Cohesity – Cloud Edition for Azure – A Few Notes

I deployed Cohesity Cloud Edition in Microsoft Azure recently and took a few notes. I’m the first to admit that I’m completely hopeless when it comes to fumbling my way about Azure, so this probably won’t seem as convoluted a process to you as it did to me. If you have access to the documentation section of the Cohesity support site, there’s a PDF you can download that explains everything. I won’t go into too much detail but there are a few things to consider. There’s also a handy solution brief on the Cohesity website that sheds a bit more light on the solution.

 

Process

The installation requires a Linux VM be setup in Azure (a small one – DS1_V2 Standard). Just like in the physical world, you need to think about how many nodes you want to deploy in Azure (this will be determined largely by how much you’re trying to protect). As part of the setup you edit a Cohesity-provided JSON file with a whole bunch of cool stuff like Application IDs and Keys and Tenant IDs.

Subscription ID

Specify the subscription ID for the subscription used to store the resources of the Cohesity Cluster.

WARNING: The subscription account must have owner permissions for the specified subscription.

Application ID

Specify the Application ID assigned by Azure during the service principal creation process.

Application Key

Specify the Application key generated by Azure during the service principal creation process that is used for authentication.

Tenant ID

Specify the unique Tenant ID assigned by Azure.

The Linux VM then goes off and builds the cluster in the location you specify with the details you’ve specified. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to create a Service Principal as well. Microsoft has some useful documentation on that here.

 

Limitations

One thing to keep in mind is that, at this stage, “Cohesity does not support the native backup of Microsoft Azure VMs. To back up a cloud VM (such as a Microsoft Azure VM), install the Cohesity agent on the cloud VM and create a Physical Server Protection Job that backs up the VM”. So you’ll see that, even if you add Azure as a source, you won’t be able to perform VM backups in the same way you would with vSphere workloads, as “”Cloud Edition only supports registering a Microsoft Azure Cloud for converting and cloning VMware VMs. The registered Microsoft Azure Cloud is where the VMs are cloned to”. This is the same across most public cloud platforms, as Microsoft, Amazon and friends aren’t terribly interested in giving out that kind of access to the likes of Cohesity or Rubrik. Still, if you’ve got the right networking configuration in place, you can back up your Azure VMs either to the Cloud Edition or to an on-premises instance (if that works better for you).

 

Thoughts

I’m on the fence about “Cloud Editions” of data protection products, but I do understand why they’ve come to be a thing. Enterprises have insisted on a lift and shift approach to moving workloads to public cloud providers and have then panicked about being able to protect them, because the applications they’re running aren’t cloud-native and don’t necessarily work well across multiple geos. And that’s fine, but there’s obviously an overhead associated with running cloud editions of data protection solutions. And it feels like you’re just putting off the inevitable requirement to re-do the whole solution. I’m all for leveraging public cloud – it can be a great resource to get things done effectively without necessarily investing a bunch of money in your own infrastructure. But you need to re-factor your apps for it to really make sense. Otherwise you find yourself deploying point solutions in the cloud in order to avoid doing the not so cool stuff.

I’m not saying that this type of solution doesn’t have a place. I just wish it didn’t need to be like this sometimes …

Cohesity Basics – Cloud Tier

I’ve been doing some work with Cohesity in our lab and thought it worth covering some of the basic features that I think are pretty neat. In this edition of Cohesity Basics, I thought I’d quickly cover off how to get started with the “Cloud Tier” feature. You can read about Cohesity’s cloud integration approach here. El Reg did a nice write-up on the capability when it was first introduced as well.

 

What Is It?

Cohesity have a number of different technologies that integrate with the cloud, including Cloud Archive and Cloud Tier. With Cloud Archive you can send copies of snapshots up to the cloud to keep as a copy separate to the backup data you might have replicated to a secondary appliance. This is useful if you have some requirement to keep a monthly or six-monthly copy somewhere for compliance reasons. Cloud Tier is an overflow technology that allows you to have cold data migrated to a cloud target when the capacity of your environment exceeds 80%. Note that “coldness” is defined in this instance as older than 60 days. That is, you can’t just pump a lot of data in to your appliance to see how this works (trust me on that). The coldness level is configurable, but I recommend you engage with Cohesity support before you go down that track. It’s also important to note that once you turn on Cloud Tier for a View Box, you can’t turn it off again.

 

How Do I?

Here’s how to get started in 10 steps or less. Apologies if the quality of some of these screenshots is not great. The first thing to do is register an External Target on your appliance. In this example I’m running version 5.0.1 of the platform on a Cohesity Virtual Edition VM. Click on Protection – External Target.

Under External Targets you’ll see any External Targets you’ve already configured. Select Register External Target.

You’ll need to give it a name and choose whether you’re using it for Archival or Cloud Tier. This choice also impacts some of the types of available targets. You can’t, for example, configure a NAS or QStar target for use with Cloud Tier.

Selecting Cloud Tier will provide you with more cloudy targets, such as Google, AWS and Azure.

 

In this example, I’ve selected S3 (having already created the bucket I wanted to test with). You need to know the Bucket name, Region, Access Key ID and your Secret Access Key.

If you have it all correct, you can click on Register and it will work. If you’ve provided the wrong credentials, it won’t work. You then need to enable Cloud Tier on the View Box. Go to Platform – Cluster.

Click on View Boxes and the click on the three dots on the right to Edit the View Box configuration.

You then can toggle Cloud Tier and select the External Target you want to use for Cloud Tier.

Once everything is configured (and assuming you have some cold data to move to the cloud and your appliance is over 80% full) you can click on the cluster dashboard and you’ll see an overview of Cloud Tier storage in the Storage part of the overview.

 

 

Thoughts?

All the kids are getting into cloud nowadays, and Cohesity is no exception. I like this feature because it can help with managing capacity on your on-premises appliance, particularly if you’ve had a sudden influx of data into the environment, or you have a lot of old data that you likely won’t be accessing. You still need to think about your egress charges (if you need to get those cold blocks back) and you need to think about what the cost of that S3 bucket (or whatever you’re using) really is. I don’t see the default coldness level being a problem, as you’d hope that you sized your appliance well enough to cope with a certain amount of growth.

Features like this demonstrate both a willingness on behalf of Cohesity to embrace cloud technologies, as well as a focus on ease of use when it comes to reasonably complicated activities like moving protection data to an alternative location. My thinking is that you wouldn’t necessarily want to find yourself in the position of having to suddenly shunt a bunch of cold data to a cloud location if you can help it (although I haven’t done the maths on which is a better option) but it’s nice to know that the option is available and easy enough to setup.

Cohesity – SQL Log Backup Warning

This one falls into the category of “unlikely that it will happen to you but might be worth noting”. I’ve been working with some Cohesity gear in the lab recently and came across a warning, not an error, when I was doing a SQL backup.

But before I get to that, it’s important to share the context of the testing. With Cohesity, there’s some support for protecting Microsoft SQL workloads that live on Windows Failover Clusters (as well as AAGs – but that’s a story for another time). You configure these separately from your virtual sources, and you install an agent on each node in the cluster. In my test environment I’ve created a simple two-node Windows Failover Cluster based on Windows 2016. It has some shared disk and a heartbeat network (a tip of the hat to Windows clusters of yore). I’ve cheated, because it’s virtualised, but needs must and all that. I’m running SQL 2014 on top of this. It took me a little while to get that working properly, mainly because I’m a numpty with SQL. I finally had everything setup when I noticed the following error after each SQL protection job ran.

I was a bit confused as I had set the databases to full recovery mode. Of course, the more it happened, the more I got frustrated. I fiddled about with permissions on the cluster, manual maintenance jobs, database roles and all manner of things I shouldn’t be touching. I even went for a short walk. The thing I didn’t do, though, was click the arrow on the left hand side of the job. That expands the job run details so you can read more about what happened. If I’d done that, I would have seen this error straight away. And the phrase “No databases available for log backup” would have made more sense.

And I would have realised that the reason I was getting the log backup warning was because it was skipping the system databases and, as I didn’t have any other databases deployed, it wasn’t doing any log backups. This is an entirely unlikely scenario in the real world, because you’ll be backing up SQL clusters that have data on them. If they don’t have data on them, they’re likely low value items and won’t get protected. The only situation where you might come across this is if you’re testing your infrastructure before deploying data to it. I resolved the issue by creating a small database. The log backups then went through without issue.

For reference, the DataPlatform version I’m using is 5.0.1.

Cohesity Understands The Value Of What Lies Beneath

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.

Cohesity recently presented at Storage Field Day 15. It’s not the first time I’ve spoken about them, and you can read a few of my articles on them here and here. You can see their videos from Storage Field Day 15 here, and download a PDF copy of my rough notes from here.

 

The Data Centre Is Boring

Well, not boring exactly. Okay, it’s a little boring. Cohesity talk a lot about the concept of secondary storage and, in their view, most of the storage occupying the DC is made up of secondary storage. Think of your primary storage tier as your applications, and your secondary storage as being comprised of:

  • Backups;
  • Archival data;
  • Analytics; Test/Dev workloads; and
  • File shares.

In other words, it’s a whole lot of unstructured data. Cohesity like to talk about the “storage iceberg”, and it’s a pretty reasonable analogy for what’s happening.

[Image courtesy of Cohesity]

 

Cohesity don’t see all this secondary data as simply a steaming pile of unmanaged chaos and pain. Instead, they see it as a potential opportunity for modernisation. The secondary storage market has delivered, in Cohesity’s view, an opportunity to “[c]lean up the mess left by enterprise backup products”. The idea is that you can use an “Apple-like UI”, operating at “Google-like scale”, to consolidate workloads on the Cohesity DataPlatform and then take advantage of copy data management to really extract value from that data.

 

The Cohesity Difference

So what differentiates Cohesity from other players in the secondary storage space?

Mohit Aron (pictured above) took us though a number of features in the Cohesity DataPlatform that are making secondary storage both useful and interesting. These include:

  • Global Space Efficiency
    • Variable length dedupe
    • Erasure coding
  • QoS
    • Multi workload isolation
    • Noisy neighbour prevention
  • Instant Mass Restore
    • Any point in time
    • Highly available
  • Data Resiliency
    • Strict consistency
    • Ensures data integrity
  • Cloud/Apps Integration
    • Multiprotocol
    • Universal access

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some hands on experience with the Cohesity solution and can attest that these features (particularly things like storage efficiency and resiliency) aren’t just marketing. There are some other neat features, such as public cloud support with AWS and Azure that are also worthy of further investigation.

 

Thoughts And Further Reading

There’s a lot to like about Cohesity’s approach to leveraging secondary storage in the data centre. For a very long time, the value of secondary storage hasn’t been at the forefront of enterprise analytics activities. Or, more bluntly put, copy data management has been something of an ongoing fiasco, with a number of different tools and groups within organisations being required to draw value from the data that’s just sitting there. Cohesity don’t like to position themselves simply as a storage target for data protection, because the DataPlatform is certainly capable of doing a lot more than that. While the messaging has occasionally been confusing, the drive of the company to deliver a comprehensive data management solution that extends beyond traditional solutions shouldn’t be underestimated. Coupled with a relentless focus on ease of use and scalability and the Cohesity offering looks to be a great way of digging in to the “dark data” in your organisation to make sense of what’s going on.

There are still situations where Cohesity may not be the right fit (at the moment), particularly if you have requirements around non-x86 workloads or particularly finicky (read: legacy) enterprise applications. That said, Cohesity are working tirelessly to add new features to the solution at a rapid pace, and are looking to close the gap between themselves and some of the more established players in the market. The value here, however, isn’t just in the extensive data protection capability, but also in the analytics that can be leveraged to provide further insight into your organisation’s protected data. It’s sometimes not immediately obvious why you need to be mining your unstructured data for information. But get yourself the right tools and the right people and you can discover a whole lot of very useful (and sometimes scary) information about your organisation that you wouldn’t otherwise know. And it’s that stuff that lies beneath the surface that can have a real impact on your organisation’s success. Even if it is a little boring.

Cohesity Basics – Auto Protect

I’ve been doing some work with Cohesity in our lab and thought it worth covering some of the basic features that I think are pretty neat. In this edition of Cohesity Basics, I thought I’d quickly cover off the “Auto Protect” feature. If you read their white paper on data protection, you’ll find the following line: “As new virtual machines are added, they are auto discovered and included in the protection policy that meets the desired SLAs”. It seems like a pretty cool feature, and was introduced in version 4.0. I wanted to find out a bit more about how it works.

 

What Is It?

Auto Protect will “protect new VMs that are added to a selected parent Object (such as a Datacenter, Folder, Cluster or Host)”. The idea behind this is that you can add a source and have Cohesity automatically protect all of the VMs in a folder, cluster, etc. The cool thing is that it will also protect any new VMs added to that source.

When you’re adding Objects to a Protection Job, you can select what to auto protect. In the screenshot below you can see that the Datacenter in my vCenter has Auto Protect turned off.

The good news is that you can explicitly exclude Objects as well. Here’s what the various icons mean.

[Image courtesy of Cohesity]

 

What Happens?

When you create a Protection Job in Cohesity you add Objects to the job. If you select to Auto Protect this Object, anything under that Object will automatically be protected. Every time the Protection Job runs, if the Object hierarchy has been refreshed on the Cohesity Cluster, new VMs are also backed up even though the new VM has not been manually included in the Protection Job. There are two ways that the Object hierarchy gets refreshed. It is automatically done every 4 hours by the cluster. If you’re in a hurry though, you can do it manually. Go to Protection -> Sources and click on the Source you’d like to refresh. There’s a refresh button to click on and you’ll see your new Objects showing up.

 

Why Wouldn’t You?

As part of my testing, I’ve been creating “catchall” Protection Jobs and adding all the VMs in the environment into the jobs. But we have some VMware NSX Controller VMs in our lab, and VMware “only supports backing up the NSX Edge and controller through the NSX Manager“. Not only that, but it simply won’t work.

In any case, you can use FTP to back up your NSX VMs if you really feel like that’s emoting you want to do. More info on that is here. You also want to be careful that you’re not backing up stuff you don’t need to, such as clones and odds and sods. Should I try protecting the Cohesity Virtual Edition appliance VM? I don’t know about that …

 

Thoughts

I generally prefer data protection configurations that “protect everything and exclude as required”. While Auto Protect is turned off by default, it’s simple enough to turn on when you get started. And it’s a great feature, particularly in dynamic environments where there’s no automation of data protection when new workloads are provisioned (a problem for another time). Hat tip to my Cohesity SE Pete Marfatia for pointing this feature out to me.

VMware – VMworld 2017 – STO3331BUS – Cohesity Hyperconverged Secondary Storage: Simple Data Protection for VMware and vSAN

Disclaimer: I recently attended VMworld 2017 – US.  My flights were paid for by ActualTech Media, VMware provided me with a free pass to the conference and various bits of swag, and Tech Field Day picked up my hotel costs. 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.

Here are my rough notes on “STO3331BUS – Cohesity Hyperconverged Secondary Storage: Simple Data Protection for VMware and vSAN” presented by Gaetan Castelein of Cohesity and Shawn Long, CEO of viLogics. You can grab a PDF of my notes from here.

 

Secondary Storage Problem

SDS has changed for the better.

 

Primary storage has improved dramatically

Moving from:

  • High CapEx costs
  • Device-centric silos
  • Complex processes

To:

  • Policy-based management
  • Cost-efficient performance
  • Modern storage architectures

 

But secondary storage is still problematic

Rapidly growing data

  • 6ZB in 2016
  • 93ZB in 2025
  • 80% unstructured

Too many copies

  • 45% – 60% of capacity for copy data
  • 10 – 12 copies on average
  • $50B problem

Legacy storage can’t keep up

  • Doesn’t scale
  • Fragmented silos
  • Inefficient

 

Cohesity Hyperconverged Secondary Storage

You can use this for a number of different applications, including:

  • File shares
  • Archiving
  • Test / Dev
  • Analytics
  • Backups

It also offers native integration with the public cloud and Cohesity have been clear that you shouldn’t consider it to be just another backup appliance.

 

Consolidate Secondary Storage Silos at Web-Scale

  • Data Protection with Cohesity DataProtect;
  • Third-party backup DB copies with CommVault, Oracle RMAN, Veritas, IBM and Veeam;
  • Files; and
  • Objects.

 

Deliver Data Instantly

Want to make the data useful (via SnapTree)?

 

Software defined from Edge to Cloud

You can read more about Cohesity’s cloud integration here.

Use Cases

  • Simple Data Protection
  • Distributed File Services
  • Object Services
  • Multicloud Mobility
  • Test / Dev Copies
  • Analytics

You can use Cohesity with existing backup products if required or you can use Cohesity DataProtect.

 

Always-Ready Snapshots for Instant Restores

  • Sub-5 minute RPOs
  • Fully hydrated images (linked clones)
  • Catalogue of always-ready images
  • Instant recoveries (near-zero RTOs)
  • Integration with Pure Storage

 

Tight Integration with VMware

  • vCenter Integration
  • VADP for snap-based CBT backups
  • vRA plugin for self-service, policy-based management

 

CloudArchive

  • Policy-based archival
  • Dedupe, compression, encryption
  • Everything is indexed before it goes to the cloud – search files and VMs
  • Individual file recovery
  • Recover to a different Cohesity cluster

 

CloudReplicate   

  • Replicate backup data to cloud

Deploy Cohesity to the cloud (available on Azure currently, other platforms soon).

 

Reduce TCO

You can move from “Legacy backup”, where you’re paying maintenance on backup software and deduplication appliances, to paying just for Cohesity.

 

Testimonial

Shawn Long from viLogics then took the stage to talk about their experiences with Cohesity.

  • People want to consume IT
  • “Product’s only as good as the support behind it”

 

Conclusion

This was a useful session. I do enjoy the sponsored sessions at VMworld. It’s a useful way for the vendors to get their message across in a way that needs to tie back to VMware. There’s often a bit of a sales pitch, but there’s usually also enough information in them to get you looking further into the solution. I’ve been keeping an eye on Cohesity since I first encountered them a few years ago at Storage Field Day, and their story has improved in clarity and coherence since them. If you’re looking at secondary storage solutions it’s worth checking the out. You’ll find some handy resources here. 3.5 stars.

Random Short Take #3

It’s only been 13 months since I did one of these, so clearly the frequency is increasing. Here’re a few things that I’ve noticed and thought may be worthy of your consideration:

  • This VMware KB article on Calculating Bandwidth Requirements for vSphere Replication is super helpful and goes into a lot of depth on planning for replication. There’s also an appliance available via a Fling, and a calculator you can use.
  • NetWorker 9.1 was recently released and Preston has a great write-up on some of the new features. “Things are hotting up”, as they say.
  • Rawlinson has now joined Cohesity, and I look forward to hearing more about that in the near future. In the meantime,  this article on automated deployment for HCI is very handy.
  • My hosting provider moved me to a new platform in September. By October I’d decided to move somewhere else based on the poor performance of the site and generally shoddy support experience. I’m now with SiteGround. They’re nice, fast and cheap enough for me. I’ve joined their affiliate program, so if you decide to sign up with them I can get some cash.
  • My blog got “hacked” yesterday. Someone put a redirect in place to a men’s performance pill site. Big thanks to Mike Yurick for pointing it out to me and to my colleague Josh for answering my pleas for help and stepping in and cleaning it up while I was on a plane inter-state. He used Wordfence to scan and clean up the site – check them out and make sure your backups are up to date. If it happens to you, and you don’t have a Josh, check out this guidance from WordPress.
  • The next Brisbane VMUG will be held on Tuesday February 21st. I’ll be putting up an article on it in the next few weeks. It will be sponsored by Veeam and should be great.
  • I always enjoy spending time with Stephen Foskett, and when I can’t be with him I like to read his articles (it’s not stalky at all). This one on containers was particularly good.

That’s it for the moment. Hopefully you all have an enjoyable and safe holiday season. And if my site looks like this in the future – let me know.

Cohesity Continues to Evolve

cohesity

I’ve been following Cohesity for some time now, and have covered a number of their product announcements and saw them in action at Storage Field Day 8. They announced version 3.0 at the end of June, and Gaetan Castelein kindly offered to give me a brief on where they’re at in the lead up to VMworld US.

 

What’s a Cohesity?

Cohesity’s goal is to take the complexity out of secondary storage. They argue that SDS has done a good job of this on primary storage platforms, but we’ve all ignored the issues around running secondary storage. The primary vehicle for this is Cohesity DataPlatform, combined with Cohesity DataProtect. Cohesity have a number of use cases for the platform that they cover, and I thought it might be handy to go over these here.

 

Use Case 1 – DataPlatform as a “better backup target”

cohesity001

Cohesity are taking aim at the likes of Data Domain, and are keen to replace them as backup targets. Cohesity tell me that DataPlatform offers the following features:

  • Scale-out platform (with no single point of failure), simple capacity planning, no forklift upgrades;
  • Global deduplication;
  • Native cloud integration;
  • High performance with parallelized ingest; and
  • QoS and multitenancy.

These all seem like nice things to have.

 

Use Case 2 – Simpler Data Protection

cohesity002

Cohesity tell me that the DataPlatform also makes a great option for VMware-based backups, providing data protection folks with the ability to leverage the following features:

  • Converged infrastructure with single pane of glass;
  • Policy-based automation;
  • Fast SLAs (15 min RPOs and instantaneous RTOs); and
  • Productive data (instant clones for test/dev, deep visibility into the data for indexing, custom analytics, etc).

While the single pane of glass often becomes the single pain, the last point about making data productive, depending on the environment you’re working in, is particularly important. There’re a tonne of enterprises out there where people are following some mighty cumbersome processes on snapshots of data to do analytics on the data. Any platform that makes this easier and more accessible seems like a great idea.

 

Use Case 3 – NFS & SMB Interfaces

cohesity003

You can also use the DataPlatform for file consolidation. Cohesity have even started positioning a combination of VMware VSAN as your primary storage platform (great for running VMs), with Cohesity offering secondary storage and the ability to deliver it over SMB or NFS. You can read more about this here.

 

Use Case 4 – Test/Dev

cohesity006

Cohesity’s first foray into the market revolved around providing enhanced capabilities for developers, and this remains a key selling point of the platform, with a full set of APIs exposed (which can be easily leveraged for use with Chef, Puppet, etc).

 

Use Case 5 – Analytics
Analytics have also been a major part of Cohesity’s early forays into secondary storage, with native reporting providing:

  • Utilization metrics (storage utilization, capacity forecasting); and
  • Performance metrics (ingrest rates, date reduction, IOPS, latency).

There’s also content indexing and search, providing data indexing (index upon ingest, VM and file metadata, files within VMs), and “Google-like” search. You can also access an analytics workbench with built-in MapReduce.

 

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

So with the Cohesity 3.0 Announcement a bunch of expanded application and OS integrations were announced, with a particular focus on SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, MS Windows, Linux, Oracle DBs (RMAN and remote adapter). Here’s a table that Cohesity provided that covers off a lot of the new features.

cohesity004

In addition to the DataProtect enhancements, a number of enhancements have been made to both the DataPlatform and File Services components of the product. I’m particularly interested in the ROBO solution, and I think this could end up being a very clever attempt by Cohesity at capturing the secondary storage market at a very broad level.

 

 

Conclusion

Cohesity have been moving ahead in leaps and bounds, and I’ve been impressed by what they’ve had to say, and the development of their narrative compared to some of the earlier messaging. It remains to be seen whether they’ll get to where they want to be, but I think they’re giving it a good shake. They’ll be present at VMworld US next week (Booth 827), where you can hear more about what they’re doing with VSAN and vRealize Automation.

Cohesity Announces Hybrid Cloud Strategy

I’ve posted previously about the opportunity I had to talk in depth with some of the folks from Cohesity at Storage Field Day 8. They’ve now come out with their “Hybrid Cloud Strategy”, and I thought it was worthwhile putting together a brief post covering the announcement.

As you’ve probably been made aware countless times by various technology sales people, analysts and pundits, enterprises are moving workload to the cloud. Cohesity are offering what they call a complete approach via the following features:

  • Cohesity CloudArchive;
  • Cohesity CloudTier; and
  • Cohesity CloudReplicate.

 

Cohesity CloudArchive

Cohesity CloudArchive is, as the name implies, a mechanism to “seamlessly archive datasets for extended retention from the Cohesity Data Platform through pre-built integrations with Google Nearline, Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3, Glacier”. This feature was made available as part of the 2.0 release, which I covered here.

CloudArchive

 

Cohesity CloudTier

Cohesity CloudTier allows you to use public cloud as an extension of your on-premises storage.  It “dynamically increases local storage capacity, by moving seldom-accessed data blocks into the cloud”. The cool thing about this is that, via the policy-based waterfall model, transparent cloud tiering can be managed from the Cohesity Data Platform console. Cohesity suggest that the main benefit is that end users no longer have to worry about exceeding their on-premises capacity during temporary or seasonal demand spikes.

CloudTier

 

Cohesity CloudReplicate

Cohesity CloudReplicate allows Cohesity users to “replicate local storage instances to remote public or private cloud services”.  This has the potential to provide a lower-cost disaster recovery solution for their on-premises installations. Cohesity have said that this feature will be released for production use later this year.

CloudReplicate

 

Further Reading and Thoughts

Everyone and their dog is doing some kind of cloud storage play nowadays. This isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, as CxOs and enterprises are really super keen to move some (if not all) of their workloads off-premises in order to reduce their reliance on in-house IT systems. Every cloud opportunity comes with caveats though, and you need to be mindful of the perceived versus actual cost of storing a bunch of your data off -premises. You also need to look at things like security, bandwidth and accessibility before you take the leap. But this is all stuff you know, and I’m sure that a lot of people have thought about the impact of off-premises storage for large datasets before blindly signing up with Amazon and the like. The cool thing about this Cohesity’s secondary storage hybrid cloud solution is that Cohesity are focussed on the type of data that lends itself really well to off-premises storage.

I’ve been a fan of Cohesity since they first announced shipping product. And it’s been great to see the speed with which new features are being added to the product. As well as this, Cohesity’s responsiveness to criticism and suggestions for improvements has been exciting to see play out. You can check out a video of Cohesity’s Hybrid Cloud demo here, while the cloud integration demo from Storage Field Day 9 is available here. Alex also has a nice write-up here.

Cohesity Announces Cohesity Data Platform 2.0

I’ve previously blogged about Cohesity‘s Data Platform here. I also had the good fortune to sit in on their presentation at SFD8 and got to mix with some of their product people that week. So I was pleased to hear news from Nick that Cohesity Data Platform 2.0 was ready to roll.

 

New Features

  • Site-to-Site Replication: Cohesity have introduced improved resiliency with the new capability for site-to-site replication between Cohesity Clusters. I’m looking forward to checking this one out in more depth.
  • SMB Protocol: Support for SMB 3.0 – this is big, but no AD-integration yet (it’s coming, and part of a bigger RBAC push).
  • Stronger Security: Hardware-accelerated AES 256-bit FIPS-compatible encryption – I knew a few people who’ll be excited about this.
  • Automated VM Cloning for Test/Dev: To deliver a more streamlined test/dev workflow that repurposes backup data, automated cloning of backup VMs is now available to more quickly spin up zero-space clones.
  • Cloud Enabled: A newly added public cloud archival tier enables spill over of the least used data to Google Cloud Storage Nearline,  Microsoft Azure and Amazon S3, Glacier. Cohesity says that this will help in cutting on-premises storage costs. The cynic in me suggests that this will also increase your off-premises costs, but your mileage might vary.

 

UI Improvements

The UI has had a bit of touch-up, which is always nice. Nick provided me with a sample screenshot.

Cohesity_UI_Dashboard

There’s a cool video on YouTube that provides a good overview of the dashboard – you can see it here.

Nick also said that they’ve modified “the data protection UI to now deal in profiles that are assigned policies. Jobs are still a thing that happen, but they happen as a result  of policies attached to a profile, where the policy determines RPO/RTO, indexing, location, etc.” Here’s a screenshot of the Replication & Archival policy that can be attached to profiles.

ReplicationArchivalPolicy

You can also see a video on managing policies for data protection here, and a clip on creating a protection job using policies here.

 

Further Reading and Conclusion

Cohesity are doing a bit of tour around the US to let us know more about what they’re all about. You can sign up for a session here. Mohit Aron (the CEO) is the featured speaker, and I recommend getting along to listen to him if you can.

I’ve been intrigued by Cohesity since they came out of stealth and I had the opportunity to talk to them in more depth late last year. I think the concept is interesting, and the execution technically has been really good from what I’ve seen. I’ve criticised them previously for some mixed messaging in the marketplace, but I put that down to the version 1 flavour of everything. That said, Cohesity are listening to customers, pundits, and the marketplace in general, and they’re actively developing features based on that feedback. If you’re looking for a different approach to “secondary storage” in general, I recommend having a chat to Cohesity about what they can do for you.