TechCrunchIT reported today that a Rackspace data center went down for several hours during the evening due to a power grid failure. Because Rackspace is a managed service provider (MSP), the downtime affected several businesses hosted in the data center.
Bottom line for IT Infrastructure and Operations professionals? Your next purchase of a backup-to-disk appliance or backup software will have integrated deduplication functionality, given the slew of announcements from all the major storage players. It’s no longer just pioneering vendors Data Domain and Diligent beating the deduplication drum — it’s all the major storage vendors.
In addition, based on the direction of NetApp, you need to start thinking about how the rest of your storage environment would benefit from integrated deduplication functionality like your VMware environment (server and desktop) or end-user home directories.
NetApp plans to introduce integrated deduplication technology in its NearStore VTL some time this year. In the meantime, the company is promoting the availability of deduplication on its production FAS storage systems and touting the huge benefits of deduplication in VMware environments.
On May 12th, 2008 VMware announced that nine storage replication vendors have tested and certified their technology with VMware’s long awaited Site Recovery Manager (SRM) offering. SRM is an important step forward in DR (DR) preparedness because it automates the process of restarting virtual machines (VM) at an alternate data center. Of course, your data and your VM configuration files must be present at the alternate site, hence the necessary integration with replication vendors. SRM not only automates the restart of VMs at an alternate data center, it can automate other aspects of DR. For example, it can shutdown other VMs before it recovers others. You can also integrate scripts for other tasks and insert checkpoints where a manual procedure is required. This is useful if you are using the redundant infrastructure at the alternate data center for other workloads such as application development and testing (a very common scenario). When you recover an application to an alternate site, especially if your redundant infrastructure supports other workloads, you have to think about how you will repurpose between secondary and production workloads. You also have to think about the entire ecosystem, such as network and storage settings, not just simply recovering a VM.
Essentially, VMware wants you to replace manual DR runbook with the automated recovery plans in SRM. It might not completely replace your DR runbook but it can automate enough of it. So much so that DR service providers such as SunGard are productizing new service offerings based on SRM.
On April 18th, IBM announced its intent to acquire virtual tape library (VTL) and deduplication vendor Diligent Technologies. For IBM, Diligent is a good fit. The company offers both mainframe and open systems virtual tape libraries and they are a pioneer of deduplication. However, IBM already offers a market leading mainframe VTL based on its own intellectual property and an open systems VTL based on FalconStor technology — although the open systems VTL has very limited adoption — so there is also a lot of overlap. Because Diligent is a software solution, IBM can quickly integrate Diligent with any of its storage systems and bring new VTLs to market relatively quickly. It’s very likely that IBM will in fact pursue this route so it can bring an inline deduplicating VTL to market as quickly as possible.
On April 10, 2008, IBM announced its intent to acquire FilesX, a small startup that offers server-based replication and continuous data protection technology. The acquisition will become part of the Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) family of products.
This acquisition will help IBM Tivoli fill a gap in their current portfolio of offerings for data protection. The vendor currently offers Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), which is one of the leading enterprise-class backup software applications, and Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files, a product mostly used to protect PCs. In addition to traditional backup to tape or disk, TSM can also manage Microsoft Virtual Snapshots (VSS) and its own IBM storage-based snapshot technology in support of instant restore or snapshot assisted backup. But the company didn’t really have an offering for customers who wanted something that was better than backup but not as expensive as storage-based replication, this is where FilesX comes in. With FilesX, IBM can now address the recovery requirements of small enterprises that can’t afford storage-based replication. They can also meet the recovery requirements of large enterprises that want to protect more servers within their company with a more affordable replication offering as well as servers at the remote office.
It’s official, the future of information management and infrastructure is software as a service (SaaS). Today, Dell announced its intent to acquire the powerhouse in email continuity and archiving, MessageOne. This acquisition will give Dell the cornerstone that it needs to build out its own suite of SaaS offerings. Dell clearly didn’t want to be left out of race as it watched Iron Mountain successfully building out its SaaS offerings and watched its competitors and partners complete significant acquisitions in the market including Seagate Services’ acquisition of Evault, EMC’s acquisition of Mozy and IBM’s recent acquisition of Arsenal Digital Solutions. Then there’s Symantec who is building out its Symantec Protection Network.
On December 6th, 2007 IBM announced its acquisition of Arsenal Digital Solutions, a major player in the online backup service provider market. Arsenal provides online backup services to customers directly but other service providers (particularly telecommunication providers) rebrand and resell Arsenal's online backup services as their own. So the company is both provider and enabler. Arsenal is profitable, cash flow positive and has not required funding since 2002. It has approximately 3400 customers. IBM did not disclose the value of the acquisition.
It is important to note that the acquisition was made by IBM Global Services (IGS), not IBM Tivoli or IBM System and Technology. This acquisition is not about filling in a product gap (although IBM is lagging in data protection offerings that support deduplication), it's about ensuring a foothold in a critical market. In fact, the engine of Arsenal's service is EMC Avamar - what Arsenal provides is a software as a service (SaasS) wrapper around Avamar, everything you need for SaaS such as multi-tenancy, billing, reporting etc. IGS is clearly indifferent to the technology; they care about a dependable, scaleable online backup service
Backup is a struggle for both enterprises and small and medium businesses. It’s a complex ecosystem of backup software, networks, servers, disk arrays, and tape systems. Most companies report they are having difficulty completing backups in the time available and when backups fail or complete with errors, it’s often very difficult to discover the root cause. Couple those troubles with the fact that the amount of data that you need backed up is growing conservatively at 30% to 50% per year. Aside from these challenges, most companies are also interested in keeping backups longer for version history and companies are interested in the ability to perform much faster restores if they could.
Given the headaches associated with backup, many small and medium business and even some enterprises are choosing to outsource their backups all together to a service provider. There are already numerous players in the marketplace from Evault (which is resold by a number of different service providers) to Iron Mountain, to your telecommunication provider, and to emerging entrants such as Berkeley Data Systems and its Mozy service offering. This opportunity is so huge that even Symantec (which acquired Veritas) launched a beta of its own online backup service called the Symantec Protection Network. EMC’s acquisition of Berkeley Data Systems is just further proof that the online backup market is a huge opportunity.