’s also solid support for moving data between DCs with the DVX platform. This all sounds like the foundation for something happening in the hybrid space, right?

 

And Into The Future

Datrium pointed out that disaster recovery has traditionally been a good way of finding out where a lot of the problems exist in you data centre. There’s nothing like failing a failover to understand where the integration points in your on-premises infrastructure are lacking. Disaster recovery needs to be a seamless, integrated process, but data centres are still built on various silos of technology. People are still using clouds for a variety of reasons, and some clouds do some things better than others. It’s easy to pick and choose what you need to get things done. This has been one of the big advantages of public cloud and a large reason for its success. As a result of this, however, the silos are moving to the cloud, even as they’re fixed in the DC.

As a result of this, Datrium are looking to develop a solution that delivers on the following theme: “Run. Protect. Any Cloud”. The idea is simple, offering up an orchestrated DR offering that makes failover and failback a painless undertaking. Datrium tell me they’ve been a big supporter of VMware’s SRM product, but have observed that there can be problems with VMware offering an orchestration-only layer, with adapters having issues from time to time, and managing the solution can be complicated. With CloudShift, Datrium are taking a vertical stack approach, positioning CloudShift as an orchestrator for DR as a SaaS offering. Note that it only works with Datrium.

[image courtesy of Datrium]

The idea behind CloudShift is pretty neat. With Cloud DVX you can already backup VMs to AWS using S3 and EC2. The idea is that you can leverage data already in AWS to fire up VMs on AWS (using on-demand instances of VMware Cloud on AWS) to provide temporary disaster recovery capability. The good thing about this is that converting your VMware VMs to someone else’s cloud is no longer a problem you need to resolve. You’ll need to have a relationship with AWS in the first place – it won’t be as simple as entering your credit card details and firing up an instance. But it certainly seems a lot simpler than having an existing infrastructure in place, and dealing with the conversion problems inherent in going from vSphere to KVM and other virtualisation platforms.

[image courtesy of Datrium]

Failover and failback is a fairly straightforward process as well, with the following steps required for failover and failback of workloads:

  1. Backup to Cloud DVX / S3 – This is ongoing and happens in the background;
  2. Failover required – the CloudShift runbook is initiated;
  3. Restart VM groups on VMC – VMs are rehydrated from data in S3; and
  4. Failback to on-premises – CloudShift reverses the process with deltas using change block tracking.

It’s being pitched as a very simple way to run DR, something that has been notorious for being a stressful activity in the past.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

CloudShift is targeted for release in the first half of 2019. The economic power of DRaaS in the cloud is very strong. People love the idea that they can access the facility on-demand, rather than having passive infrastructure doing nothing on the off chance that it will be required. There’s obviously some additional cost when you need to use on demand versus reserved resources, but this is still potentially cheaper than standing up and maintaining your own secondary DC presence.

Datrium are focused on keeping inherently complex activities like DR simple. I’ll be curious to see whether they’re successful with this approach. The great thing about something like a generic orchestration framework like VMware SRM is that you can use a number of different vendors in the data centre and not have a huge problem with interoperability. The downside to this approach is that this broader ecosystem can leave you exposed to problems with individual components in the solution. Datrium is taking a punt that their customers are going to see the advantages of having an integrated approach to leveraging on demand services. I’m constantly astonished that people don’t get more excited about DRaaS offerings. It’s really cool that you can get this level of protection without having to invest a tonne in running your own passive infrastructure. If you’d like to read more about CloudShift, there’s a blog post that sheds some more light on the solution on Datrium’s site, and you can grab a white paper here too.

Datrium Cloud DVX – Not Your Father’s Cloud Data Protection Solution

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 15.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

Datrium recently presented at Storage Field Day 15. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here. Datrium presented on both DVX (Distributed Virtual x) and Cloud DVX. In this article I’m going to focus on Cloud DVX.

 

Cloud DVX

Cloud DVX is “a cloud-native instance of Datrium DVX that offers recovery services for VMs running in DVX on-premises“. They say that Cloud DVX is “Cloud Backup Done Right”. They say it’s super simple to use, highly efficient, and delivers really fast recovery capabilities. They say a lot, so what are some of the use cases?

Consolidated Backup

  • Consolidated backups.
  • Faster access vs. off-site tapes.
  • Long retention – no media mgmt.

 

Recover to On-premises

  • Off-site backups.
  • Cloud as second or third site.
  • Retrieve on-prem for recovery.

 

Recover to Cloud [Future feature]

  • Cloud as the DR site.
  • On-demand DR infrastructure.
  • SAAS-based DR orchestration.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Datrium are positioning Cloud DVX as a far more cost-effective solution for cloud backup then simply storing your data on S3. For existing Datrium customers this solution makes a lot of sense. There are great efficiencies to be had through Datrium’s global deduplication and, based on the demo I saw, it looks to be a simple solution to get up and running. Get yourself an AWS account, addd your key to your on-premises DVX environment, and set your protection policy. Then let Datrium take care of the rest. Datrium are really keen to make this an “iPhone to iCloud-like” experience.

I’ve been working with data protection solutions for some time now. I’m not a greybeard by any stretch but there’s certainly some silver in those sideburns. In my opinion, data protection solutions have been notoriously complicated to deploy in a cost effective and reliable manner. It often seems like the simple act of protecting critical data (yes, I’m overstating things a bit) has to be made difficult in order for system administrators to feel a sense of accomplishment. The advent of cloud has moved the goalposts again, with a number of solutions being positioned as “cloud-ready” that really just add to the complexity of the solution rather than giving enterprise what they need: a simple and easy way to protect data, and recover, in a cost effective fashion. Data protection shouldn’t be the pain in the rear that it is today. And shoving traditional data protection solutions onto platforms such as AWS or Azure and calling them “cloud ready” is disingenuous at best and, at worst, really quite annoying. That’s why something like Cloud DVX, coupled with Datrium’s on-premises solution, strikes me as an elegant solution that could really change the way people protect their traditional applications.

Datrium have plans for the future that involve some on-demand disaster recovery services and other orchestration pieces that will be built around Cloud DVX. Their particular approach to “open” convergence has certainly made some waves in the market and generated a lot of interest. The architecture is not what we’ve come to see in “traditional” converged and hyper-converged systems (can we say traditional for this stuff yet?) and delivers a number of efficiencies in terms of cost and performance that makes for a compelling solution. The company was founded by a lot of pretty smart folks who know a thing or two about data efficiency on storage platforms (amongst other things), so they might just have a chance at making this whole “open convergence” thing work (I need to lay off the air quotes too).

You can grab the datasheet here, a copy of the DVX solution brief here, an article from El Reg here and a post by Storage Review hereGlenn Dekhayser also did a great article on Datrium that you can read here.