Zmanda 4.2: Going to the Code Level of a Backup Release That Safeguards Against Ransomware Attacks

Zmanda 4.2 | Backup| Recovery| Enterprise backup| ransomware| immutable backups

We know you love Zmanda. Let us take you backstage and walk you through the lifecycle of this new and leapfrogging release: brainstorming, planning, executing and launching. You will get a peek into the inner workings like never before.

Before we start talking about the great moments in the creation of this update, let us clear the air first. Why should you upgrade to Zmanda 4.2? Well, it brought with it some exciting new features like immutable backups to protect against ransomware attacks and global exclusion policies to remove the need for repetitive and manual exclusion of files, bulk actions setup utility enabling faster and seamless backup, protection against security vulnerabilities, and wider compatibility with RHEL 9, Rocky Linux 9, Debian 11, and Windows 11 operating systems. Check out our release blog to learn more about these features.

Now that you have read about these incredible features. Let’s get started and walk you through every step that leads to a release.

A Constantly Developing Development

At Zmanda, where does product development stop? The truth is, when you are dealing with technology, you never stop working on the next iteration of a product, even if it is as great as Zmanda. The management team and the development team work closely together, taking inputs from the customers, as well as looking ahead of the curve by interpreting the trends in technology, to anticipate what our customers might need to have in a great enterprise backup and recovery solution. 

As ideas were bounced back and forth, among other things, one that caught immediate attention was future-proofing Zmanda against ransomware attacks, which are on an alarming rise of over 80% year-over-year (ZScaler). It only takes one employee to click on one malicious link or email to breach an entire system. The Development team also decided to upgrade everything related to Python to remove vulnerabilities in the stack. This was planned to ensure sustainable benefits and security enhancement to the users. Also, analysing the customer feedback illustrated the need for Global Exclusion Policies for Linux Backup, wherein they could permanently exclude specific files or folders from backups repeatedly. This not only saves time but also the backup space at the user’s end.

A Well Established Target

Whenever a new release is planned, there has to be a delicate balance between the features being added and time to market, that is, how quickly and timely the new release can reach the end user. This clarity is paramount for the Development team to prioritise activities. There are some long-term features that are already in the works and there are some which are freshly planned to be incorporated in every release. This time around, with added functionalities, the development team decided to throw in a delightful convenience for the users in form of a new setup utility that can add Zmanda Sources, Backup Sets, Schedules, Storages, and Backup Servers in bulk with a single operation. 

In the words of Somesh Kumar, Scrum Master: ‘The team was spread across geographies and time zones, yet there was a cohesiveness, driven by the zeal to produce an unmatched product, which was hard to match even in teams working under one roof. This is our strength.’

Pursuit of Perfection

After months of hard work, the development team came up with a product update. To keep the user experience impeccable, the upgraded product goes to the Quality Assurance team. They put it through a series of rigorous tests using tools like Zephyre Scale for drafting test cases and execution, and Selenium Web Driver and Eclipse for automation. This is a particularly high-stress time for everyone because it is the moment of truth for the development team. Everyone is curious: does it work exactly the way it was planned?

Kiran, the QA manager says ‘Some would have you believe that the QA team is a bunch of heartless folks who are impossible to please. It can’t be further away from the truth. When you are about to create a cutting-edge product, every possible use-case test matters. Feedback and change cycle between the Dev Team and QA Team ensure that. Perfection is never accidental.’

An Interface that is User Friendly

While the Dev team and QA team were working on the core code and functionalities, manipulating strings of zeros and ones, the design team and the content team started working on the wireframes of new web pages and user interfaces to work with the new release. The wireframes, though intricate in themselves, were just a starting point. The colours, the placement, the language of the content, it all has to be in confluence. A well-designed Zmanda features page finally emerged after long discussions between the Dev team and the marketing team. It not only focused on the newly added features in detail and informed the users how it would impact their experience, it also presented it in a way that made the interaction seamless.

‘Backend is where the genius lies, no question there. But the frontend reflects the understanding of human behaviour. We are the bridge between the cold code and the human end user.’ says Karan Kowshik, UI/UX Design Lead.

Crafting a Complete Correspondence

Most of our users are busy people and they have a ton of things to take care of on a daily basis. It becomes tricky to grab their attention and inform them about what to expect from the next iteration of our product. This task required a delicate balance between remaining in the shadows and becoming a spammer. The content and marketing team strategically designed press releases and social media outreach campaigns in anticipation of the launch. Everything had to come together like a well-wound Swiss Watch. Each communication was checked for completeness of the message, its tone and accuracy. There is only one thing worse than no communication: it is imprecise communication. A well-timed blog, post or email can make all the difference between an exciting launch and a launch that slipped behind the curtain. The team remained alert in gauging the impact of their communications and made on-the-fly changes when needed.

‘This is a crucial moment for the marketing team. We have to craft each correspondence in a way which is technically astute yet in a language which is easily comprehended by our users. We colour vibrantly, always within the lines.’ says Madhumitha Lakshmanan, Content Marketing Lead.

The Clock Resets – Again

Finally, the moment arrived. We pulled a high-octane release and got to say the words which were music to our ears:

Zmanda 4.2, meet the world. World meet Zmanda 4.2.

However, the excitement never ends here at Zmanda. We have just launched a power-packed upgrade: Zmanda 4.2 and yet the idea mills never stopped churning. The work is already underway on some amazing features like the introduction of class-leading deduplication which will save your money, the Global Exclusion List feature on Windows OS; expansion of client compatibility to Fedora 35 and Fedora 36, server compatibility enlarged to include new operating systems and many more.

Everything that we do here at Zmanda is done with you at the center of our thought process. Your convenience and security keep us aiming higher and higher in terms of our product development. We wanted you to feel this passion and commitment, thus this article came into existence. We hope you feel the same excitement while using our product that we feel while creating it.

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