My (Fake) Q&A on Big Backup Trends for 2015 with Zetta's Chris Schin
I recently cornered our VP of products Chris Schin while he was sketching out strategies on how to knock out his 2015 resolutions—take more road trips, drink more water, master slalom skiing, earn more/spend less, and so on. No, not really! But more on that later.
Chris was actually planning out Zetta’s key priorities for the year when I kindly interrupted him to get his take on the top backup and recovery trends for 2015.
Q: What do you see as a big backup trend for this year?
A: More and more customers are virtualizing their IT environment—in fact, a recent survey of our customers revealed that 48% have a virtualized environment. As the steady growth continues, IT administrators will be challenged with having to reduce complexity and resources of managing large number of snapshots, incremental changes and backup images generated by highly virtualized environments which affects overall backup efficiency and capacity. Cloud backup and restore plays a key role here as a repository for recovering images, as long as image recovery and bandwidth speeds are sufficient.
Virtualization has also helped make bare metal recovery (BMR)—restoring an entire system, OS, drivers, applications and data, from backup—outmoded. For BMR to work, the new hardware should be identical to the original or you are going to experience serious errors. In virtualized environments, recovering an image to a VM is so much simpler and less error-prone than using hardware-dependent BMR. For example, we can store a server image backup in the cloud and quickly recover an entire system and its data to a VM located anywhere in the world—it’s the first direct-to-cloud image backup, without the need for an appliance – the next trend topic of discussion.
Q: Let’s talk appliances. Do you see the need for backup hardware going away?
A: The point of appliances is to speed up the cloud-based backup and recovery process. Appliance-less backup exists at consumer levels but isn’t fast enough for data centers. In addition, they introduce problems like extra cost to install and manage, increased complexity, complicated upgrades, and a rigid restore process that depends on the presence of the appliance at the restore site. And should a disaster happen, well there’s the pitfall.
There are two things affecting the factor of why backup appliances are no longer needed: WAN-optimized technologies and the increase of available bandwidth.
WAN-optimized technologies, including massive parallelism, localized change detection, dynamic TCP optimization, dedupe, compression, and so on, is key for fast performance for backing up and recovering large data volumes without appliances. And we optimize these features for the needs of specific data sets whether they’re files, databases or server images.
In addition to WAN optimization, we’re also seeing a massive increase in broadband access in the U.S. with available speeds up to 1Gb even for the smallest business customers. That is a very big deal for downloading, streaming, born-in-the-cloud IT services, and appliance-less data protection.
The trend towards faster, software-only cloud backup lets IT replace hardware appliances with software-driven fast performance, the cloud’s infinite scalability, and the ability to recover data anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Q: From a traditional backup standpoint, is there still room for tape and disk?
A: Tape and local disk still have their place in data protection. Disk with data services are good protection mediums for primary storage, and tape is good for long-term archival. Customers have sunk a lot of money and time into these systems and want to leverage them. But for efficient backup and restore of steadily growing data, the cloud’s scalability is optimal.
As long as your backup product optimizes recovery by application and accelerates your WAN, the cloud becomes a primary backup and recovery tier. There’s a big trend towards a classic multi-tier backup strategy, which leverages existing assets and provides high performance backup and recovery using the cloud.
Q: There is one big factor we haven’t talked about yet: Internet security. Given some recent high profile hacks, is the cloud secure enough to trust with your data?
A: Stronger cloud security will always be a key factor. Any data that is potentially exposed to multiple users should be highly secured, not only cloud-based data but corporate networks too. And security means not only cyber security, which can be sadly lacking in many organizations. It also has a strong physical component. For online backup and recovery, customers should look at providers with hardened data centers with SAS70 Type II or SSAE-16 SOC 2 certifications.
For the cyber security aspect, backup vendors need to secure customer data in-transit as well as at-rest. Encryption is basic to this of course, and so is backup-related protection such as verified backup completion and automated monitoring and risk response. Finally, one of the hacker community’s favorite intrusion methods is simply poor user access control. That’s why we’ve recently added extra security to our web portals with two-factor authentication using Google Authenticator in addition to customer logins and passwords for stronger security.
Q: So, what about your New Year’s resolutions. Care to share your top goal?
A: To get through this Q&A without having to divulge any of my New Year’s resolutions.