Cloud DR Services Are Real

Stephanie Balaouras

There is a lot of hype surrounding cloud and I'm usually not one to join the hype but in the case of cloud-based backup and disaster recovery services (I'm trying to use the IT service continuity but it hasn't caught on yet), these service are available today and they address major pain points in IT operations and organizations of all sizes can leverage these services, not just small and medium businesses.

Storage-as-a-Service is relatively new. Today the main value proposition is as a cloud target for on-premise deployments of backup and archiving software. If you have a need to retain data for extended periods of time (1 year plus in most cases) tape is still the more cost effective option given it's low capital acquisition cost and removability. If you have long term data retention needs and you want to eliminate tape, that's where a cloud storage target comes in. Electronically vault that data to a storage-as-service provider who can store that data at cents per GB. You just can't beat the economies of scale these providers are able to achieve.

If you're a small business and you don't have the staff to implement and manage a backup solution or if you're an enterprise and you're looking for a PC backup or a remote office backup solution, I think it's worthwhile to compare the three year total cost of ownership of an on-premise solution versus backup-as-a-service.

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Deduplication Market Undergoes Rapid Changes

Stephanie Balaouras In May, I blogged about NetApp's announced acquisition of deduplication pionneer, Data Domain. The announcement triggered an unsolicted counter-offer from EMC, followed by another counter from NetApp. But after a month of offers, counter-offers and regulatory reviews, EMC ultimately outbid NetApp with an all cash offer of $2.1 billion. I believe that Data Domain would have been a better fit in the current NetApp portfolio; it would have been easier for NetApp to reposition its current VTL as a better fit for large enterprises that still planned to leverage tape. It's also said that more than half of Data Domain's current employees are former NetApp employees so there would have been a clear cultural fit as well.

 

For $2.1 billion, EMC gets Data Domain's more than 3000 customers and 8000 installs but it also gets a product that in my opinion, overlaps with its current Quantum-based disk libraries, the DL1500 and DL3000. In Forrester inquiries and current consulting engagements, Data Domain is regularly up against the EMC DL1500 and DL3000. EMC will need to quickly explain to customers how it plans to position its new Data Domain offerings with its current DL family, both the Quantum- and Falconstor-based DLs as well as its broader data protection portoflio that includes Networker and Avamar - which also offer deduplication.

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Free Webinar Assessing And Transforming IT Operations In 2010

Stephanie Balaouras

2009 was the year we focused on virtualization and consolidation of IT infrastructure to drive down costs. Virtualization and consolidation will remain top initiatives in the second half of 2009 as IT organizations strive to save more by expanding virtualization and driving up the ratio of virtual machine to physical server. But what’s next? For one, virtualization is changing IT management, processes, and roles but most organizations have yet to adapt. Second, a lot of initiatives were put on hold in 2009 to focus on projects that had an immediate return on investment. As a result, many organizations put off infrastructure upgrades, postponed ITIL process adoption, and stepped back from process automation. But in order to achieve the next level of IT operational efficiency we’ll need to reprioritize these initiatives. And by doing so, we’ll be in a better position to selectively leverage web, cloud, and outsourcing services to eliminate some costs completely.

If you want to learn more about these topics, please join my complimentary Webinar, "Transforming IT Infrastructure And Operations in 2010" on July 16th at 11AM EST. You can register for the session by visiting: www.forrester.com/ioassessmentwebinar.

By Stephanie Balaouras

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How Do We Measure High Availability?

Stephanie Balaouras

Over the past 2 months, I've seen an increase in the number of end user inquiries regarding high availability and almost more importantly, how to measure high availability (HA). HA means something different depending on whom you're talking with so it's worth a quick definition. I define HA as:

Focused on the technology and processes to prevent application/service outages at the primary site or in a specific IT system domain.

 

This is in contrast to disaster recovery or IT service continuity (ITSC) which is about preventing or responding to outages of the entire site.

Why so many inquiries about HA recently? I believe that due to our increasing reliance on IT as well as the 24X7 operating environment that companies of all sizes and industries are becoming more and more sensitive to application and system downtime. The interest in measurement is driven by the need to continuously improve upon IT services and justify IT investments to senior management, especially now.

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NetApp Shakes Up The Backup Marker With The Acquisition Of Deduplication Pioneer Data Domain

Stephanie Despite the availability of multiple backup appliances supporting deduplication, Data Domain has continued to win customers at a steady pace. As of March 2009, the company had more than 2,900 customers and recruited hundreds of value added resellers. Its proven deduplication technology, integrated replication, and aggressive campaign to eliminate tape garnered it a tremendous amount of mind share and put it on most customers’ short lists. So it comes as no surprise that they were acquired by a major storage vendor.

That it was acquired by NetApp does come as a bit of surprise. NetApp does have its own successful VTL that supports deduplication. But then again, NetApp didn’t introduced deduplication in its VTL until the Fall of 2008 (the last of the major storage vendors to do so) and it typically sells its VTL into its own customer base. With Data Domain, NetApp now owns one of the toughest competitors in the backup appliance market and it gives the company a system that it (and the hundreds of NetApp channel partners around the globe) can sell into non-NetApp environments.

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Swine Flu? What It Means For IT Professionals

Stephanie The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 64 cases of swine flu in the United States and as other countries including Canada (6), New Zealand (3), the United Kingdom (2), Israel (2), Spain (2), and now Germany have confirmed cases, the World Health Organization has raised the worldwide pandemic threat level to Phase 4. This means health officials have confirmed that the disease can spread person-to-person and has the potential to cause "community-level" outbreaks. The CDC recommends avoiding travel to Mexico and if you get sick, to stay home from work. Large numbers of employees out sick will impact the business (revenue) and cost your company a lot of money in productivity loss (you still pay employees their salary when they're out).

Stopping the spread of the disease and treating those infected is obviously a health issue, but the swine flu outbreak does have implications for IT professionals in both the short term and the long term. First, if you haven't done so already, you need find a copy of the bird flu business continuity plan (BCP) that your company developed in 2006 and call a walk through exercise immediately. And if your responsibility is IT disaster recovery and not necessarily business continuity, don't wait around for someone else to dust of the plan and call the exercise - this is too important to wait. Call your CIO, CISO, COO, and CEO and tell them it needs to be done now. There's a good chance that the plan is out of date and that it hasn't been exercised in a long time.

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Deduplication Will Exist Everywhere

Stephaniebalaouras Most customers were just starting to get their arms around all the different deduplication approaches available in disk appliances and VTLs from vendors when backup software vendors and even non-storage related vendors began announcing deduplication capabilities.

We all know the appliance and VTL vendors offering dedupe, including COPAN Systems, Data Domain, EMC, Exagrid, FalconStor, HP, IBM (Diligent), NEC, NetApp, Quantum, Sepaton, Sun StorageTek, and others.

And there were existing backup software vendors, including EMC Avamar, Symantec NetBackup PureDisk, and many online backup software vendors, like Asigra. Now add CommVault Simpana 8.0 and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) V6.

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The Cloud, Not Deduplication Alone, Will Lead To The Demise Of Tape

Stephaniebalaouras Friday, Iron Mountain and Microsoft announced a new partnership. Customers of Microsoft's backup offering, Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 service pack 1, can electronically vault redundant copies of their data to Iron Mountain's CloudRecovery service. This is welcomed news for DPM customers. Customers will continue to backup locally to disk for instant restore but rather than vault data to tape and physically transport tape to an offsite storage service provider, customers will vault data over the Internet to Iron Mountain. For disaster recovery purposes and long-term retention services, you need this redundant copy of your data offsite. By eliminating the physical tape transport you eliminate the risk of lost or stolen tapes or the need to deploy some kind of tape encryption solution. Microsoft DPM hasn't taken the backup world by storm since its introduction in 2005, but each subsequent release has added critical features and application support. Additionally, because it is often bundled in with Microsoft System Center, I expect adoption will increase among small and medium businesses (SMBs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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The Numerous Meanings Of "Data Protection"

Stephanie Balaouras

In my coverage of business continuity and disaster recovery, I talk to both IT infrastructure and operations professionals as well as IT security professionals and I've found that the term "data protection" means something different to each. This comes as no surprise and I think for a long time it didn't really matter because IT operations and security professionals operated in independent silos. But as silos break down and "data protection" is a shared responsibility across the organization, it's important to be specific and to understand who is responsible for what.

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New Options For Business Continuity Management Software

Stephanie Balaouras

With SunGard's acquisition of Strohl Systems, it would seem that the options for business continuity management software have dwindled. While SunGard will continue to support both Paragon and LDRPS, LDRPS will be its go forward platform. This leaves the main challengers, COOP Systems, eBRP, and OfficeShadow and lesser known vendors such as Business Protection Systems International (BPSI), CPACS, KingsBridge (formerly Binomial), and a few others. COOP Systems has gained a lot of momentum in recent months, in September, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) selected COOP Systems as its strategic partner for BCM software.

But there are new options emerging from governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendors. For example, Archer Technologies has added a business continuity management module to its GRC SmartSuite Framework. I recently saw a demo of the offering and I found it to be intuitive and comprehensive. It's also closely aligned with the British Standard for Business Continuity Management, BS 25999. I also recently met with MetricStream, they have also added a BCM module to their GRC platform. Provided that you've already purchased the core GRC platform from one of these vendors, buying the BCM module is significantly less expensive that buying or subscribing to a tier 1 stand-alone BCM offering. Tier 1 offerings start at US$100K and average sales prices can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The add-on modules to these GRC platforms will start between $30K-$50K.

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