Practical Cloud Backup and DR

Welcome to my first substantive blog entry. There’s a link to a complete video demonstration below, but first here’s an explanation…

Early in 2016, my management asked me to check out AltaVault. I’d never touched one of these things at all, and I have to say this is a seriously cool product.It’s so good, I would consider resigning from NetApp and becoming a customer again. More on that later. First, here’s my summary of what the product does.

What does it do?

  1. It’s designed for backup workloads
  2. It looks like a CIFS or NFS filesystem
  3. Anything you put on that filesystem gets deduplicated and compressed

Sound familiar? There are some other storage systems that deduplicate and compress data. The key difference is this:

  1. The deduplicated and compressed chunks are then encrypted and stored both locally and in a Cloud provider

I’m sure a lot of products have Cloud integration capabilities, but AVA was designed for this purpose. Cloud support isn’t a bolt-on afterthought.

Appliances and Virtual Appliances.

The AVA can be an appliance with built-in storage, and it can also be deployed as an VM on ESX, KVM, or Hyper-V. It also runs in AWS, since after all, it’s just x86 code.. This opens up some possibilities for Cloud DR.

Backup/Recovery

In a basic sense, AVA’s Cloud capability is similar to having a set of automatically created offsite tapes. In the normal course of business, backup and restore operations flow to and from the AVA system. You can forget about the Cloud aspect of it. In the event your primary site is destroyed, you have a copy safely offsite that you can use for recovery. It’s also encrypted, so everything is secure in the hands of whatever Cloud provider you select.

Most testing was with Oracle RMAN, but you can use most any backup product with AVA. No need to replace anything; you just store the data on the AVA filesystems and let it work it’s magic.

AVA and DR

The really interesting aspect of AVA is in the DR possibilities. To be fair, the recovery times aren’t going to match what you can do with actual storage array mirroring; think about all the use cases out there where the only need is to ensure a copy of the data is safely offsite, and there is no requirement for two-minute disaster recovery.

AVA makes that really, really easy. You deploy a virtual AVA into the existing infrastructure, anything that needs to be protected gets backed up to the filesystem, and you’re protected.

Cloud DR

If you have a small enterprise and you lose the primary site, you can bring an AVA online within AWS and create your DR environment wholly within AWS as well. It’s obviously not going to have the same reliability and performance as a full physical DR site, but that’s an expensive option for a lot of companies.

I think there’s a lot of potential there. I think I could do something similar with AVA and DR as a service. There are a lot of companies out there that need a basic data protection and DR strategy. If someone has some VC to lend me, I’ll quit my job, we start our own company, and we could build a large Backup-as-a-Service operation based on AVA. We deliver an appropriate AVA physical or virtual appliance to the customer and charge them a per-GB rate for backup storage on top of a monthly base fee for the appliance they needed. It would also be easy to package up this service for various NetApp partners to resell as well. No need to do it all ourselves. Anybody got a couple million dollars?

Demo

Here’s a link to a video demo:

It’s about 25% the value proposition for AltaVault and yes, I’m wearing my Marketing Hat for that portion. The bulk of it is a start-to-finish demo of installation and configuring an AVA, running repeated backups of a very large Oracle database with a high change rate, then reviewing the results. It’s intended to be instructional and practical.

I have an automated DR demo on the way…

 

 

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