EMC Moves to Fix Broken Backup and Recovery Processes

    In theory, backup and recovery should be a fairly simply process. In practice, though, it’s often one of the most fractured and poorly managed processes in all of IT.

    As part of an effort to unify broken backup processes, EMC today defined what it describes as a new data protection architecture based around a refresh to its disk-based backup systems, upgrades to its Avamar and NetWorker backup software, and enhancements to the Mozy cloud storage service.

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    The Seven Deadly Sins of Backup and Recovery

    According to Guy Churchward, president of EMC’s Backup and Recovery division, the “North Star” that EMC is marching toward is a unified data protection architecture that will allow IT organizations to truly manage backup and recovery as a service. Today backup and recovery is broken in most organizations because not only are storage administrators backing up systems, but database administrators and virtual machine administrators frequently have their own tools for performing the same function.

    In addition to unveiling new Data Domain backup systems for the midrange that  are four times faster and 10 times more scalable than the previous generation of systems, EMC has now integrated support for backup tools that database administrators use to back up Oracle Exadata and SAP HANA systems. The goal, says Churchward, is to allow IT organizations to use Data Domain system as a set of shared resources regardless of who in the organization is actually running the backup and recovery operation. Overall, EMC claims the new Data Domain systems offer a 38 percent lower cost per gigabyte than the previous generation of disk-based backup systems.

    Longer term, as part of the effort to unify backup and recovery, EMC is working to unify its disparate Avamar and NetWorker backup applications. In the latest release of version 7.0 of Avamar, there is now support for file system and network attached storage systems using the Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) that EMC has embraced as an open standard for delivering backup as a service. In addition, the latest version of Avamar includes the ability to boot a virtual machine directly from a Data Domain backup system in under two minutes, which will significantly improve recovery times of virtual machines.

    Meanwhile, version 8.1 of EMC NetWorker adds support for snapshots and the ability to support both Fibre Channel and Ethernet-based systems.

    Finally, in a nod to the fact that the Mozy cloud backup service is increasingly being used in the enterprise, EMC has added more robust administrative tools and integration with Microsoft Active Directory.

    While backup and recovery may not get same level of attention as other IT processes, in the era of Big Data and the cloud, it’s becoming more important than ever. Ultimately, EMC is not only trying to unify backup and recovery, but additional processes such as archiving and disaster recovery as well.

     The challenge is not only finding a way to perform the function within the amount of allotted time available, but also making it easier for anyone to back up files with confidence in the fact that they are actually going to be truly recoverable.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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