Random Short Take #26

Welcome to my semi-regular, random news post in a short format. This is #26. I was going to start naming them after my favourite basketball players. This one could be the Korver edition, for example. I don’t think that’ll last though. We’ll see. I’ll stop rambling now.

Random Short Take #25

Want some news? In a shorter format? And a little bit random? Here’s a short take you might be able to get behind. Welcome to #25. This one seems to be dominated by things related to Veeam.

  • Adam recently posted a great article on protecting VMConAWS workloads using Veeam. You can read it about it here.
  • Speaking of Veeam, Hal has released v2 of MS Office 365 Backup Analysis Tool. You can use it to work out how much capacity you’ll need to protect your O365 workloads. And you can figure out what your licensing costs will be, as well as a bunch of other cool stuff.
  • And in more Veeam news, the VeeamON Virtual event is coming up soon. It will be run across multiple timezones and should be really interesting. You can find out more about that here.
  • This article by Russ on copyright and what happens when bots go wild made for some fascinating reading.
  • Tech Field Day turns 10 years old this year, and Stephen has been running a series of posts covering some of the history of the event. Sadly I won’t be able to make it to the celebration at Tech Field Day 20, but if you’re in the right timezone it’s worthwhile checking it out.
  • Need to connect to an SMB share on your iPad or iPhone? Check out this article (assuming you’re running iOS 13 or iPadOS 13.1).
  • It grinds my gears when this kind of thing happens. But if the mighty corporations have launched a line of products without thinking it through, we shouldn’t expect them to maintain that line of products. Right?
  • Storage and Hollywood can be a real challenge. This episode of Curtis‘s podcast really got into some of the details with Jeff Rochlin.

 

Veeam Basics – Cloud Tier And v10

Disclaimer: I recently attended Veeam Vanguard Summit 2019.  My flights, accommodation, and some meals were paid for by Veeam. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated by Veeam 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.

Overview

Depending on how familiar you are with Veeam, you may already have heard of the Cloud Tier feature. This was new in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 4, and “is the built-in automatic tiering feature of Scale-out Backup Repository that offloads older backup files to more affordable storage, such as cloud or on-premises object storage”. The idea is you can use the cloud (or cloud-like on-premises storage resources) to make more effective (read: economical) use of your primary storage repositories. You can read more about Veeam’s object storage capabilities here.

 

v10 Enhancements

Move, Copy, Move and Copy

In 9.5 U4 the Move mode was introduced:

  • Policy allows chunks of data to be stripped out of a backup files
  • Metadata remains locally on the performance tier
  • Data moved and offloaded into capacity tier
  • Capacity Tier backed by an object storage repository

The idea was that your performance tier provided the landing zone for backup data, and the capacity tier was an object storage repository that data was moved to. Rhys does a nice job of covering Cloud Tier here.

Copy + Move

In v10, you’ll be able to do both copy and move activities on older backup data. Here are some things to note about copy mode:

  • Still uses the same mechanics as Move
  • Data is chunked and offloaded to the Capacity Tier
  • Unlike Move we don’t dehydrate VBK / VIB / VRB
  • Like Move this ensures that all restore functionality is retained
  • Still makes use of the Archive Index and similar to Move
  • Will not duplicate blocks being offloaded from the Performance Tier
  • Both Copy + Move is fully supported
  • Copy + Move will share block data between them

[image courtesy of Veeam]

With Copy and Move the Capacity Tier will contain a copy of every backup file that has been created as well as offloaded data from the Performance Tier. Anthony does a great job of covering off the Cloud Tier Copy feature in more depth here.

Immutability

One of the features I’m really excited about (because I’m into some weird stuff) is the Cloud Tier Immutability feature.

  • Guarantees additional protection for data stored in Object storage
  • Protects against malicious users and accidental deletion (ITP Theory)
  • Applies to data offloaded to capacity tier for Move or Copy
  • Protects the most recent (more important) backup points
  • Beware of increased storage consumption and S3 costs

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

The idea of moving protection data to a cheaper storage repository isn’t a new one. Fifteen years ago we were excited to be enjoying backup to disk as a new way of doing data protection. Sure, it wasn’t (still isn’t) as cheap as tape, but it was a lot more flexible and performance oriented. Unfortunately, the problem with disk-based backup systems is that you need a lot of disk to keep up with the protection requirements of primary storage systems. And then you probably want to keep many, many copies of this data for a long time. Deduplication and compression helps with this problem, but it’s not magic. Hence the requirement to move protection data to lower tiers of storage.

Veeam may have been a little late to market with this feature, but their implementation in 9.5 U4 is rock solid. It’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from them. With v10 the addition of the Copy mode, and the Immutability feature in Cloud Tier, should give people cause to be excited. Immutability is a really handy feature, and provides the kind of security that people should be focused on when looking to pump data into the cloud.

I still have some issues with people using protection data as an “archive” – that’s not what it is. Rather, this is a copy of protection data that’s being kept for a long time. It keeps auditors happy. And fits nicely with people’s idea of what archives are. Putting my weird ideas about archives versus protection data aside, the main reason you’d want to move or copy data to a cheaper tier of disk is to save money. And that’s not a bad thing, particularly if you’re working with enterprise protection policies that don’t necessarily make sense (e.g. keeping all backup data for seven years). I’m looking forward to v10 coming soon, and taking these features for a spin.

Veeam Vanguard Summit 2019 – (Fairly) Full Disclosure

Disclaimer: I recently attended Veeam Vanguard Summit 2019.  My flights, accommodation, and some meals were paid for by Veeam. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated by Veeam 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 notes on gifts, etc, that I received as an attendee at Veeam Vanguard Summit 2019. Apologies if it’s a bit dry but I’m just trying to make it clear what I received during this event to ensure that we’re all on the same page as far as what I’m being influenced by. I’m going to do this in chronological order, as that was the easiest way for me to take notes during the week. Whilst every attendee’s situation is different, I was paid by my employer to be at this event.

 

Saturday

My wife kindly dropped me at the airport on Saturday evening. I flew Emirates economy class from BNE – DXB – PRG courtesy of Veeam. I had a 3 hour layover at DXB. In DXB I managed to locate the Emirates Business lounge and eventually found the smoked salmon. The Emirates lounge at BNE is also super nice compared to the Qantas one (sorry Qantas!).

 

Sunday

I landed in Prague Sunday afternoon and took a taxi to my friend Max‘s house. We went for a wander to Hanga’r Bar where I had 3 beers that Max kindly paid for. We then headed in to the city centre so Al Rasheed could drop his luggage off. We then dropped by Restaurace Mincova and had some sausage, pickled cheese and a couple more beers. Al kindly paid for this. We then returned to Max’s house for dinner with his family. Max’s family also put me up for the night.

 

Monday

On the way to the hotel (the Hilton in Prague Old Town) Monday, Max and I stopped by the Macao and Wok Restaurant for lunch. I had a variety of Chinese-style dumplings and 2 beers. I then caught up with the other Aussie Vanguards (and Drew). We stopped at a place called Sklep Na Porici and I had 2 Pilsner Urquell unfiltered beers. At the hotel before dinner Steven Onofaro bought me a beer in the hotel bar.

For dinner we had a welcome reception at T-Anker. It was a rooftop bar / restaurant with stunning views of the city. The staff were a little surprised that we all wanted to eat our meals at the same time, but I eventually managed to get hold of a chicken schnitzel and mashed potatoes. I also had 4 beers. We stopped at a bar called Potrefená Husa (?) on the way back to the hotel. I had another beer that David Kawula paid for. At the hotel I had another beer, paid for by Shane Williford, before heading to bed.

 

Tuesday

I had breakfast at the hotel, consisting of eggs, bacon, chicken sausage, and a flat white. The beauty of the hotel was that it didn’t matter what coffee you ordered, it would invariably be a flat white. Matt Crape gave me a 3D-printed Vanguard thing before the sessions started, and I picked up a Vanguard pin as well.

During the break I had coffee and a chicken, ham, and cheese panini snack. Lunch was in the hotel, and I had beef, fish, pasta, roast vegetables and some water. During the afternoon break I helped myself to some coffee and an apple tatin. Adam Fisher kindly gave me some CDs from his rock and roll days. They were really cool.

For dinner a few of us went to the Restaurant White Horse in the Old Town Square. I had a few beers and the grilled spicy sausage. I then had 2 beers at the hotel before retiring for the night.

 

Wednesday

For breakfast on Wednesday I headed to the hotel buffet and had mushrooms, bacon, scrambled eggs, yoghurt, cheese, ham, and 2 flat whites. During the morning break I helped myself to a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese and some coffee. Lunch was in the hotel, and I had basmati rice, chicken, perch, smoked salmon, water, and chocolate cake.

During the afternoon break I had some coffee, a small cheese cake tart, and a tiny tandoori chicken wrap. I had two beers at the hotel bar before we caught a shuttle over to the Staropramen brewery. There I had a 5 or 6 beers and a variety of finger food, including a beef tartar, dry egg yolk, capers, onion, mayo and bread chips served in bone. From there we headed to The Dubliner bar for a few more beers.

 

Thursday

I skipped breakfast on Thursday in favour of some sleep. I had a light lunch at the hotel, consisting of some pasta, rice, and beef. When I got back to my room I found a gift glass from Staropramen Brewery courtesy of Veeam.

For dinner about 10 of us headed to a Mexican restaurant called Agave. I had 3 Coronas, a burrito with prawns, and some guacamole. The food was great, as was the company, but the service was pretty slow.

 

Friday

On Friday I had breakfast at the hotel, consisting of mushrooms, bacon, scrambled eggs, yoghurt, cheese, ham, and 2 flat whites. I then walked around Prague for a few hours, and took a car service to the airport at my expense. Big thanks to Veeam for having me over for the week, and big thanks to everyone who spent time with me at the event (and after hours) – it’s a big part of what makes this stuff fun. And I’m looking forward to sharing some of what I learnt when I’m a little less jet-lagged.

Random Short Take #24

Want some news? In a shorter format? And a little bit random? This listicle might be for you. Welcome to #24 – The Kobe Edition (not a lot of passing, but still entertaining). 8 articles too. Which one was your favourite Kobe? 8 or 24?

  • I wrote an article about how architecture matters years ago. It’s nothing to do with this one from Preston, but he makes some great points about the importance of architecture when looking to protect your public cloud workloads.
  • Commvault GO 2019 was held recently, and Chin-Fah had some thoughts on where Commvault’s at. You can read all about that here. Speaking of Commvault, Keith had some thoughts as well, and you can check them out here.
  • Still on data protection, Alastair posted this article a little while ago about using the Cohesity API for reporting.
  • Cade just posted a great article on using the right transport mode in Veeam Backup & Replication. Goes to show he’s not just a pretty face.
  • VMware vFORUM is coming up in November. I’ll be making the trip down to Sydney to help out with some VMUG stuff. You can find out more here, and register here.
  • Speaking of VMUG, Angelo put together a great 7-part series on VMUG chapter leadership and tips for running successful meetings. You can read part 7 here.
  • This is a great article on managing Rubrik users from the CLI from Frederic Lhoest.
  • Are you into Splunk? And Pure Storage? Vaughn has you covered with an overview of Splunk SmartStore on Pure Storage here.

Random Short Take #23

Want some news? In a shorter format? And a little bit random? This listicle might be for you.

  • Remember Retrospect? They were acquired by StorCentric recently. I hadn’t thought about them in some time, but they’re still around, and celebrating their 30th anniversary. Read a little more about the history of the brand here.
  • Sometimes size does matter. This article around deduplication and block / segment size from Preston was particularly enlightening.
  • This article from Russ had some great insights into why it’s not wise to entirely rule out doing things the way service providers do just because you’re working in enterprise. I’ve had experience in both SPs and enterprise and I agree that there are things that can be learnt on both sides.
  • This is a great article from Chris Evans about the difficulties associated with managing legacy backup infrastructure.
  • The Pure Storage VM Analytics Collector is now available as an OVA.
  • If you’re thinking of updating your Mac’s operating environment, this is a fairly comprehensive review of what macOS Catalina has to offer, along with some caveats.
  • Anthony has been doing a bunch of cool stuff with Terraform recently, including using variable maps to deploy vSphere VMs. You can read more about that here.
  • Speaking of people who work at Veeam, Hal has put together a great article on orchestrating Veeam recovery activities to Azure.
  • Finally, the Brisbane VMUG meeting originally planned for Tuesday 8th has been moved to the 15th. Details here.

Backblaze Has A (Pod) Birthday, Does Some Cool Stuff With B2

Backblaze has been on my mind a lot lately. And not just because of their recent expansion into Europe. The Storage Pod recently turned ten years old, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to chat with Yev Pusin and Andy Klein about that news and some of the stuff they’re doing with B2, Tiger Technology, and Veeam.

 

10 Years Is A Long Time

The Backblaze Storage Pod (currently version 6) recently turned 10 years old. That’s a long time for something to be around (and successful) in a market like cloud storage. I asked to Yev and Andy about where they saw the pod heading, and whether they thought there was room for Flash in the picture. Andy pointed out that, with around 900PB under management, Flash still didn’t look like the most economical medium for this kind of storage task. That said, they have seen the main HDD manufacturers starting to hit a wall in terms of the capacity per drive that they can deliver. Nonetheless, the challenge isn’t just performance, it’s also the fact that people are needing more and more capacity to store their stuff. And it doesn’t look like they can produce enough Flash to cope with that increase in requirements at this stage.

Version 7.0

We spoke briefly about what Pod 7.0 would look like, and it’s going to be a “little bit faster”, with the following enhancements planned:

  • Updating the motherboard
  • Upgrade the CPU and consider using an AMD CPU
  • Updating the power supply units, perhaps moving to one unit
  • Upgrading from 10Gbase-T to 10GbE SFP+ optical networking
  • Upgrading the SATA cards
  • Modifying the tool-less lid design

They’re looking to roll this out in 2020 some time.

 

Tiger Style?

So what’s all this about Veeam, Tiger Bridge, and Backblaze B2? Historically, if you’ve been using Veeam from the cheap seats, it’s been difficult to effectively leverage object storage to use as a repository for longer term data storage. Backblaze and Tiger Technology have gotten together to develop an integration that allows you to use B2 storage to copy your Veeam protection data to the Backblaze cloud. There’s a nice overview of the solution that you can read here, and you can read some more comprehensive instructions here.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

I keep banging on about it, but ten years feels like a long time to be hanging around in tech. I haven’t managed to stay with one employer longer than 7 years (maybe I’m flighty?). Along with the durability of the solution, the fact that Backblaze made the design open source, and inspired a bunch of companies to do something similar, is a great story. It’s stuff like this that I find inspiring. It’s not always about selling black boxes to people. Sometimes it’s good to be a little transparent about what you’re doing, and relying on a great product, competitive pricing, and strong support to keep customers happy. Backblaze have certainly done that on the consumer side of things, and the team assures me that they’re experiencing success with the B2 offering and their business-oriented data protection solution as well.

The Veeam integration is an interesting one. While B2 is an object storage play, it’s not S3-compliant, so they can’t easily leverage a lot of the built-in options delivered by the bigger data protection vendors. What you will see, though, is that they’re super responsive when it comes to making integrations available across things like NAS devices, and stuff like this. If I get some time in the next month, I’ll look at setting this up in the lab and running through the process.

I’m not going to wax lyrical about how Backblaze is democratising data access for everyone, as they’re in business to make money. But they’re certainly delivering a range of products that is enabling a variety of customers to make good use of technology that has potentially been unavailable (in a simple to consume format) previously. And that’s a great thing. I glossed over the news when it was announced last year, but the “Rebel Alliance” formed between Backblaze, Packet and ServerCentral is pretty interesting, particularly if you’re looking for a more cost-effective solution for compute and object storage that isn’t reliant on hyperscalers. I’m looking forward to hearing about what Backblaze come up with in the future, and I recommend checking them out if you haven’t previously. You can read Ken‘s take over at Gestalt IT here.

Random Short Take #22

Oh look, another semi-regular listicle of random news items that might be of some interest.

  • I was at Pure Storage’s //Accelerate conference last week, and heard a lot of interesting news. This piece from Chris M. Evans on FlashArray//C was particularly insightful.
  • Storage Field Day 18 was a little while ago, but that doesn’t mean that the things that were presented there are no longer of interest. Stephen Foskett wrote a great piece on IBM’s approach to data protection with Spectrum Protect Plus that’s worth read.
  • Speaking of data protection, it’s not just for big computers. Preston wrote a great article on the iOS recovery process that you can read here. As someone who had to recently recover my phone, I agree entirely with the idea that re-downloading apps from the app store is not a recovery process.
  • NetApp were recently named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Primary Storage. Say what you will about the MQ, a lot of folks are still reading this report and using it to help drive their decision-making activities. You can grab a copy of the report from NetApp here. Speaking of NetApp, I’m happy to announce that I’m now a member of the NetApp A-Team. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more with NetApp in terms of both my day job and the blog.
  • Tom has been on a roll lately, and this article on IT hero culture, and this one on celebrity keynote speakers, both made for great reading.
  • VMworld US was a little while ago, but Anthony‘s wrap-up post had some great content, particularly if you’re working a lot with Veeam.
  • WekaIO have just announced some work their doing Aiden Lab at the Baylor College of Medicine that looks pretty cool.
  • Speaking of analyst firms, this article from Justin over at Forbes brought up some good points about these reports and how some of them are delivered.

Random Short Take #20

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 20 – feels like it’s becoming a thing.

  • Scale Computing seems to be having a fair bit of success with their VDI solutions. Here’s a press release about what they did with Harlingen WaterWorks System.
  • I don’t read Corey Quinn’s articles enough, but I am glad I read this one. Regardless of what you think about the enforceability of non-compete agreements (and regardless of where you’re employed), these things have no place in the modern workforce.
  • If you’re getting along to VMworld US this year, I imagine there’s plenty in your schedule already. If you have the time – I recommend getting around to seeing what Cody and Pure Storage are up to. I find Cody to be a great presenter, and Pure have been doing some neat stuff lately.
  • Speaking of VMworld, this article from Tom about packing the little things for conferences in preparation for any eventuality was useful. And if you’re heading to VMworld, be sure to swing past the VMUG booth. There’s a bunch of VMUG stuff happening at VMworld – you can read more about that here.
  • I promise this is pretty much the last bit of news I’ll share regarding VMworld. Anthony from Veeam put up a post about their competition to win a pass to VMworld. If you’re on the fence about going, check it out now (as the competition closes on the 19th August).
  • It wouldn’t be a random short take without some mention of data protection. This article about tiering protection data from George Crump was bang on the money.
  • Backblaze published their quarterly roundup of hard drive stats – you can read more here.
  • This article from Paul on freelancing and side gigs was comprehensive and enlightening. If you’re thinking of taking on some extra work in the hopes of making it your full-time job, or just wanting to earn a little more pin money, it’s worthwhile reading this post.

Random Short Take #16

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 16 – please enjoy these semi-irregular updates.

  • Scale Computing has been doing a bit in the healthcare sector lately – you can read news about that here.
  • This was a nice roundup of the news from Apple’s recent WWDC from Six Colors. Hat tip to Stephen Foskett for the link. Speaking of WWDC news, you may have been wondering what happened to all of your purchased content with the imminent demise of iTunes on macOS. It’s still a little fuzzy, but this article attempts to shed some light on things. Spoiler: you should be okay (for the moment).
  • There’s a great post on the Dropbox Tech Blog from James Cowling discussing the mission versus the system.
  • The more things change, the more they remain the same. For years I had a Windows PC running Media Center and recording TV. I used IceTV as the XMLTV-based program guide provider. I then started to mess about with some HDHomeRun devices and the PC died and I went back to a traditional DVR arrangement. Plex now has DVR capabilities and it has been doing a reasonable job with guide data (and recording in general), but they’ve decided it’s all a bit too hard to curate guides and want users (at least in Australia) to use XMLTV-based guides instead. So I’m back to using IceTV with Plex. They’re offering a free trial at the moment for Plex users, and setup instructions are here. No, I don’t get paid if you click on the links.
  • Speaking of axe-throwing, the Cohesity team in Queensland is organising a social event for Friday 21st June from 2 – 4 pm at Maniax Axe Throwing in Newstead. You can get in contact with Casey if you’d like to register.
  • VeeamON Forum Australia is coming up soon. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sydney on July 24th and should be a great event. You can find out more information and register for it here. The Vanguards are also planning something cool, so hopefully we’ll see you there.
  • Speaking of Veeam, Anthony Spiteri recently published his longest title in the Virtualization is Life! catalogue – Orchestration Of NSX By Terraform For Cloud Connect Replication With vCloud Director. It’s a great article, and worth checking out.
  • There’s a lot of talk and slideware devoted to digital transformation, and a lot of it is rubbish. But I found this article from Chin-Fah to be particularly insightful.