Backup Awareness Month, Backblaze, And A Simple Question

Last month was Backup Awareness Month (at least according to Backblaze). It’s not formally recognised my any government entities, and it’s more something that was made up by Backblaze. But I’m a big fan of backup awareness, so I endorse making up stuff like this. I had a chance to chat to Yev over at Backblaze about the results of a survey Backblaze runs annually and thought I’d share my thoughts here. Yes, I know I’m a bit behind, but I’ve been busy.

As I mentioned previously, as part of the backup awareness month celebrations, Backblaze reaches out to folks in the US and asks a basic question: “How often do you backup all the data on your computer?”. This has shown some interesting facts about consumer backup habits. There has been a positive decrease in the amount of people stating that they have never backed up their data (down to around one fifth of the respondents), and the frequency of which backup has increased.

Other takeaways from the results include:

  • Almost 50% of people lose their data each year;
  • 41% of people do not completely understand the difference between cloud backup and cloud storage;
  • Millennials are the generation most likely to backup their data daily; and
  • Seniors (65+) have gone from being the best age group at backing up data to the worst.

 

Thoughts

I bang on a lot about how important backup (and recovery) is across both the consumer and enterprise space. Surveys like this are interesting because they highlight, I think, the importance of regularly backing up our data. We’re making more and more of it, and it’s not magically protected by the benevolent cloud fairies, so it’s up to us to protect it. Particularly if it’s important to us. It’s scary to think that one in two people are losing data on a regular basis, and scarier still that most folks don’t understand the distinction between cloud storage and cloud backup. I was surprised that Millennials are most likely to backup their data, but my experience with younger generations really only extends to my children, so they’re maybe not the best indicator of what the average consumer is doing. It’s also troubling that older folk are struggling to keep on top of backups. Anecdotally that lines up with my experience as well. So I think it’s great that Yev and the team at Backblaze have been on something of a crusade to educate people about cloud backup and how it can help them. I love that the company is all about making it easier for consumers, not harder.

As an industry we need to be better at making things simple for people to consume, and more transparent in terms of what can be achieved with technology. I know this blog isn’t really focused on consumer technology, and it might seem a bit silly that I carry on a bit about consumer backup. But you all have data stored some place or another that means something to you. And I know not all of you are protecting it appropriately. Backup is like insurance. It’s boring. People don’t like paying for it. But when something goes bang, you’ll be glad you have it. If these kind of posts can raise some awareness, and get one more person to protect the data that means something to them in an effective fashion, then I’ll be happy with that.

Random Short Take #38

Welcome to Random Short Take #38. Not a huge amount of players have worn 38 in the NBA, and I’m not going to pretend I was ever a Kwame Brown fan. Although it did seem like he had a tough time of it. Anyway let’s get random.

  • Ransomware is the new hotness. Or, rather, protecting storage systems from ransomware is the new hotness. My man Chin-Fah had a writeup on that here. It’s not a matter of if, but rather when you’ll run into a problem. It’s been interesting to see the various approaches being taken by the storage vendors and the data protection companies.
  • Applications for the vExpert program intake for the second half of 2020 are open, but closing soon. It’s a fantastic program to be a part of, so if you think you’ve got the goods, you can apply here. I also recommend this article from Christopher on his experiences.
  • This was a great article from Alastair on some of the differences between networking with AWS and VMC on AWS. As someone who works for a VMware Cloud Provider, I can confirm that NSX (T or V, I don’t care) has a whole slew of capabilities and whole slew of integration challenges.
  • Are you Zoomed out? I am. Even when you think the problem can’t be the network, it might just be the network (I hope my friends in networking appreciate that it’s not always the storage). John Nicholson posted a typically comprehensive overview of how your bandwidth might be one of the things keeping you from demonstrating excellent radio voice on those seemingly endless meetings you’re doing at the moment. It could also be that you’re using crap audio devices too, but I think John’s going to cover that in the future.
  • Scale Computing has a good story to tell about what it’s been doing with a large school district in the U.S. Read more about that here.
  • This is one of those promotions aimed at my friends in Northern America more than folks based where I am, but I’m always happy to talk about deals on data protection. StorCentric has launched its “Retrospect Dads & Grads Promotion” offering a free 90-Day subscription license for every Retrospect Backup product. You can read more about that here.
  • Pure//Accelerate Online was this week, and Max did a nice write-up on Pure Storage File Services over at Gestalt IT.
  • Rancher Labs recently announced the general availability of Longhorn (a cloud-native container storage solution). I’m looking forward to digging in to this a bit more over the next little while.

 

 

Random Short Take #36

Welcome to Random Short Take #36. Not a huge amount of players have worn 36 in the NBA, but Shaq did (at the end of his career), and Marcus Smart does. This one, though, goes out to one of my favourite players from the modern era, Rasheed Wallace. It seems like Boston is the common thread here. Might have something to do with those hall of fame players wearing numbers in the low 30s. Or it might be entirely unrelated.

  • Scale Computing recently announced its all-NVMe HC3250DF as a new appliance targeting core data centre and edge computing use cases. It offers higher performance storage, networking and processing. You can read the press release here.
  • Dell EMC PowerStore has been announced. Chris Mellor covered the announcement here. I haven’t had time to dig into this yet, but I’m keen to learn more. Chris Evans also wrote about it here.
  • Rubrik Andes 5.2 was recently announced. You can read a wrap-up from Mellor here.
  • StorCentric’s Nexsan recently announced the E-Series 32F Storage Platform. You can read the press release here.
  • In what can only be considered excellent news, Preston de Guise has announced the availability of the second edition of his book, “Data Protection: Ensuring Data Availability”. It will be available in a variety of formats, with the ebook format already being out. I bought the first edition a few times to give as a gift, and I’m looking forward to giving away a few copies of this one too.
  • Backblaze B2 has been huge for the company, and Backblaze B2 with S3-compatible API access is even huger. Read more about that here. Speaking of Backblaze, it just released its hard dive stats for Q1, 2020. You can read more on that here.
  • Hal recently upgraded his NUC-based home lab to vSphere 7. You can read more about the process here.
  • Jon recently posted an article on a new upgrade command available in OneFS. If you’re into Isilon, you might just be into this.

VeeamON 2020 Is Online

VeeamON 2020 would have happened already this year, but these are crazy times, and like most vendors, Veeam has chosen to move the event online, rather than run the gauntlet of having a whole bunch of folks in one place and risk the rapid spread of COVID-19. The new dates for the event are June 17 – 18. You can find more information about VeeamON 2020 here and register for the event here.

The agenda is jam-packed with a range of interesting topics around data protection, spread across a range of tracks, including Architecture and Design, Implementation Best Practices, and Operations and Support. It’s not just marketing fluff either, there’s plenty there for technical folk to sink their teeth into.

 

Thoughts

Six months ago I thought I’d be heading to Vegas for this event. But a lot can change in a short period of time, and a lot has changed. The broader topic of online conferences versus in-person events is an interesting one, and not something I can do justice to here. This isn’t something that Veeam necessarily wanted to do, but it makes sense not to put a whole mess of people in the same space. What I’m interested to see is whether the tech vendors, including Veeam, will notice that not running large scale in-person events actually saves a bunch of money, and look to do more of these once things have gone back to whatever passes for normal in the future. Or whether, as a few people have commented, the events don’t get as much engagement because people aren’t present and can’t commit the time. As much as I’ve come to hate the frequent flights to the U.S.A. to attend tech conferences, it does make it easier to be present in terms of time zones and distractions. If I’m watching events in Pacific Time from my home, it’s usually the middle of the night to make the keynote. And I have the day job to consider as well.

That said, I think it’s fantastic that companies like Veeam have been able to adjust their approach to what was a fairly traditional model when it came to customer and partner engagement. Sure, we won’t be able to get together for a meal in person, but we’ll still have the opportunity to hear about what Veeam’s been up to, and find out a little more about what’s coming next. Ultimately, that’s what these kind of events are about.

 

World Backup Day 2020

World Backup Day has been and gone already (it’s 31st March each year). I don’t normally write much about it, as I’d like to think that every day is World Backup Day. But not everyone is into data protection in the same way I am though. Every year, some very nice people at a PR firm I work with send me a series of quotes about World Backup Day, and I invariably file them away, and don’t write anything on the topic. But I thought this year, “in these uncertain times”, that it might be an idea to put together a short article that included some of those quotes and some of my own thoughts on the topic.

 

The Vendor’s View

Steve Cochran (Chief Technology Officer, ConnectWise), had this to say on the topic:

“There are two major reasons why we should take backups seriously: Hardware failure and human error. Systems are not foolproof and every piece of hardware will fail eventually, so it’s not a question of if, but rather when, these failures will happen. If you haven’t kept up with your backups, you’ll get caught unprepared. There’s also a factor of human error where you might accidentally delete a file or photo. We put our entire lives on our computers and mobile devices, but we also make mistakes, and not having a backup system in place is almost silly at this point. While you need to dedicate some time to set up automatic backups, you don’t have to keep up with them — they simply run in the background.”

 

Yev Pusin (Director of Strategy, Backblaze), chipped in with this:

“World Backup Day is coming up, and while many will folks will go with phrases like ‘Don’t be an April Fool, Backup Today,’ it is not the route I’ll go down this year. Backing up your data is something that should be taken seriously, especially with the recent increase in major ransomware attacks and the sudden increase in the amount of remote workers we are seeing in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.

While World Backup Day serves as a great reminder of the importance of backing up your data, data backup is something that should be an everyday activity. That used to be a daunting task, but it no longer has to be one!”

 

Carl D’Halluin (CTO, Datadobi), had this to say on the topic:

“Ultimately, in a world of rising threats, organizations must develop the ability to protect and back up their data quickly, flexibly, securely, and cost-effectively, so data can be backed up down to the individual file level.”

 

Data Protection is Everyone’s Problem

Data protection is everyone’s problem. But I don’t want that to sound like I’m trying to scare you. It’s one of those things that’s important though. More and more of our everyday activities revolve around technology and data. In the much the same way as most of us now have home insurance, and car insurance, and health insurance, we also need to consider the need for data insurance. This isn’t just a problem for companies, and it’s not just a problem for the end user, it’s a problem for everyone.

So what can you do? There’s all manner of things you can do to improve your personal and business data protection situation. From a personal perspective, I recommend you do the equivalent of going to your doctor for a health check, and do a health check on your data. Spend a day taking note of everything that you interact with, and question the data that’s generated during those interactions. Is it important to you? What would you do if you couldn’t access it? Then go and find a way to protect it if possible. That might be something as mundane as taking screenshots of messages (and baking up the resultant screenshots). It might be more complicated, and involve installing some software on your computer. Whatever it is, if you’re not doing it, and you think you should be, try and make it a priority. If it all seems too complicated, or something you don’t feel capable of doing yourself, don’t be afraid to ask people on the Internet for help.

The same goes for business. You might work for a company where the responsibility for data protection in a corporate sense lies with someone else, but I would suggest that, just like workplace health and safety, data protection (availability, integrity, and security) is everyone’s responsibility. If you’re generating data and keeping it on your laptop, how is your company going to protect that data? Is there a place you should be storing it? Why aren’t you doing that? Is your company relying on SaaS applications but not protecting those apps? Talk to the people responsible. Things go wrong all the time. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of it. Indeed, in celebration of World Backup Day, I recently jumped on a Druva podcast with W. Curtis Preston and Stephen Manley to talk about when things do go wrong. You can listen to it here.

Data protection can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Particularly when you start to understand the value of your data. So let’s all try to make every day “World Backup Day”. Okay, I know that’s a terrible line, but you know what I mean.

Random Short Take #31

Welcome to Random Short Take #31. Lot of good players have worn 31 in the NBA. You’d think I’d call this the Reggie edition (and I appreciate him more after watching Winning Time), but this one belongs to Brent Barry. This may be related to some recency bias I have, based on the fact that Brent is a commentator in NBA 2K19, but I digress …

  • Late last year I wrote about Scale Computing’s big bet on a small form factor. Scale Computing recently announced that Jerry’s Foods is using the HE150 solution for in-store computing.
  • I find Plex to be a pretty rock solid application experience, and most of the problems I’ve had with it have been client-related. I recently had a problem with a server update that borked my installation though, and had to roll back. Here’s the quick and dirty way to do that on macOS.
  • Here’s are 7 contentious thoughts on data protection from Preston. I think there are some great ideas here and I recommend taking the time to read this article.
  • I recently had the chance to speak with Michael Jack from Datadobi about the company’s announcement about its new DIY Starter Pack for NAS migrations. Whilst it seems that the professional services market for NAS migrations has diminished over the last few years, there’s still plenty of data out there that needs to be moved from on box to another. Robocopy and rsync aren’t always the best option when you need to move this much data around.
  • There are a bunch of things that people need to learn to do operations well. A lot of them are learnt the hard way. This is a great list from Jan Schaumann.
  • Analyst firms are sometimes misunderstood. My friend Enrico Signoretti has been working at GigaOm for a little while now, and I really enjoyed this article on the thinking behind the GigaOm Radar.
  • Nexsan recently announced some enhancements to its “BEAST” storage platforms. You can read more on that here.
  • Alastair isn’t just a great writer and moustache aficionado, he’s also a trainer across a number of IT disciplines, including AWS. He recently posted this useful article on what AWS newcomers can expect when it comes to managing EC2 instances.

Random Short Take #30

Welcome to Random Short Take #30. You’d think 30 would be an easy choice, given how much I like Wardell Curry II, but for this one I’m giving a shout out to Rasheed Wallace instead. I’m a big fan of ‘Sheed. I hope you all enjoy these little trips down NBA memory lane. Here we go.

  • Veeam 10’s release is imminent. Anthony has been doing a bang up job covering some of the enhancements in the product. This article was particularly interesting because I work in a company selling Veeam and using vCloud Director.
  • Sticking with data protection, Curtis wrote an insightful article on backups and frequency.
  • If you’re in Europe or parts of the US (or can get there easily), like writing about technology, and you’re into cars and stuff, this offer from Cohesity could be right up your alley.
  • I was lucky enough to have a chat with Sheng Liang from Rancher Labs a few weeks ago about how it’s going in the market. I’m relatively Kubernetes illiterate, but it sounds like there’s a bit going on.
  • For something completely different, this article from Christian on Raspberry Pi, volumio and HiFiBerry was great. Thanks for the tip!
  • Spinning disk may be as dead as tape, if these numbers are anything to go by.
  • This was a great article from Matt Crape on home lab planning.
  • Speaking of home labs, Shanks posted an interesting article on what he has running. The custom-built rack is inspired.

Infrascale Protects Your Infrastructure At Scale

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 19.  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.

Infrascale recently presented at Storage Field Day 19. You can see videos of the presentation here, and download my rough notes from here.

 

Infrascale?

Russ Reeder (CEO) introduced the delegates to Infrascale. If you’ve not heard of Infrascale before, it’s a service provider and vendor focused primarily on backup and disaster recovery services. It has around 150 employees and operates in 10 cities in 5 countries. Infrascale currently services around 60000 customers / 250000 VMs and endpoints. Reeder said Infrascale as a company is “[p]assionate about its customers’ happiness and success”.

 

Product Portfolio

There are four different products in the Infrascale portfolio.

Infrascale Cloud Backup (ICB)

  • Backup directly to the cloud
  • Recover data in seconds
  • Optimised for endpoints and branch office servers
  • Ransomware detection & remediation

Infrascale Cloud Application Backup (ICAB)

  • Defy cloud applications limited retention policies
  • Backup O365, SharePoint and OneDrive, G-Suite, Salesforce.com, box.com, and more
  • Recover individual mail items or mailboxes

Infrascale Disaster Recovery – Local (IDR-LOCAL)

  • Backup systems to an on-premises appliance
  • Run system replicas (locally) in minutes
  • Restore from on-premises appliance or the cloud
  • Archive / DR data to disk

Infrascale Disaster Recovery – Cloud (IDR-CLOUD)

  • Backup systems to an on-premises appliance and to a bootable cloud appliance
  • Run system replicas in minutes (locally or boot in the cloud)
  • Optimised for mission-critical physical and virtual servers

Support for Almost Everything

Infrascale offers support for almost everything, including VMware, Hyper-V, Bare Metal, End Points, public cloud workloads.

Other Features

Speedy DR locally or to the Cloud

  • IDR is very fast – boot ready in minutes
  • IDR enables recovery locally or in the cloud

Backup Target Optionality; Vigilant Data Security

  • ICB allows for backup targets “anywhere”
  • ICB detects ransomware and mitigates impact

Single View

The Infrascale dashboard does a pretty decent job of providing all of the information you might need about the service in a single view.

[image courtesy of Infrascale]

Appliances

There are a variety of appliance options available, as well as virtual editions of the appliance that you can use.

[image courtesy of Infrascale]

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

Regular readers of this blog would know that I’m pretty interested in data protection as a topic. I’m sad to say that I hadn’t heard of Infrascale prior to this presentation, but I’m glad I have now. There are a lot of service providers out there offering some level of data protection and disaster recovery as a service. These services offer varying levels of protection, features, and commercial benefits. Infrascale distinguish themselves by offering its own hardware platform as a core part of the offering, rather than building a solution based on one of the major data protection vendors.

In my day job I work a lot with product development for these types of solutions and, to be honest, the idea of developing a hardware data protection appliance is not something that appeals. As a lot of failed hardware vendors will tell you, it’s one thing to have a great idea, and quite another to execute successfully on that idea. But Infrascale has done the hard work on engineering the solution, and it seems to offer all of the features the average punter looks for in a DPaaS and DRaaS offering. I’m also a big fan of the fact that it offers support for endpoint protection, as I think this is a segment that is historically under-represented in the data protection space. It has a good number of customers, primarily in the SME range, and is continuing to add services to its product portfolio.

Disaster recovery and data protection are things at that aren’t always done very well by small to medium enterprises. Unfortunately, these types of businesses tend to have the most to lose when something goes wrong with their critical business data (either via operator error, ransomware, or actual disaster). Something like Infrascale’s offering is a great way to take away a lot of the complexity traditionally associated with protecting that important data. I’m looking forward to hearing more about Infrascale in the future.

Random Short Take #29

Welcome to Random Short Take #29. You’d think 29 would be a hard number to line up with basketball players, but it turns out that Marcus Camby wore it one year when he played for Houston. It was at the tail-end of his career, but still. Anyhoo …

  • I love a good story about rage-quitting projects, and this one is right up there. I’ve often wondered what it must be like to work on open source projects and dealing with the craziness that is the community.
  • I haven’t worked on a Scalar library in over a decade, but Quantum is still developing them. There’s an interesting story here in terms of protecting your protection data using air gaps. I feel like this is already being handled a different way by the next-generation data protection companies, but when all you have is a hammer. And the cost per GB is still pretty good with tape.
  • I always enjoy Keith’s ability to take common problems and look at them with a fresh perspective. I’m interested to see just how far he goes down the rabbit hole with this DC project.
  • Backblaze frequently comes up with useful articles for both enterprise punters and home users alike. This article on downloading your social media presence is no exception. The processes are pretty straightforward to follow, and I think it’s a handy exercise to undertake every now and then.
  • The home office is the new home lab. Or, perhaps, as we work anywhere now, it’s important to consider setting up a space in your home that actually functions as a workspace. This article from Andrew Miller covers some of the key considerations.
  • This article from John Troyer about writing was fantastic. Just read it.
  • Scale Computing was really busy last year. How busy? Busy enough to pump out a press release that you can check out here. The company also has a snazzy new website and logo that you should check out.
  • Veeam v10 is coming “very soon”. You can register here to find out more. I’m keen to put this through its paces.

Random Short Take #27

Welcome to my semi-regular, random news post in a short format. This is #27. You’d think it would be hard to keep naming them after basketball players, and it is. None of my favourite players ever wore 27, but Marvin Barnes did surface as a really interesting story, particularly when it comes to effective communication with colleagues. Happy holidays too, as I’m pretty sure this will be the last one of these posts I do this year. I’ll try and keep it short, as you’ve probably got stuff to do.

  • This story of serious failure on El Reg had me in stitches.
  • I really enjoyed this article by Raj Dutt (over at Cohesity’s blog) on recovery predictability. As an industry we talk an awful lot about speeds and feeds and supportability, but sometimes I think we forget about keeping it simple and making sure we can get our stuff back as we expect.
  • Speaking of data protection, I wrote some articles for Druva about, well, data protection and things of that nature. You can read them here.
  • There have been some pretty important CBT-related patches released by VMware recently. Anthony has provided a handy summary here.
  • Everything’s an opinion until people actually do it, but I thought this research on cloud adoption from Leaseweb USA was interesting. I didn’t expect to see everyone putting their hands up and saying they’re all in on public cloud, but I was also hopeful that we, as an industry, hadn’t made things as unclear as they seem to be. Yay, hybrid!
  • Site sponsor StorONE has partnered with Tech Data Global Computing Components to offer an All-Flash Array as a Service solution.
  • Backblaze has done a nice job of talking about data protection and cloud storage through the lens of Star Wars.
  • This tip on removing particular formatting in Microsoft Word documents really helped me out recently. Yes I know Word is awful.
  • Someone was nice enough to give me an acknowledgement for helping review a non-fiction book once. Now I’ve managed to get a character named after me in one of John Birmingham’s epics. You can read it out of context here. And if you’re into supporting good authors on Patreon – then check out JB’s page here. He’s a good egg, and his literary contributions to the world have been fantastic over the years. I don’t say this just because we live in the same city either.