BACKUP IS DEAD: Introducing the Data Protection Lifecycle, a new paradigm for data protection and recovery WHITE PAPER

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1 BACKUP IS DEAD: Introducing the Data Protection Lifecycle, a new paradigm for data protection and recovery Despite decades of research and development into backup and data protection, enterprise customers are generally unsatisfied with the status quo when it comes to data protection and recovery processes. Backup is one of the most common operations in the data center, and one increasingly being viewed as a primary target for replacement. Rather than simply moving from one backup vendor to another, enterprise customers are seeking a new paradigm for data protection and recovery, one that provides a more holistic view of all their applications and systems, is verifiably effective, cost effective and resilient by design to various calamities which might strike the enterprise. According to research done by Gartner: By 2013, at least 20% of organizations will have changed their primary backup vendor due to frustration over cost, complexity and/or capability, up from the typical single-digit percentage shifts today. By 2013, more than 50% of midsize organizations and more than 75% of large enterprises will implement tiered recovery architectures. Best Practices for Addressing the Broken State of Backup, 27 August 2010 Coupled with the awareness of these issues is an appreciation for just how vital data is to the enterprise. In the information economy, an organization s intellectual property is its data, the loss of which would have a catastrophic effect on the organization. Data protection comprises two key objectives: protection and recovery, and service restoration. Consolidation, cost containment, employee mobility and exponential data growth are all creating the perfect storm for IT administrators. The Broken State of Enterprise Backup The largest single contributor to dissatisfaction with enterprise backup is the massive increase in the data to be protected. Estimated by industry analysts at around 45% growth per annum, data is growing so rapidly that many IT leaders are facing an unsustainable situation. Richer digital media, increased collaboration and connectivity, increasing use of big data by marketers, versioning, replication and the monolithic nature of application design contribute to the rising tide of enterprise data growth. Too much data means fewer and poorer backups, which creates risk to the organization the risk of downtime, lost productivity, lost data, and financial loss. Expectations from business leaders for service levels on recovery times and the volume of single occurrence data loss have increased to the point where near zero system downtime is a commonly accepted goal. The very idea of the backup window has been obsoleted by the 24x7 nature of business. An outdated paradigm for backup and recovery where systems are offline once a week for a full backup, offline daily for incremental backups, and where data is copied to a long term storage medium, has become nearly impossible to accomplish successfully. While this approach has worked in the past, the ever growing data volume, number of systems and demands on SLA s for recovery has rendered this approach incompatible with current business goals. nscaled Inc. 1

2 Turning from protection and recovery to service restoration, restoration of systems due to service outages also focuses attention on the efficacy of the backup processes. Restoration is only as fast and reliable as the initial protection, and traditional backup is unable to meet the service goals of near-instant restoration and zero data loss. While data loss and system outage are unacceptable, so too are the escalating costs of managing all this data. While a company s IT systems can be an effective differentiator and a strategic investment, data protection and recovery is not viewed as such. This has led to a growing realization among IT leaders that scarce resources (primarily people) would be better off focused on strategic IT initiatives that differentiate the organization from its competitors, rather than being consumed with mundane tasks such as backup and recovery. The evolving nature of applications continues to introduce complexity into the IT function with many software vendors advocating or devising their own proprietary methods for recovery. While any one of these may have merit in its own right, the lack of a comprehensive approach leaves the IT team with a training and personnel issue which ultimately adds to cost and complexity. What s called for is a standard way of backing up and recovering all services. The new realities of virtualization and cloud computing Despite all this bad news, there are some positive trends that support the revitalization of how IT leaders think about data protection and recovery. The virtualization of servers and workloads (operating system, data and application) has broken the ties between services and physical infrastructure. Through virtualization and other technologies, workloads are able to migrate readily between machines within a data center, and between data centers. This has made the specific hardware less important when it comes to service restoration. While the process of restoring multiple dependent systems to service in different geographic locations is not trivial, with careful system design and preparation, it is achievable. Factors lowering the overall costs of what would in the past be considered highly sophisticated disaster planning include the transfer of software licenses through virtual server migration in an off state, and lower consumption of compute resources for the same reason. Shared physical infrastructure delivered by cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) vendors offers by far the most significant incremental improvement in cost reduction. In a world where resources can be tapped on demand and shared between one organization and another in times of need the so-called elasticity of cloud computing with virtual workloads securely migrating between one location and another, there is no longer any requirement for individual IT teams to procure and manage physical hardware in remote geographic locations. Requirements for a new paradigm The broken state of traditional backup and the game changing introduction of cloud infrastructure call for a complete revision of how IT leaders protect and restore systems and data. Rather than focus on how to improve backup, or how to minimize any single pain point within the existing paradigm, savvy IT leaders should look to harness the power of virtualization and the cloud to increase service levels for all systems, simplify IT operations, eliminate repetitive, non-strategic activities, and put their organization onto a predictable and sustainable (service based) cost curve. Moreover, backup and protection of data needs to be an intrinsic and ongoing part of the process. Protecting data from deletion or corruption should be as fundamental to the process as its creation. There should be no cause for system downtime during backup procedures, and continuous incremental backups should eliminate this requirement entirely. The protection process should be automated, with no requirement for manual intervention, switching of media or offsite physical relocation. Intelligent systems design should facilitate regular, non-disruptive testing of recovery facilities and processes with predictable outcomes that business leaders can rely upon. Shared physical resources in different geographic locations should be used for on-demand utility infrastructure, eliminating waste and overprovisioning. Mobility of workloads should be engineered into the system to reduce localized threats such as flood and fire. Comprehensive local recovery should provide for immediate system restoration after localized system errors, with minimal disruption to users. nscaled Inc. 2

3 With a comprehensive data protection paradigm, there is no longer a requirement for backup as a point product or isolated process. Backup and the protection of data becomes a by-product of the overall workload protection process and occurs continuously. By delivering more effective and incremental backup, the system also delivers more rapid recovery (shorter RTO) with shorter windows of potential data loss (shorter RPO). Automation introduces the potential for systematic reporting, alerting and analytics while eliminating human errors and the need for ongoing training. Design requirements include: Backup is a by-product of a continual process of protection and replication No manual processes Automated monitoring and policy enforcement Centralized management interface showing holistic view of all systems Short recovery point objectives for minimal potential data loss (minutes) Local recovery for service continuity (data and systems) Remote recovery for catastrophic failures Ability to test regularly without impacting production systems Hardware independent Data lifecycle aware for aging recovery points (policy based) Security must be designed into the system Data Protection Lifecycle The data protection lifecycle follows the life of a workload recovery point as it passes through protection and recovery facilities. The lifecycle is policy based, providing for flexibility in implementation and cost management across different systems. As data ages, the recovery requirements change and therefore the underlying capability of the system changes accordingly. Production Systems (Present time) Local Continuity (15 minute) Remote DR (30 minute) Archive Retention (1 week-10 years) Production systems are protected in real-time with snapshot recovery points across operating system, data and applications. Productions systems may be active in any location, on any hardware platform and may be physical or virtual. Snapshots are typically set for 15 minutes or less. Local Continuity facility receives continuous updates of data as its created by production systems. Local recovery includes data and whole systems in the same physical location as production but from or to dissimilar hardware and separate physical resources. Remote recovery facilities utilize shared physical resources across organizations for efficiency and potential to scale. Recovery at this tier is typically oriented around whole data center failure and considerations of networking and dependence on other systems require planning, certification and regular testing. Archive facilities make use of de-duplication technology and storage optimized for capacity over performance for cost containment. Snapshots move through each stage in the process according to centralized management policies (which may differ across different systems). Note that the process of data protection is always linear according to the age of the recovery points, but is not constrained to any specific physical location and may be different for different systems and services. Mobility of workloads allows for the migration of systems according to their specific requirements. For example, it may make sense to temporarily provision systems within shared cloud data centers while they nscaled Inc. 3

4 are being tested or engineered and then move them back to production resources. The combination of workload mobility and utility infrastructure has significant potential for increased productivity, reduced risk and lower cost. Technical Considerations The use of technology across data centers, and between organization and cloud infrastructure providers, needs to be compatible to facilitate ease of migrating workloads successfully. Since all workloads are virtualized, the underlying hardware is less important than the virtualization platform. Application performance needs to be tested to ensure that high demand applications are provided with sufficient resources in the recovery facilities (local and remote). The ability to test individual systems and the coordinated recovery of multiple dependent systems needs to be engineered into the system. Specifically, networking translations, service registration (Active Directory), connectivity (VPN or thin client) as well as network segregation of active systems in test mode need careful consideration. All data centers should be provisioned as inside the firewall. Remote cloud data centers need to be at least as secure as the primary facilities. Cloud vendor data center design needs to be multi-tenant and verifiably secure. The specific snapshot technology selected is less important than the comprehensive system design and facilities. Continuous data protection software (like other forms of backup) is mature and well implemented. For efficiency and cost containment it is important that all systems be protected across the data center. Conclusion Business drivers for a revision of the current approaches to backup and recovery could not be clearer. For many IT teams the status quo has become unsustainable. For others the ability to make immediate improvements in service and recovery levels, combined with the burgeoning costs of backup, make a compelling case for change. The solution is not a choice between vendors or software solutions, but rather a complete change in the paradigm of how backup and recovery should be engineered and implemented. The protection and recovery of data and systems should be considered as two parts to the same business problem. Protection of data needs to be engineered into data creation processes such that all data is always and continually protected. There is no time available for backup windows, or planned system downtime in the modern data center. Business users expect systems to just work including through failover events like power outages. For IT teams to deliver against these increasingly stringent SLAs, a systematic approach to the entire data center is required. The twin drivers of virtualization and multi-tenant cloud computing with utility capacity on demand provide unprecedented opportunity for IT teams to eliminate wasteful overprovisioning and get data protection costs under control. Data protection as a service, while complex to deliver, is not a useful differentiator between organizations. As such it should be considered beyond the mandate of the internal IT team who should select an appropriate vendor and refocus on more specific requirements of their organizations. nscaled Inc. 4

5 About nscaled nscaled provides hybrid cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for the enterprise. We serve customers with highly confidential data and zero tolerance for system downtime or data loss. Our unique Hybrid Cloud architecture gives customers maximum flexibility and dependability; our services agreement is the strongest, most customer-centric available; and our 24x7 customer support is unmatched in expertise and responsiveness. nscaled offers customers multiple cloud solutions, including primary application hosting, disaster recovery, backup, WAN acceleration and QA-development. All services take advantage of our global network of Remote Cloud data centers plus our on-premises Local Cloud appliance, all managed as one secure, seamless infrastructure. The company is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in London. For more information, please visit or write to Revision date: June 2011 nscaled Inc. 5

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