Archive for February, 2012

Cloud Backup Your Way! (Releasing ZCB 4.1)

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Today, we released ZCB 4.1, a major update to our prior version 4.0.2. In addition to significant polish and general fixes, ZCB 4.1 has several features requested by our customers.

Here is a walkthrough:

Better utilize your Internet bandwidth based on your work schedule

Traditionally, data backup is seen as an activity to be completed during nights or weekends – when users are not actively using their systems. But today, this practice is difficult to follow for two main reasons: First, the available time-window for backups has now shrunk as people now work from different offices at different times of the day. Second, with improvements in Internet speeds still lagging behind the growth in data volumes, hoping to upload everything during the weekend looks like an eventual impossibility.

So how does one cope with this changed reality? While we can’t perhaps solve the problem of lack of bandwidth, we can try dividing it better between our production work and backup procedure. And this is exactly what ZCB 4.1 offers through its new feature which allows you to specify the bandwidth throttling limits down to the granularity of 15 minute intervals of the day. This essentially means that you can control ZCB’s usage of bandwidth to exactly fit your environment’s unique network utilization pattern.

To help you understand how this feature can be used, we have also included intelligent predefined templates such as “Throttle on weekdays” and “Gradual throttle on weekdays”. The latter template, for example, limits ZCB’s usage of bandwidth during peak weekday hours and relaxes the limits as it begins to close. This is shown in the figure below:

Time Window

(In the above screenshot, green bars represent full bandwidth usage, red bars represent significantly throttled bandwidth and other bars represent a value in between these two extremes).

You can also work with Zmanda’s support team to customize these templates to exactly fit your needs.

ZCB now supports seven backup locations in four continents

ZCB 4.1 supports the two newest regions of Amazon S3 - US West (Oregon) and South America (São Paulo). If you are near these regions and/or wish to use them - you can celebrate a more, since all usage charges for these two regions are waived off until March 20th, 2012!

With this update, ZCB now supports seven convenient regions (spread across four continents!) to backup to – making backups of our users across the globe more efficient, convenient and practical. And when we are talking about a global user-base, let me add that in addition to English, German, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified) and Japanese languages, ZCB UI is now available in Korean language too. ZCB will speak more languages soon - stay tuned!

Cloud Locations

Backup Oracle servers

ZCB 4.1 includes the support for backing up Oracle 11g databases running on Windows servers. All backup levels - Full, Differential and Incremental are supported.

Oracle

Backup more, at the same time

ZCB 4.1 supports parallel backups across backup sets. This means you don’t have to wait for your ongoing backup to finish before future backups begin. This allows you to schedule backups independently and easily. This item was on our radar for quite some time and we have finally added this support in ZCB 4.1.

Faster and more efficient restores

When all you want is to restore a few specific files from your backups, why should the whole backup archive get downloaded from the cloud? Yes, now ZCB only downloads the specific chunk of data from within the backup archive which it needs to complete the requested restore, so that you can recover your data faster - with minimal downtime.

Save costs with a finer grained control on retention policy

ZCB 4.1 allows users to have different retention policies for full and incremental/differential backups. What this means is that you can choose just how long you want a particular kind of backup to remain on the cloud. This new feature will be very useful in ensuring judicious use of your cloud storage, which could, in turn, translate to significant reductions your backup costs. An instance of such a backup scheme is:

retention

Here, full backups are scheduled every week and retained as per default retention policy (two weeks). But the user doesn’t want to retain incremental backups for so long and wishes to delete them after 8 days since the backup cycle is of 1 week.

The above feature further illustrates the design of ZCB to let you backup your way, and also have control in deciding how much you want to pay for your backups. To see more such examples, you may want to read my earlier blog post.

Bulk-deploy ZCB on multiple machines with the new Configuration Cloning utility

ZCB 4.1 includes a new utility to help you in deploying ZCB on multiple of your machines more efficiently. If you are looking to protect multiple of your systems using ZCB, you may be interested in exploring this new feature. For more details, please look at our knowledgebase article here: http://network.zmanda.com/lore/article.php?id=576

So this was a brief walkthrough of ZCB 4.1. If you are an existing customer and find these features interesting, download it from your account on http://network.zmanda.com and upgrade now (the release notes can be found here). And if you are yet to purchase ZCB, well, let us know what’s been holding you back!

Our engineering is aggressively working on many more cloud backup innovations. If you would like to request a feature or have some feedback, we would love to hear from you at zcb@zmanda.com.