Backup and Recovery Across Heterogeneous Environments

Arthur Cole

Backup and recovery systems have never been all that easy to deal with. Not only are they expensive to build and maintain, but they need to accommodate increasingly diverse data center infrastructure that has become both more virtual and more heterogeneous in nature.

B&R, in fact, has a tendency to follow the divergent paths of the data center at large — as new systems are deployed in a not altogether coordinated fashion, their associated recovery components end up creating a hodgepodge of platforms that can be unwieldy, at best, in the frantic rush to get services up and running again.

Naturally, then, disaster recovery across heterogeneous infrastructure is proving to be a hot commodity, as storage and networking firms look to shore up their capabilities in preparation for even more advanced cloud architectures. A company called Unitrends has made several strategic moves to align its Enterprise Backup virtual appliance, which operates across Hyper-V and vSphere deployments, with high-speed data center platforms. In recent weeks, the firm has teamed up with Nexsan to form an integrated backup system with the E-Series SAN and NST5000 Unified hybrid storage solution, while at the same time joining forces with with ExaGrid, a maker of scalable, disk-based backup systems. In both cases, the overriding goal is to provide for both rapid recovery and broadbased reach into widespread enterprise infrastructure.

This may be well and good for enterprises looking to revamp their entire recovery infrastructure. However, for those that would still like to utilize their existing platforms, there are ways to integrate them into a more cohesive whole. A company called Bocada, for example, provides a backup management and analytics system that drills into disparate systems to ascertain their performance. From a single dashboard, users can analyze individual backup operations, not just servers of virtual machines, and then adjust policies to correct deficiencies and improve on successes.

The reality of heterogeneous environments is also hitting home for the top virtualization players. VMware recently announced that its vFabric Data Director 2.0 will support Oracle databases within the vSphere environment, which should make it easier for developers to create all manner of multi-vendor database applications, including provisioning, cloning and backup. vFabric now supports Oracle 10gR2 and 11gR2, as well as Postgres 9.1, and provides access to various development environments through the GemFire, SQLFire and Spring frameworks.

Heterogeneous environments come into being primarily from the twin drives of increasing operation performance and flexibility and cutting costs. That they tend to follow haphazard development paths has more to do with budgetary constraints than lack of foresight. After all, not many enterprises have the resources to build fully integrated data center environments from scratch.

When it comes to devising a cohesive backup infrastructure for these disparate environments, however, most organizations will keep a close eye on the bottom line in the hopes that overall performance will never truly be tested in real-world situations. Fortunately, with a heterogeneous backup system to match existing data center environments, enterprises will find themselves with the best of both worlds: low costs and a thorough recovery platform.



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