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Archive for the ‘Disaster Recovery’ Category

November 12, 2014

How Cloud Backup Can Save Your Vacation

Laura is Zetta.net's Content Marketing Manager. She writes, edits, designs and drinks too much coffee.

HowCloudBackupCanSaveYourVacation

Crises have an uncanny knack for striking during vacations. This holds true for most professions, but it’s ESPECIALLY true for IT – and if the person going on vacation is the only one who really knows how to fix something, it’s practically guaranteed.

In other words, it you’re the one in charge of backups (and especially if the company is small enough that there’s no backup for YOU), you can pretty much expect there’ll be a critical data loss emergency the minute your plane leaves the runway.

So there you are with 2500 miles between you and the office, and you get a frantic call that the CFO’s financial outlook report has suddenly and mysteriously vanished. Now what?

The $200/Night Office With a View

If your office relies on tape backups, you’ll need to piece together whether the particular tape they need is already in offsite storage, and coordinate the retrieval if necessary. Once the correct tape is available, depending on your setup you might need to coach an untrained coworker via phone through restoring from the tape (and how to find the file they need).

If you’ve got an appliance, you might still have to talk someone onsite through the restore process. And if your appliance is the kind that just takes server images, you’ll also have to explain how to find that one important file. Either way, it sounds like your visit to paradise is turning into a more expensive version of the daily grind.

On the other hand, if you’re a Zetta.net cloud backup shop, you’re sipping Mai Tais at the beachside tiki bar in no time flat.

Recover Data from Anywhere & Everywhere

Data loss incidents are unpleasant, and data loss incidents while you’re away are even more unpleasant. But it’s also the kind of situation where the cloud and, in particular, SaaS can really shine.

Since the Zetta.net service is based on the Internet and not any particular piece of hardware (or a large, complex, licensed-per-endpoint software program, for that matter), you aren’t tied to a particular location for your restores. When something needs to be recovered, you can log in through the web from anywhere with an Internet connection and start it back on its way.

Moreover, the recovery process is designed to save time and avoid unnecessary data transfer. Once you’re logged into the web portal, you can browse all your backed-up files as if they were on your desktop, then just select and restore the files you actually need. This lets you get your data back as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Additionally, with our newest 4.6 release you now have the ability to browse into image backups and download individual files without needing to recover the entire image. This is accomplished using the same interface that accesses individual files backed up with Zetta.net through a standard web browser. You can then either download the needed file directly or trigger a recovery to drop that data back into the original location, WITHOUT having to recover the entire server image first. Since server images can get pretty enormous, this can be a huge time savings (and incidentally, it also allows you to get the best of both backup worlds – the convenience of file-based with completeness of server images).

So the next time you disembark at Kahului to discover a critical file is missing (and that the office has been calling every 15 minutes waiting for you to land), it doesn’t necessarily mean your vacation plans just got scuttled. Just plop down in the hotel business center, log in to the Zetta.net portal, restore the missing file to its proper location and be on your way. Those Mai Tais aren’t going to drink themselves.

October 29, 2014

Downtime Kills Business. Sometimes Literally.

Laura is Zetta.net's Content Marketing Manager. She writes, edits, designs and drinks too much coffee.

DowntimeKillsBusiness

Losing access to data when you’re trying to use it is annoying for anyone. For businesses, though, the damage goes beyond just inconvenience. The downtime can turn into an even bigger disaster than whatever caused it in the first place.

A CA Technologies study published in InformationWeek found that companies in North America and Europe lost more than $26.5 billion in revenue to IT downtime – and since the study is a few years old at this point, it’d be safe to assume those numbers have probably gone up.

These numbers factor in a variety of things, including lost productivity as employees are unable to work (and later as they must shovel through backlog once service has been restored), lost business as orders can’t be placed or processed, and reputational damage as frustrated customers vent their displeasure or leave for a competitor.

Beyond just the cost of the downtime itself, the effects tend to linger. In an interview with TechRadar, an IT specialist firm notes that “a major outage will take months if not years to fully recover from.” If the downtime and/or data loss is severe or prolonged enough there’s a chance the business might not recover at all (RIP Code Spaces).

Getting back in business

The biggest takeaway, obviously, is that businesses should do their best to avoid downtime and losing data. There are a number of mitigating actions organizations can take to limit their risk of disaster, and there are numerous best practice guides out there on how to go about it. But at some point, every business is bound to draw the short straw.

For that reason, it’s vital to have a disaster recovery plan developed, tested and in place. If and when there IS a disaster, this helps limit the damage to minimal downtime while you recover data from backups. Since recovery speed is key to minimizing the fallout of downtime, a big part of the DR plan will be the organization’s RTO (AKA, how long you can afford to be without your data).

This is when having a faster DR solution pays off – especially if you’re not tied to any specific hardware for recovering your data.

While appliances come with their own set of inherent limitations, a big concern people tend to have about using the cloud for DR is how long it will take them to get their data back. It’s a valid one. A lot of no-appliance cloud services started life as consumer backup, and can’t really handle the volume of data a disaster-stricken business would need to recover in a short time. That’s where WAN optimization comes in.

We talk about built-in WAN optimization a lot – and that’s because it’s an indispensable part of our service. As our VP of Products Chris Schin recently discussed with Storage Switzerland, Zetta.net focused its early dev resources on developing WAN optimization technology to address the existing problems with cloud backup & DR. This allows us to get around the need for an appliance, while offering the kind of recovery speed that enterprise clients need to get back on their feet quickly.

A quick look at the numbers makes it clear that business downtime is an expensive – and potentially game-ending – proposition. The occasional downtime / data loss is bound to happen, and when it does a speedy DR solution can make all the difference. The faster you get your data back, the faster you get back in business.

September 02, 2014

Why VHD Recovery is Best Recovery

Laura is Zetta.net's Content Marketing Manager. She writes, edits, designs and drinks too much coffee.

VHDRecovery

We’ve been talking about how the new direct-to-cloud server image function in Version 4.5 makes for better backups, and it does! But as anyone who’s ever had to restore a server after a major incident can tell you, backup is only half the battle. The other half – the more important half – is the recovery. And as it so happens, Version 4.5 has some improvements to make there too.

Smoother Restores through Standard Tech

When our customers make image backups with Zetta DataProtect, the image is saved in the VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) format, which is native to Windows. This offers a whole range of benefits for a smoother, simpler recovery:

Standard format. Because VHD is a native Windows format, there’s no need to convert to/from a proprietary backup format. Once you’ve recovered your VHD it’s ready to use immediately, speeding up the recovery process (and here at Zetta.net, we’re all about speed).

Compatibility. VHD is a Windows-centric format and therefore native to Microsoft Hyper-V. However, restores can be done to physical servers as well as non-Microsoft virtualization platforms like VMware.

Restore variety. “Flexible” is a seriously overused word, but this is one circumstance where it absolutely fits. When recovering a VHD, you have lots of choices how to go about it. To name a few:

• Mount and read it as a disk

• Boot it into Hyper-V

• Convert it to VMDK and put it in a Hyper-V farm

• Use standard recovery technology to burn it back on to a physical box

Better BMR. To put it bluntly, the advantage of VHD over traditional BMR is that VHD BMR actually works. In the past, BMR has been more of a nice idea than an actual functioning feature. It’s usually a very intensive, proprietary process that relies on a 3rd-party OS to try to configure new hardware for a restore. With VHD, your restore stays within the world of Windows; the entire process gets a lot simpler and less likely to go horribly wrong.

Keeping Up with Our Users

There’s a common thread in all these benefits: adaptability. It’s a cliché to talk about how the world of technology is constantly changing, but, well, it is. The system setup that works great for a user today might not be ideal for them tomorrow. And when our customers’ needs evolve, we want to evolve with them – not hold them back.

When a user needs to restore a server, VHD gives them the option to do whatever’s best for the situation they’re currently in. If they want to restore a physical server back to hardware, they can do it with fewer issues than trying traditional BMR. If they want to take advantage of a physical server’s demise to virtualize it, the image is already in a format that can be easily added to a virtual platform. And if the server is already virtual? Even better – just spin it up.

Don’t get us wrong – we’re not repositioning ourselves as a conversion tool. There are plenty of utilities out there already that do physical/virtual conversions, and we’re not interested in getting into that game. Our raison d’etre, as always, is backup & DR. But we DO want to make life as easy for our users as possible.

Let’s be honest: if you need to restore your server images, you’re probably already not having a very good day. But with VHD server images, at least we can help make it easier to move forward.

August 27, 2014

Video: Chris Schin Talks No-Appliance Image Backup with Storage Switzerland

Laura is Zetta.net's Content Marketing Manager. She writes, edits, designs and drinks too much coffee.

StorageSwissPic

It’s often assumed that you need an appliance for enterprise-level cloud backup & DR. How does Zetta.net work without one?

When backing up server images, how does using VHD increase your restore options – and how does it give you a better BMR?

Senior Analyst George Crump of Storage Switzerland recently caught up with Zetta.net VP of Products Chris Schin to ask those questions and more.

The Highlights

1. Zetta.net’s core product principle is to ensure our solutions require no onsite appliance at the customer premise, either physical or virtual. This allows us to eliminate the cost, complexity and scalability issues that come along with appliances. We’re able to do this because we’ve focused our resources on developing WAN optimization technology to rapidly move large files over the Internet without special hardware.

2. Our new server image backup function makes use of standard Windows technology to create an adaptable solution not tied to any specific system or deployment platform. Using the native Windows VHD format makes restores simple, and offers a wide range of options for physical and virtual recovery –including mounting the image as a drive and reading it, booting it into Hyper-V, converting it to VMDK and putting it in a Hyper-V farm or using standard recovery tech to burn it back on to a physical box.

3. Using VHD to restore to a physical box also avoids the pitfalls of proprietary, process-intensive traditional BMR. Since VHD is native to Windows, using it to restore a Windows machine is much simpler and less error-prone than past BMR.

Chris Schin and Storage Switzerland at VMworld 2014

August 21, 2014

Why No Appliance Makes for Better Server Image Cloud Backups

Laura is Zetta.net's Content Marketing Manager. She writes, edits, designs and drinks too much coffee.

ServerImageNoAppliance_v2

Earlier this week, we announced a big set of new features in our Version 4.5 release – the biggest of which is direct-to-cloud server image backups, without the need for an appliance or a local staging drive.

Full server image backups are something our customers have been asking for, and it’s something we’ve wanted to offer for a long time. But we’ve held off on adding this functionality until we had a cloud-first solution we were happy with – which is why we’re very excited to be introducing it in Version 4.5.

There were solutions available that we could have used to bridge the gap, but none of them were really architected to perform best with cloud. Many server image solutions are also reliant on an appliance, which is a non-starter for us.

Why no appliance?

We’ve talked before about why we’re not really big fans of appliances, but here’s why we think they’re not the way to go for your server images.

It delays disaster recovery. This is the big one. An appliance can be handy to have around for everyday restores like deleted files, but in an actual building-on-fire kind of disaster, an appliance can be a real drag on recovery. If you lose your servers and your backup appliance in a disaster (which is a prime situation for wanting your full server image backups, isn’t it?), you can’t restore until you get a replacement backup appliance sent to you – delaying your recovery by days.

It’s complicated. Any time you have to add a physical box to your system, it’s going to make the system more complex. Once you receive your new box, you need to test it, integrate it, possibly troubleshoot it, and then keep it maintained along with the rest of the system. The complexity issue goes double if you’re installing appliances on multiple sites, along with…

It gets expensive fast. Not only is there usually a pretty significant capital expenditure to buy the appliance itself, but the lifetime costs can add up as well. On top of any recurring cloud subscription fees, the increased complexity means increased admin cost as well. And if you’ve got more than one site that needs backing up, you’ll need an appliance for each one – so multiply that initial capital cost.

It doesn’t really do that whole “scaling” thing. Data just keeps growing, and it’s not likely to stop. This is a problem for fixed-size solutions like appliances. You can either buy one much bigger than you currently need (and essentially have half your equipment sitting idle for the time being), or buy one sized for your current needs and hope your data needs don’t expand for a while. When it DOES get full, pretty much the only thing to do is upgrade to a bigger one.

So how is our direct-to-cloud better?

So if appliances have so many downsides, why are they so prevalent for image backups? The short answer is performance. Many cloud-only backup vendors are rooted in the consumer space, and can’t provide the kind of recovery speed that businesses need for serious DR.

This is what makes Version 4.5 special. It’s architected specifically for cloud AND enterprise, with built-in WAN acceleration to move large amounts of data quickly over the internet. This lets us give our customers the level of performance necessary for enterprise data recovery, without shackling them to a hardware appliance.

There’s other benefits, too:

Recover from anywhere, without the wait. Since recovery isn’t limited by specific hardware, users can recover their backups from anywhere with an Internet connection. And since there’s no need to wait for a replacement appliance, recovery can start immediately after a disaster.

More efficient backups. Direct-to-cloud means just that – the image goes directly into the cloud, with no need to first write a local copy to an appliance or staging drive. This means backups get into the cloud faster, since there’s no intermediate step, and use fewer resources.

Scalable by nature. Physical media has an inherent size limit, but the cloud does not. When a user’s data exceeds their current allotment, they can automatically scale up to a higher subscription size, with zero disruption.

We’ll be talking more in the coming weeks about other new applications enabled by our new server image functions. Stay tuned!



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