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Data Protection: Backup in “Software-Defined” World

GaganBhatia ‎09-17-2013 09:26 AM - edited ‎02-19-2015 12:46 PM

“Software-defined” everything was the big buzz at recently concluded VMworld San Francisco 2013 event. Last year at the same venue, VMware laid the foundation for its software-defined data center vision by announcing its acquisition of Nicira – a software-defined networking company - and announcing vCloud Suite, a platform for IT to provide self-service consumption of applications and infrastructure components for business users. In partnership with VMware, HP also announced the native integration between HP Data Protector software and vCloud Director environment. 



This year, VMware unfolded the next chapter of its software defined datacenter vision and made several key announcements such as vSphere 5.5 and vCloud Suite 5.5, NSX Network Virtualization, virtual SAN, and vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service.


Stephen Spellicy, Director of Product Management for Enterprise Data Protection, has written a nice summary in his blog Takeaways from VMworld, Living in a Software-Defined World.In this blog post I want to build on Stephen’s view of software defined datacenter and what it really means for backup.


According to VMware the software-defined datacenter is where “all infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service, and the control of this data center is entirely automated by software.” Flexibility is the crux of “software-defined” datacenter. That means in the “software-defined” world changes to the infrastructure can be made rapidly without making changes in the underlying hardware infrastructure. Additionally, with applications like vCloud Suite, business users can request and provision multi-tiered applications in self-service fashion. This new self-service deployment strategy helps IT to effectively meet accelerated business demands.


But what does this mean for critical IT functions such as backup? To efficiently backup data in “software-defined” world, intelligent automation, deep application integration, flexible restore options, and centralized management must be fundamental part of a backup architecture.


Deep hypervisor integration and greater automation - Deep integration with hypervisor is required to identify changes made in the environment so that backup policies can be automatically adjusted for complete coverage.


Flexible Restore Options – Getting Restore right is critical in these environments. This requires not just backing up data but the metadata that defines it. For example, a multi-tier vApp can be a collection of several virtual machines with its metadata stored in vCenter. Just like administrators can create new virtual machines based on existing virtual machines, administrators can spin new vApps based on existing vApps. Restoring a vApp requires backup of not just the virtual machines in the collection but the associated configuration information. In disaster recovery scenarios when the whole environment needs to be recovered, it is imperative that both data and associated meta-data are recovered to avoid any manual steps required to bring the system online.


Centralized Management – While it is good to see at VMworld that some organizations have shifted towards software defined datacenters, in reality we are at least few years away before greater number of IT organizations has fully embraced software-defined datacenter and IT-as-a-service concept. Till then, it is important that backup applications centrally and efficiently protect physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructure across different backup targets.


Backup is generally considered a major deterrent for many organizations looking to exploit virtualization. But it doesn’t have to be. Backup applications, such as HP Data Protector, that offer advanced hypervisor integration, flexible restore options, and seamless extension from on-premises to cloud can become an accelerant to virtualization adoption.

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About the Author


Gagan Bhatia serves as WW product marketing manager for Enterprise Data Protection software within HP Autonomy business unit. He has over 15 years of experience in developing and marketing enterprise software including archiving, data protection, and information management solutions. He is based in San Francisco Bay Area.

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