Archive for March, 2013

Introducing ZCB 4.5: We continue to make it better!

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

We’re excited to inform you that our latest release of Zmanda Cloud Backup – ZCB 4.5 – is now available. With many great new features and usability and performance improvements, below are some of the highlights for our customers:

Hello Hyper-V servers!

Now, you can use ZCB to protect your guest virtual machines running on a Hyper-V 2008 Server and Hyper-V 2012 Server. You can backup specific VMs or back all up in a single backup set.

Hyper V

Both “Saved State” and “Child VM Snapshot” backup mechanisms are supported. Since the latter method doesn’t cause any downtime for the guest VM, it is the preferred method of ZCB. Disabling “Saved State” Method can also be achieved by simply checking the “Backup a running VM only if its hot backup can be performed” checkbox.

In the event of a disaster, restoring your guest VM(s) is easy. You can restore a VM to the same Hyper-V server or a different one. All you need to do is open ZCB on the target Hyper-V server, select the backup you want to restore and click “Restore.” ZCB will take care of the rest.

To get started, login to your Zmanda account and download the latest 4.5 version from the Download tab!

Introducing Near-Continuous Data Protection (CDP) of SQL Server

With version 4.5, ZCB now supports incremental (log-based) backups of SQL Server. This helps a great deal since log backups contain a list of all the individual changes to the database, and hence, provide an ability to restore the database to any historic timestamp, regardless of the actual backup time.

Why do we call this near-CDP and not CDP? Note that the log backups are not fired automatically upon each change event and are still “schedule based.” While this minimizes the backup overhead on your CPU/memory/bandwidth resources, it also means that you can only restore to a timestamp before a log backup has successfully taken place. That said, note that you can always choose a higher frequency for log backups (for example, “every 15 minutes”) to keep this as close to a true CDP system as you want.

Here is how one can specify any point in time for restore:

point in time for restore

While we’re discussing SQL Server backups, there is some more good news:  ZCB now performs Virtual Device Interface (VDI) based differential backups that can be significantly more compact and efficient than our earlier VSS based differential backups!

To see these improvements in action, login to your Zmanda account and download the latest 4.5 version from the Download tab!

Better performance and usability

Performance and usability are always top of mind for us when it comes to development and in ZCB 4.5, you’ll see some great enhancements, including:

Better network fault tolerance: The era of dial-up connections may be over, but the some of our customers often report temporary network outages. We have been following a “learn-fix-test-learn” approach to counter such network issues users may face, and have already added several defence mechanisms in past ZCB releases. Taking that approach further, we have now added another fail-safe mechanism to auto-detect and resume tasks that may still fail despite all these mechanisms.

Proactive validation of backup sets: New ZCB users looking to backup Exchange or SQL Server will benefit from a proactive validation mechanism in ZCB 4.5. When you create this type of backup set and go to save it, ZCB will now pop up a message if it detects a problem with your backup environment. Here is an example:

Proactive validation of backup sets

ZCB Global Dashboard improvements: Our dashboard team has been busy rolling out new features at a fast pace. Two of the most recent and powerful features are:

Delete backups from cloud

For our customers backing up to Google Cloud Storage (we’ll update customers using Amazon S3 in the nearfuture on this feature), you can now delete backups from the cloud. Whether you want to make some room in the cloud or simply want to clear old or unnecessary backups from cloud, you can quickly delete the backup runs using the dashboard from anywhere (screenshot below).

Track backup retention periods

The ability to specify the exact retention duration of cloud backups is one of the most valued features of ZCB. From a compliance or backup strategy standpoint, this control is absolutely necessary.

With ZCB 4.5, you now can monitor the retention period of all cloud backups on the dashboard. If a backup is going to be removed by ZCB in next 7 days (per your retention policy for example), it is also highlighted to get your attention.

dashboard

How are we doing?

As we continue to focus on making ZCB more useful for our customers, we really need to know how you’re using our service and how we can further improve to meet your needs. Please continue to send your comments and feature requests to zcb@zmanda.com.

Also, if you are a ZCB customer and would like to be kept up-to-date on product enhancements, please consider subscribing to this blog.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

-Nik

Amanda Enterprise 3.3 brings advanced backup management features

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Built on extensive research and development, combined with active feedback from a thriving open source community, Amanda Enterprise (AE) 3.3 is here! AE 3.3 has significant architecture and feature updates and is a robust, scalable and feature-rich platform that meets the backup needs of heterogeneous environments, across Linux, Windows, OS X and Solaris-based systems.

As we worked to further develop Amanda Enterprise, it was important to us that the architecture and feature updates would provide better control and management for backup administration.  Our main goal was to deliver a scalable platform which enables you to perform and manage backups your way.

Key enhancements in Amanda Enterprise include:

Advanced Cloud Backup Management: AE 3.3 now supports use of many new and popular cloud storage platforms as backup repositories. We have also added cloud backup features to give users more control over their backups for speed and data priority.

 Backup Storage Devices Supported by Amanda Enterprise 3.3


Backup Storage Devices Supported by Amanda Enterprise 3.3

Platforms supported now include Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, HP Cloud Storage, Japan’s IIJ GIO Storage Service, and private and public storage clouds built on OpenStack Swift. Notably, AE 3.3 supports all current Amazon S3 locations including various locations in US (including GovCloud), EU, Asia, Brazil and Australia.

Cloud Storage Locations Supported by Amanda Enterprise


Cloud Storage Locations Supported by Amanda Enterprise

In addition to new platforms, now, you can control how many parallel backup (upload) or restore (download) streams you want based on your available bandwidth. You can even throttle upload or download speeds per backup set level; for example, you can give higher priority to the backup of your more important data.

Optimized SQL Server and Exchange Backups: If you are running multiple SQL Server or Exchange databases on a Windows server, AE 3.3 allows selective backup or recovery of an individual database. This enables you to optimize the use of your backup resources by selecting only the databases you want to back up, or to improve recovery time by enabling recovery of a selected database. Of course, the ability to do an express backup and recovery of all databases on a server is still available.

Further optimizing, Zmanda Management Console (which is the GUI for Amanda Enterprise) now automatically discovers databases on a specific Windows server, allowing you to simply pick and choose those you want to backup.

Improved Virtual Tape and Physical Tape Management: Our developers have done extensive work in this area to enhance usability, including seamless management of available disk space. With extensive concurrency added to the Amanda architecture, you can eliminate using the staging disk for backup-to-disk configurations. AE 3.3 will write parallel streams of backups directly to disk without going through the staging disk. You can also choose to optionally configure staging disk for backup to tapes or clouds to improve fault tolerance and data streaming.

Better Fault Tolerance: When backing up to tapes, AE 3.3 can automatically withstand the failure of a tape drive. By simply configuring a backup set to be able to use more than one tape drive in your tape library, if any of the tape drives is not available, AE will automatically start using one of the available drives.

NDMP Management Improvements: AE 3.3 allows for selective restore of a file or a directory from a Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) based backup. Now, you can also recover to an alternative path or an alternative filer directly from the GUI. Support for compression and encryption for NDMP based backups has also been added to the GUI. Plus, in addition to devices from NetApp and Oracle, AE now also supports NDMP enabled devices from EMC.

Scalability, Concurrency and Parallelism: Many more operations can now be executed in parallel. For example, you can run a restore operation, while active backups are in progress. Parallelism also has been added in various operations including backup to disk, cloud and tapes.

Expanded Platform Support: Our goal is to provide a backup solution which supports all of the key platforms deployed in today’s data centers. We have updated AE 3.3 to support latest versions of Windows Server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian and OS X. With AE, you have flexibility of choosing the platforms best suited for each application in your environment – without having to worry about the backup infrastructure.

Want to Learn More?

There are many new enhancements to leverage! To help you dive in, we hosted a live demonstration of Amanda Enterprise 3.3. The session provides insights on best practices for setting up a backup configuration for a modern data center.

Zmanda Recovery Manager for MySQL - What’s New in Version 3.5

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

As we continue to see MySQL being implemented in bigger and more challenging environments, we are working to ensure Zmanda Recovery Manager for MySQL (ZRM) matches this growth and provides a comprehensive, scalable backup management solution for MySQL that can easily integrate into any network backup infrastructure.

The latest release of ZRM for MySQL is a significant next step, bringing disk space and network usage optimization and enhanced backup reporting, along with simplified management to help configure backups quickly and intelligently.   Additionally, ZRM for MySQL 3.5 now supports backup of MySQL Enterprise Edition, MySQL Community Edition, SkySQL, MariaDB, and MySQL databases running on latest versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu and Windows – giving you an open choice for your MySQL infrastructure, now and in future, with confidence that your backup solution will continue to work.

Here is a look at the key updates in ZRM:

Optimization of Disk Space: We’ve implemented streaming for various backup methods so that you don’t need to provide additional disk space on the systems running MySQL servers. This will allow you to do hot backup of your MySQL databases without having to allocate additional space on the system running MySQL. Backup data will get directly stored on the ZRM server.

Optimization of Network Usage: We have implemented client-side compression for various backup methods so you can choose to compress backup data even before it is sent to the ZRM server. Of course, you also have the choice to compress on the backup server; for example, if you don’t want to burden the MySQL server with backup compression operation.

Enhanced Backup Reporting: Backup is often where IT meets compliance. ZRM allows you to generate backup reports for all of the MySQL databases in your environment. With the latest version, now you can generate unified backup reports across backup sets too.

Simplified Management: One of the key features of ZRM is that it hides nuances of particular types of backup method for MySQL behind an easy-to-use GUI, the Zmanda Management Console (ZMC). With the new release, ZMC brings new features for applicable backup methods, such as parallelism, throttling, etc. You will also find several tool tips to help you configure your backups quickly and intelligently, without having to dig through documentation on specific backup methods.

Broad Platform Coverage: MySQL gets implemented in various shapes and forms on various operating systems. We continue to port and test all variants of MySQL on all major operating system platforms. ZRM 3.5 supports backup of MySQL Enterprise Edition, MySQL Community Edition, SkySQL and MariaDB. Backup of MySQL databases running on latest versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu and Windows is supported.

Seamless Integration with Backup Infrastructure: ZRM is architected for the MySQL DBAs. In order for DBAs to integrate and comply with the overall backup methodology of their corporate environment, we have made sure that ZRM can integrate well into any of the network backup infrastructures being used. While ZRM is already known to work well with almost all network backup environments, we have completed specific integration and testing of ZRM 3.5 with Amanda Enterprise, Symantec NetBackup, and Tivoli Storage Manager.

If you are putting together a new MySQL based environment, or looking to add a well managed backup solution to your existing MySQL infrastructure, our MySQL backup solutions team is ready to help: zsales@zmanda.com