Independent Research Firm Cites Druva As A Strong Performer in latest Data Resiliency Solutions Wave

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and you’ll probably see the content elsewhere on the Internet. Druva provided no editorial input and the words and opinions in this post are my own.

Druva was among the select companies that Forrester invited to participate in their latest Data Resiliency Solutions Wave, for Q3 2019. In its debut for this report, Druva was cited as a Strong Performer in Data Resilience. I recently had an opportunity to speak to W. Curtis Preston, Druva’s Chief Technologist, about the report, and thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.

 

Let’s Get SaaS-y

Druva was the only company listed in the Forrester Wave™ Data Resiliency Solutions whose products are only offered as a service. One of the great things about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is that the vendor takes care of everything for you. Other models of solution delivery require hardware, software (or both) to be installed on-premises or close to the workload you want to protect. The beauty of a SaaS delivery model is that Druva can provide you with a data protection solution that they manage from end to end. If you’re hoping that there’ll be some new feature delivered as part of the solution, you don’t have to worry about planning the upgrade to the latest version; Druva takes care of that for you. There’s no need for you to submit change management documentation or negotiate infrastructure outages with key stakeholders. And if something goes wrong with the platform upgrade, the vendor will take care of it. All you need to worry about is ensuring that your network access is maintained and you’re paying the bills. If your capacity is growing out of line with your expectations, it’s a problem for Druva, not you. And, as I alluded to earlier, you get access to features in a timely fashion. Druva can push those out when they’ve tested them, and everyone gets access to them without having to wait. Their time to market is great, and there aren’t a lot of really long release cycles involved.

 

Management

The report also called out how easy it was to manage Druva, as Forrester gave them their highest score 5 (out of 5) in this category. All of their services are available via a single management interface. I don’t recall at what point in my career I started to pay attention to vendors talking to me about managing everything from a single pane of glass. I think that the nature of enterprise infrastructure operations dictates that we look for unified management solutions wherever we can. Enterprise infrastructure is invariably complicated, and we want simplicity wherever we can get it. Having everything on one screen doesn’t always mean that things will be simple, but Druva has focused on ensuring that the management experience delivers on the promise of simplified operations. The simplified operations are also comprehensive, and there’s support for cloud-native / AWS resources (with CloudRanger), data centre workloads (with Druva Phoenix) and SaaS workloads (with Druva inSync) via a single pane of glass.  Although not included in the report, Druva also supports backing up endpoints, such as laptops and mobile devices.

 

Deduplication Is No Joke

One of Forrester’s criteria was whether or not a product offered deduplication. Deduplication has radically transformed the data protection storage market. Prior to the widespread adoption of deduplication and compression technologies in data protection storage, tape provided the best value in terms of price and capacity. This all changed when enterprises were able to store many copies of their data in the space required by one copy. Druva uses deduplication effectively in its solution, and has a patent on its implementation of the technology. They also leverage global deduplication in their solution, providing enterprises with an efficient use of protection data storage. Note that this capability needs to be in a single AWS region, as you wouldn’t want it running across regions. The key to Druva’s success with deduplication has been also due to its use of DynamoDB to support deduplication operations at scale.

 

Your Security Is Their Concern

Security was a key criterion in Forrester’s evaluation, and Druva received another 5 – the highest score possible – in that category as well. One of the big concerns for enterprises is the security of protection data being stored in cloud platforms. There’s no point spending a lot of money trying to protect your critical information assets if a copy of those same assets has been left exposed on the Internet for all to see. With Druva’s solution, everything stored in S3 is sharded and stored as separate objects. They’re not just taking big chunks of your protection data and storing them in buckets for everyone to see. Even if someone were able to access the storage, and put all of the pieces back together, it would be useless because all of these shards are also encrypted.  In addition, the metadata needed to re-assemble the shards is stored separately in DynamoDB and is also encrypted.

 

Thoughts

I believe being named a Strong Performer in the Forrester Wave™ Data Resiliency Solutions validates what Druva’s been telling me when it comes to their ability to protect workloads in the data centre, the cloud, and in SaaS environments. Their strength seems to lie in their ability to leverage native cloud tools effectively to provide their customers with a solution that is simple to operate and consume. If you have petabytes of seismic data you need to protect, Druva (and the laws of physics) may not be a great fit for you. But if you have less esoteric requirements and a desire to reduce your on-premises footprint and protect workloads across a number of environments, then Druva is worthy of further consideration. If you wanted to take a look at the report yourself, you can do so here (registration required).

Backblaze’s World Tour Of Europe

I spoke with Ahin Thomas at VMworld US last week about what Backblaze has been up to lately. The big news is that they’ve expanded data centre operations into Europe (Amsterdam specifically). Here’s a blog post from Backblaze talking about their new EU DC, and these three articles do a great job of explaining the process behind the DC selection.

So what does this mean exactly? If you’re not so keen on keeping your data in a US DC, you can create an account and start leveraging the EU region. There’s no facility to migrate existing data (at this stage), but if you have a lot of data you want to upload, you could use the B2 Fireball to get it in there.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

When you think of Backblaze it’s likely that you think of their personal backup product, and the aforementioned hard drive stats and storage pod reference designs. So it might seem a little weird to see them giving briefings at a show like VMworld. But their B2 business is ramping up, and a lot of people involved in delivering VMware-based cloud services are looking at object storage as a way to do cost-effective storage at scale. There are also plenty of folks in the mid-market segment trying to find more cost effective ways to store older data and protect it without making huge investments in the traditional data protection offerings on the market.

It’s still early days in terms of some of the features on offer from Backblaze that can leverage multi-region capabilities, but the EU presence is a great first step in expanding their footprint and giving non-US customers the option to use resources that aren’t located on US soil. Sure, you’re still dealing with a US company, and you’re paying in US dollars, but at least you’ve got a little more choice in terms of where the data will be stored. I’ve been a Backblaze customer for my personal backups for some time, and I’m always happy to hear good news stories coming out of the company. I’m a big fan of the level of transparency they’ve historically shown, particularly when other vendors have chosen to present their solutions as magical black boxes. Sharing things like the storage pod design and hard drive statistics goes a long way to developing trust in Backblaze as the keeper of your stuff.

The business of using cloud storage for data protection and scalable file storage isn’t as simple as jamming a few rackmount boxes in a random DC, filling them with hard drives, charging $5 a month, and waiting for the money to roll in. There’s a lot more to it than that. You need to have a product that people want, you need to know how to deliver that product, and you need to be able to evolve as technology (and the market) evolves. I’m happy to see that Backblaze have moved into storage services with B2, and the move to the EU is another sign of that continuing evolution. I’m looking forward (with some amount of anticipation) to hearing what’s next with Backblaze.

If you’re thinking about taking up a subscription with Backblaze – you can use my link to sign up and I’ll get a free month and you will too.

Random Short Take #19

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 19 – let’s get tropical! It’s all happening.

  • I seem to link to Alastair’s blog a lot. That’s mainly because he’s writing about things that interest me, like this article on data governance and data protection. Plus he’s a good bloke.
  • Speaking of data protection, Chris M. Evans has been writing some interesting articles lately on things like backup as a service. Having worked in the service provider space for a piece of my career, I wholeheartedly agree that it can be a “leap of faith” on the part of the customer to adopt these kinds of services.
  • This post by Raffaello Poltronieri on VMware’s vRealize Operations session at Tech Field Day 19 makes for good reading.
  • This podcast episode from W. Curtis Preston was well worth the listen. I’m constantly fascinated by the challenges presented to infrastructure in media and entertainment environments, particularly when it comes to data protection.
  • I always enjoy reading Preston’s perspective on data protection challenges, and this article is no exception.
  • This article from Tom Hollingsworth was honest and probably cut too close to the bone with a lot of readers. There are a lot of bad habits that we develop in our jobs, whether we’re coding, running infrastructure, or flipping burgers. The key is to identify those behaviours and work to address them where possible.
  • Over at SimplyGeek.co.uk, Gavin has been posting a number of Ansible-related articles, including this one on automating vSphere VM and ova deployments. A number of folks in the industry talk a tough game when it comes to automation, and it’s nice to see Gavin putting it on wax and setting a great example.
  • The Mark Of Cain have announced a national tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their Battlesick album. Unfortunately I may not be in the country when they’re playing in my part of the woods, but if you’re in Australia you can find out more information here.

Druva – In The Cloud, Of The Cloud, Protecting The Cloud

Disclaimer: I recently attended Tech 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.

 

Druva recently presented at Tech Field Day 19. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here. Here’s a photo of Jaspreet Singh kicking things off.

 

Let’s Talk About You

What do people want in a backup system?

I’ll tell you what we want. What we really, really want. Less Spice Girls ear worms. And a data protection service. It seems simplistic, but it’s true. A lot of organisations are tired of being IT organisations and they just want to consume services from companies that are IT organisations. That’s not a copout. They want to make money doing the things they’re good at. It’s one of the big reasons public cloud has proven so popular. Druva offers a service, and are positioning themselves as being to backups what Salesforce is to CRM. The key selling point is that they can do data protection simpler, faster, cheaper, and safer. And you get the two big benefits of SaaS:

  • There’s nothing to maintain; and
  • New features are made available immediately.

Am I The Ideal Druva Customer?

Are you a good fit though? If you’re running modern / virtualised workloads, Druva want to talk to you. To wit, if you find yourself in one of these categories you should be okay:

  • “Versatilist” Users;
  • Cloud focus or initiative;
  • Hybrid cloud environment;
  • Distributed workloads, including laptops;
  • SaaS adopter (SFDC, O365, G Suite); and
  • Moving away from legacy Unix and apps.

The more distributed your company is – the better Druva looks.

Who’s not a good fit for Druva though? Enterprises that:

  • Must have an on-premises backup system;
  • Have no desire to leverage cloud; and
  • Want a backup system for legacy OS / apps.

Poor enterprises, missing out again.

 

Challenges Solved by Druva

Curtis knows a bit about data protection, and he’s been around for a while now, so he remembers when not everything was peaches and cream in the data protection world. He talked about the various trends in data protection over the years and used the below table as an anchor point. The gist of it is that a solution such as the one Druva has doesn’t have quite as many challenges as the more “traditional” data protection systems we were using through for the last 20 plus years (yes, and longer still, I know).

! $ ? Challenges
$ ? Design, maintain, refresh physical backup server & storage
! $ ? Patch & upgrade backup server OS
! $ ? Patch & upgrade backup server software
! $ ? Manage multiple vendors (server, backup sw, tape, disk)
! Tape can be lost or stolen ???
$ ? Tape requires constant performance tweaking
$ Tape requires offsite vaulting vendor ???
$ Hardware typically bought in advance
$ ? Over-provision compute / storage (growth and variable load)
$ ? Not easy to scale
$ Unexpected / variable costs
$ Massive capital expenditures
! First large backup
! Any large restore

Every vendor can look good when you take tape out of consideration. It has an awful a lot of advantages in terms of capacity and economy, but the execution can often be a real pain. Druva also compete pretty well with the “hyper-converged” backup vendors, although I think they get a bad rap for having a focus on hardware that isn’t necessarily as much of a problem as some people think. The real killer feature for Druva is the cloud-native architecture, and the SaaS story in general.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of Curtis for years, so when he moved to Druva I was intrigued and wanted to hear more. But Druva isn’t just Curtis. There are a whole bunch of people at the company who know cloud, and data protection, and have managed to put them together into a solution that makes a lot of sense. And I like what I’ve seen thus far. There’s a really good story here, particularly if you’re all in on cloud, and running relatively modern applications. The heritage in endpoint protection has helped them overcome some obstacles that other vendors haven’t had to deal with yet. They’re also willing to admit that not everything is perfect, particularly when it comes to getting that first large backup done. They also believe that “[w]ithin the limits of physics they can scale to meet the needs of most customers”. You’re not going to be able to achieve RPO 0 and RTO 0 with Druva. But that’s what things like replication are for. What they do offer, however, is an RTO of minutes, not hours. A few other things they don’t do include VM live mount and native support for Azure and GCP.

What Druva do do well is understand that customers have requirements that can be satisfied though the use of protection data. They also understand the real operational value (in terms of resiliency and reduced spend) that can be had with SaaS-based offerings. We all talk a tough game when it comes to buying what we think is the absolute best solution to protect our data, and rightly so. A business’s data is (hopefully) one of its most critical assets, and we should do anything we can to protect it. Druva are as dedicated as the next company to that philosophy, but they’ve also realised that the average business is under constant pressure to reduce costs wherever possible. Now you don’t just get to access the benefits of running your applications in the cloud – you can also get the benefit of protecting them in the cloud too.

Tape was hard to do well, and many of us have horror stories about things going wrong. Cloud can be hard to do well too, and there are plenty of stories of cloud going horribly wrong. Druva isn’t magic, but it does help take away a lot of the complexity that’s been frequently attached with protecting cloud-native workloads.

Brisbane VMUG – August 2019

hero_vmug_express_2011

The August edition of the Brisbane VMUG meeting will be held on Tuesday 20th August at Fishburners from 4 – 6pm. It’s sponsored by Dell EMC and should to be a great afternoon.

Here’s the agenda:

  • VMUG Intro
  • VMware Presentation: TBA
  • Dell EMC Presentation: Protecting Your Critical Assets With Dell EMC
  • Q&A
  • Refreshments and drinks.

Dell EMC have gone to great lengths to make sure this will be a fun and informative session and I’m really looking forward to hearing about their data protection portfolio. You can find out more information and register for the event here. I hope to see you there. Also, if you’re interested in sponsoring one of these events, please get in touch with me and I can help make it happen.

Random Short Take #18

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 18 – buckle up kids! It’s all happening.

  • Cohesity added support for Active Directory protection with version 6.3 of the DataPlatform. Matt covered it pretty comprehensively here.
  • Speaking of Cohesity, Alastair wrote this article on getting started with the Cohesity PowerShell Module.
  • In keeping with the data protection theme (hey, it’s what I’m into), here’s a great article from W. Curtis Preston on SaaS data protection, and what you need to consider to not become another cautionary tale on the Internet. Curtis has written a lot about data protection over the years, and you could do a lot worse than reading what he has to say. And that’s not just because he signed a book for me.
  • Did you ever stop and think just how insecure some of the things that you put your money into are? It’s a little scary. Shell are doing some stuff with Cybera to improve things. Read more about that here.
  • I used to work with Vincent, and he’s a super smart guy. I’ve been at him for years to start blogging, and he’s started to put out some articles. He’s very good at taking complex topics and distilling them down to something that’s easy to understand. Here’s his summary of VMware vRealize Automation configuration.
  • Tom’s take on some recent CloudFlare outages makes for good reading.
  • Google Cloud has announced it’s acquiring Elastifile. That part of the business doesn’t seem to be as brutal as the broader Alphabet group when it comes to acquiring and discarding companies, and I’m hoping that the good folks at Elastifile are looked after. You can read more on that here.
  • A lot of people are getting upset with terms like “disaggregated HCI”. Chris Mellor does a bang up job explaining the differences between the various architectures here. It’s my belief that there’s a place for all of this, and assuming that one architecture will suit every situation is a little naive. But what do I know?

Zerto – News From ZertoCON 2019

Zerto recently held their annual user conference (ZertoCON) in Nashville, TN. I had the opportunity to talk to Rob Strechay about some of the key announcements coming out of the event and thought I’d cover them here.

 

Key Announcements

Licensing

You can now acquire Zerto either as a perpetual license or via a subscription. There’s previously been some concept of subscription pricing with Zerto, with customers having rented via managed service providers, but this is the first time it’s being offered directly to customers. Strechay noted that Zerto is “[n]ot trying to move to a subscription-only model”, but they are keen to give customers further flexibility in how they consume the product. Note that the subscription pricing also includes maintenance and support.

7.5 Is Just Around The Corner

If it feels like 7.0 was only just delivered, that’s because it was (in April). But 7.5 is already just around the corner. They’re looking to add a bunch of features, including:

  • Deeper integration with StoreOnce from HPE using Catalyst-based API, leveraging source-side deduplication
  • Qualification of Azure’s Data Box
  • Cloud mobility – in 7.0 they started down the path with Azure. Zerto Cloud Appliances now autoscale within Azure.

Azure Integration

There’s a lot more focus on Azure in 7.5, and Zerto are working on

  • Managed failback / managed disks in Azure
  • Integration with Azure Active Directory
  • Adding encryption at rest in AWS, and doing some IAM integration
  • Automated driver injection on the fly as you recover into AWS (with Red Hat)

Resource Planner

Building on their previous analytics work, you’ll also be able to (shortly) download Zerto Virtual Manager. This talks to vCenter and can gather data and help customers plan their VMware to VMware (or to Azure / AWS) migrations.

VAIO

Zerto has now completed the initial certification to use VMware’s vSphere APIs for I/O Filtering (VAIO) and they’ll be leveraging these in 7.5. Strechay said they’ll probably have both versions in the product for a little while.

 

Thoughts And Further Reading

I’d spoken with Strechay previously about Zerto’s plans to compete against the “traditional” data protection vendors, and asked him what the customer response has been to Zerto’s ambitions (and execution). He said that, as they’re already off-siting data (as part of the 3-2-1 data protection philosophy), how hard is it to take it to the next level? He said a number of customers were very motivated to use long term retention, and wanted to move on from their existing backup vendors. I’ve waxed lyrical in the past about what I thought some of the key differences were between periodic data protection, disaster recovery, and disaster avoidance were. That doesn’t mean that companies like Zerto aren’t doing a pretty decent job of blurring the lines between the types of solution they offer, particularly with the data mobility capabilities built in to their offerings. I think there’s a lot of scope with Zerto to move into spaces that they’ve previously only been peripherally involved in. It makes sense that they’d focus on data mobility and off-site data protection capabilities. There’s a good story developing with their cloud integration, and it seems like they’ll just continue to add features and capabilities to the product. I really like that they’re not afraid to make promises on upcoming releases and have (thus far) been able to deliver on them.

The news about VAIO certification is pretty big, and it might remove some of the pressure that potential customers have faced previously about adopting protection solutions that weren’t entirely blessed by VMware.

I’m looking forward to see what Zerto ends up delivering with 7.5, and I’m really enjoying the progress they’re making with both their on-premises and public cloud focused solutions. You can read Zerto’s press release here, and Andrea Mauro published a comprehensive overview here.

Random Short Take #15

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 15 – it could become a regular thing. Maybe every other week? Fortnightly even.

Veeam Basics – Configuring A Scale-Out Backup Repository

I’ve been doing some integration testing with Pure Storage and Veeam in the lab recently, and thought I’d write an article on configuring a scale-out backup repository (SOBR). To learn more about SOBR configurations, you can read the Veeam documentation here. This post from Rick Vanover also covers the what and the why of SOBR. In this example, I’m using a couple of FlashBlade-based NFS repositories that I’ve configured as per these instructions. Each NFS repository is mounted on a separate Linux virtual machine. I’m using a Windows-based Veeam Backup & Replication server running version 9.5 Update 4.

 

Process

Start by going to Backup Infrastructure -> Scale-out Repositories and click on Add Scale-out Repository.

Give it a name, maybe something snappy like “Scale-out Backup Repository 1”?

Click on Add to add the backup repositories.

When you click on Add, you’ll have the option to select the backup repositories you want to use. You can select them all, but for the purpose of this exercise, we won’t.

In this example, Backup Repository 1 and 2 are the NFS locations I configured previously. Select those two and click on OK.

You’ll now see the repositories listed as Extents.

Click on Advanced to check the advanced setttings are what you expect them to be. Click on OK.

Click Next to continue. You’ll see the following message.

You then choose the placement policy. It’s strongly recommended that you stick with Data locality as the placement policy.

You can also pick object storage to use as a Capacity Tier.

You’ll also have an option to configure the age of the files to be moved, and when they can be moved. And you might want to encrypt the data uploaded to your object storage environment, depending on where that object storage lives.

Once you’re happy, click on Apply. You’ll be presented with a summary of the configuration (and hopefully there won’t be any errors).

 

Thoughts

The SOBR feature, in my opinion, is pretty cool. I particularly like the ability to put extents in maintenance mode. And the option to use object storage as a capacity tier is a very useful feature. You get some granular control in terms of where you put your backup data, and what kind of performance you can throw at the environment. And as you can see, it’s not overly difficult to configure the environment. There are a few things to keep on mind though. Make sure your extents are stored on resilient hardware. If you keep your backup sets together with the data locality option, you’l be a sad panda if that extent goes bye bye. And the same goes for the performance option. You’ll also need Enterprise or Enterprise Plus editions of Veeam Backup & Replication for this feature to work. And you can’t use this feature for these types of jobs:

  • Configuration backup job;
  • Replication jobs (including replica seeding);
  • VM copy jobs; and
  • Veeam Agent backup jobs created by Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows 1.5 or earlier and Veeam Agent for Linux 1.0 Update 1 or earlier.

There are any number of reasons why a scale-out backup repository can be a handy feature to use in your data protection environment. I’ve had the misfortune in the past of working with products that were difficult to manage from a data mobility perspective. Too many times I’ve been stuck going through all kinds of mental gymnastics working out how to migrate data sets from one storage platform to the next. With this it’s a simple matter of a few clicks and you’re on your way with a new bucket. The tiering to object feature is also useful, particularly if you need to keep backup sets around for compliance reasons. There’s no need to spend money on these living on performance disk if you can comfortably have them sitting on capacity storage after a period of time. And if you can control this movement through a policy-driven approach, then that’s even better. If you’re new to Veeam, it’s worth checking out a feature like this, particularly if you’re struggling with media migration challenges in your current environment. And if you’re an existing Enterprise or Enterprise Plus customer, this might be something you can take advantage of.

Random Short Take #14

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 14 – giddy-up!