Archive for June, 2010

Go Tapeless - Use Zmanda Cloud Backup for backup and disaster recovery

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

If you are in charge of ensuring backup and disaster recovery of critical servers for your business, you have undoubtedly grappled with unwieldy tapes. In this age of digital everything, writing to tapes and then shipping them to a remote location seems like a relic from another era. Advances in Cloud based services, e.g. those offered by Amazon Web Services, provide an excellent alternative to tapes for backup and disaster recovery.

We have been offering Amazon S3 based cloud backup solution for about three years now. Today we are announcing the third generation of our Zmanda Cloud Backup product. Particularly exciting for me is the support for the Asia Pacific Region.

Cloud Backup to Three Continents

Cloud Backup to Three Continents

For many of the same reasons that Amazon picked Singapore as their first Asia Pacific Region, Singapore is a great destination to preserve your valuable assets. Performance and robustness provided by Singapore’s Internet connectivity is a major plus for backup and disaster recovery needs.

Backing up your data to the cloud requires several steps. You need to (1) Plan what do you want to backup and when; (2) Extract data out of your live applications, e.g. SQL Server or Exchange; (2) Stage this backup image to transfer to the cloud; (3) Monitor the transfer for any Internet hiccups and take corrective actions; and (4) Delete backup images which have expired per your retention policy. Zmanda Cloud Backup automates these steps through an easy GUI based backup configuration and management. ZCB integrates with S3’s REST API to coordinate transfer of on-premises data to the storage cloud.

In third-gen ZCB we also added support for international character sets. So, ZCB is friendly with files and folders named in e.g. Chinese (Simplified or Traditional), Japanese or Korean.

Backup What screenshot - Chinese filenames

Backup What screenshot - Chinese filenames

Backup What screenshot - Japanese filenames

Backup What screenshot - Japanese filenames

While a lot of Zmanda’s customers backup to local disks or tapes, Cloud Backup is fastest growing part of our business. In many environments, customers are backing up some backup sets to local media and other backup sets to the Cloud - with plans to move entire backup to the storage on the Cloud in a few years. We have seen this adoption across the board, including in the traditionally conservative financial industry. So, it appears more and more IT managers are daring to go tapeless when it comes to their backup operations!

Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Most small and medium sized business do not have a formal Disaster Recovery (DR) plan and implementation because of its cumbersome and costly nature. Various factors make DR complex, including: (1) Allocation and administration of remote compute and storage resources; (2) Data transport mechanism - e.g. tape shipment or data replication; and (3) Application environment synchronization. To makes matter worse, regular testing of a DR implementation tends to be complicated, and in many cases not practical.

Cloud Computing provides an excellent means to radically simplify the DR process. This is achieved by backing up your critical applications to a Storage Cloud (e.g. Amazon S3), and making preparation to quickly recover in the nearby Compute Cloud (e.g. Amazon EC2).

We have two solutions for backup and DR in the cloud: Amanda Enterprise (with the Amazon S3 Option) and Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB). Amanda Enterprise is meant for environments with heterogeneous systems, whereas ZCB is targeted at small businesses with a handful of Windows servers and desktops.

Amanda Enterpise DR in the Cloud

Setup of Amanda Enterprise for Cloud Based DR

 

Zmanda Cloud Backup DR in the Cloud

Setup of Zmanda Cloud Backup for Cloud Based DR

 

The process of setting up DR in the cloud is as follows:

  1. Set up backup process to Amazon S3.
  2. Complete first backup of applications on primary site to S3.
  3. Configure standby VMs on EC2 to match the OS (and patch level) of the corresponding systems on your primary site. For all data storage, use Elastic Block Storage, so you have persistent data across reboots.
  4. Install Zmanda backup software on these standby VMs.
  5. Install the same S3 certificate that is used in step #1 on the standby VMs.
  6. In case of Amanda Enterprise setup the AE-DR option to replicate backup catalog and configuration to the standby VM running the AE server.
  7. Perform full recovery from S3 to standby VMs.
  8. Take a snapshot of the standby VMs.
  9. Shutdown standby VMs.
  10. Optionally start standby VMs periodically to perform steps #6-#8. This will help in reducing the time to recover after a disaster and also tests your DR process.

If you are considering the Cloud for your DR needs, come join us tomorrow (June 22nd) for a webinar: Noted Storage Analyst, Lauren Whitehouse from Enterprise Strategy Group, will be joining me: Leveraging the Cloud for Radically Simple and Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery