Data Protection In The Cloud Age

What does the record turntable and a mainframe computer have in common? Plenty, according to Guy Churchward, President of EMC’s Data Protection and Availability Division. During EMC World 2014, Guy made an interesting comparison about how both the music industry and Information Technology have both undergone “waves of change” that have ushered in major technological innovations for how we consume music and for how businesses consume information. Interestingly, despite these major changes, some of the older, legacy technologies have continued to endure, even thrive, right alongside the newer platforms that were intended to replace them.

Glasshouses And Vinyl

For example, while many industry observers expected client/server infrastructure to eventually displace monolithic mainframes or mid-range computing systems, in many environments these platforms continue to manage mission critical business applications. The majority of ATM transactions, for instance, run on mainframe systems and 9 out of 10 healthcare insurance companies process transactions on mainframes. In fact, mainframes are in use by 71% of Fortune 500 companies today according to Guy. Clearly, mainframes will be here for the foreseeable future.

Like mainframes, record turntables and vinyl records have maintained a respectable niche despite the disruptive forces of CD’s, iPods and streaming music services. In 2013, 6 million vinyl records were sold representing 32% year over year growth. Obviously there are many audiophiles out there that still prefer the full sound of analogue over digitally produced music.

Legacy Innovation

To service this corner of the market, Guy’s division has been delivering a disk based backup solution for mainframe environments through their Disk Library for Mainframe (DLm) offering. The DLm enables businesses to significantly consolidate mainframe tape by “stacking” virtual tape volumes on to disk resources inside the DLm. And through its integration with Data Domain, the DLm can incorporate data deduplication to attain further backup efficiencies for local backup storage while reducing the data payload for backup information that needs to be electronically vaulted for offsite protection.

As Guy navigated down the musical spectrum, he likened the CD industry to backup and recovery software. This is actually a very apt analogy as most observers, this writer included, would have expected online purchasing venues, like iTunes, to have totally cannibalized CD sales. Not so. With 193 million CD’s sold in 2012, CD purchases are still an order of magnitude larger than online album sales.

Likewise, while backup and recovery software is something that many people would like to ignore, the demand for backup software remains robust. EMC’s revamping of their NetWorker product is an example of continued innovation in this space.

As we covered in a past briefing note, NetWorker version 8 delivers advanced snapshot management capabilities for block and file based storage systems and also features advanced integration with Data Domain, to allow for more efficient and reliable backups.

Data Form Factor Fusion

Speaking of purpose built backup appliances (PBBA), Guy compared the advent of Apple’s iPod technology with the introduction of purpose built backup systems like Data Domain and Avamar. In the same way that an iPod device enables users to tote around their entire music collection in their hip pocket, PBBA’s have enabled businesses to massively shrink their backup data footprint by deploying a combination of integrated deduplication technology. Avamar and Data Domain represent a good example of how EMC has been able to successfully integrate two seemingly disparate and overlapping solutions to provide a greater breadth of backup and deduplication capabilities into data center environments of all sizes.

Protecting the Data Continuum

To underscore how the Data Protection and Availability Division’s solution portfolio has developed broad appeal across multiple industries, Guy shifted to a discussion between himself and Stephen Manley, CTO of the Data Protection and Availability Division. Stephen hosted three separate panel-like discussions with clients: Sub-Zero, Wells Fargo and the Nielsen Corporation.

Each of these clients discussed how they were able to leverage various solutions from within the EMC portfolio to address a wide variety of business critical issues. For example, Sub-Zero was able to reduce their NDMP backup window from 72 hours to 2 hours through Avamar’s NDMP accelerator technology. Likewise, Wells Fargo reduced their NDMP backup window through Avamar.

Use Case Diversification

Interestingly, both of these clients are also protecting their legacy IBMi computing environment through the use of Data Domain PBBAs. But more importantly, these clients are finding multiple use cases in their investments, beyond the initial backup pain points they were originally trying to solve. For instance, Wells Fargo allows their database administrators to use Oracle RMAN to backup database data directly to their Data Domain infrastructure. Likewise, in addition to more efficiently managing NDMP backups, they are using Avamar change block tracking (CBT) integration with VMware vSphere to achieve very rapid backup and restore times.

as-a-Service Data Protection

By eliminating silos of backup infrastructure, these organizations are able to further advance their data center consolidation initiatives while giving their internal users more choice in terms of how they choose to protect their data assets. This is a critically important characteristic of the EMC data protection portfolio – giving organizations the ability to offer up data protection “as-a-service”.

As Storage Switzerland has covered in a past article, IT needs to start offering data protection as a service; otherwise internal users and/or external clients may go elsewhere to get their needs met. By integrating with existing operating system environments and applications ranging from mainframes and midrange platforms to open systems, VMware and Oracle (amongst many others), businesses can start to take on many of the attributes of a service provider.

Hybrid Cloud Ready Backup

For example, Avamar and Data Domain’s multi-tenancy capabilities allow organizations to provision out data protection resources securely to internal and/or external users. This helps to ensure that protection storage assets are more fully utilized and can help serve as a springboard to enable businesses to leverage the use of public cloud resources.

Guy used the analogy of musical streaming services like Sirius and Pandora to illustrate how the “as-a-Service” business model has been adopted by many music consumers. To underscore this point, Guy cited that currently 28 Million people worldwide are paying for musical subscriptions and as of fiscal year end 2003, global revenues are up 51% YoY to over $1 Billion. This presently accounts for 27% of global digital music revenues.

Current and Future State Protection

Interestingly, musical subscription revenue as a percentage of digital revenue market share was only slightly ahead of IT cloud computing market share revenues attained in that same period – 20% of overall IT spend. As we reported in our recent EMC World briefing note, Joe Tucci cited that this figure would double by the year 2020. It is perhaps for this reason, that businesses may want to begin laying the foundation for what EMC calls the “third platform” or hybrid cloud-computing infrastructure. EMC’s data protection portfolio can be leveraged to introduce third platform capabilities into the data center, while solving data growth and management challenges that are holdovers from 1st platform mainframe environments or 2nd platform, client-server computing infrastructure.

Iterative Innovation

The SVP of Shared Services from Wells Fargo stated that it is critically important to their organization that solutions deployed today, have the ability to seamlessly integrate with existing technologies as their business culture is all about mitigating risk. The fact that these offerings can be leveraged to protect data in the 3rd platform-computing infrastructure only further enhances their overall business value.

Guy responded to this sentiment by pointing out that the Data Protection and Availability Division has successfully demonstrated its ability to iteratively innovate on their offerings based on the real world needs and feedback they have received from their clients. He offered up as proof-points the various enhancements that have been introduced across the portfolio over the past year – such as secure multi-tenancy and the support for mixed backup and archiving workloads on Data Domain, the major version release of NetWorker, etc. And now, organizations can build a true end-to-end data protection continuum by implementing products like RecoverPoint and VPLEX.

Monetizing the Data Mine

Guy and Stephen wrapped up their dual EMC keynote address by bringing up the Senior Director of Global Infrastructure Architecture from the Nielsen Corporation on to the stage. Nielsen is an interesting case study as their very lifeblood is information. And with their need to retain and protect enormous volumes of data (35 PB’s today) to serve a broad cross-section of global markets, Nielsen needs to efficiently and reliably protect these assets while continuing to innovate on how they deliver this data to their clients.

Nielsen monetizes their vast trove of data assets by helping their clients identify the trends that help shape consumer buying behavior. In turn, their clients measure how well this information helps them gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Agility and Innovation

Likewise, Nielsen’s IT organization is also measured internally by how well they can make the business more agile while efficiently safeguarding their growing data assets. Nielsen’s IT team uses Data Domain and Avamar across a broad swath of use cases like remote office/back office backups, virtualization data protection and DBA driven backups. In addition, Nielsen relies on the Data Protection Advisor product to fine tune their backup operations and through its advanced reporting capabilities, demonstrate to the business IT’s overall effectiveness in efficiently protecting Nielsen’s information.

Nielsen claims that the EMC data protection portfolio enables them to simplify backup operations, even in the teeth of meteoric data growth, while meeting their internal mandate to increase business agility.

Clearly Nielsen is an organization that will be looking to exploit hybrid cloud computing to increase the speed and agility by which they deliver their information assets to their clients and the EMC portfolio will play a key data protection role in that transformation.


As Guy concluded at the end of his keynote discussion with Stephen, there is no single consumption model for listening to music just as there is no single or point solution for protecting business data. Many organizations manage information across a variety of operating system platforms, applications and data center environments – whether they are on premise, in the cloud or a hybrid of both.

Having the ability to protect information regardless of where it is on the data protection continuum – from real-time, onsite online transaction processing systems to data residing in a deep archive deployed in the cloud (and everything in between), requires a portfolio of integrated technologies. These solutions need to be able to help organizations bridge the gap between today’s mix of 1st platform mainframe and 2nd platform client-server computing infrastructures into the next wave of 3rd platform/cloud computing environments. EMC’s data protection portfolio is helping to protect data through that transformation.

EMC is a client of Storage Switzerland

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As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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3 comments on “Data Protection In The Cloud Age
  1. […] this article, the authors discuss different possibilities for data protection in the cloud. In conclusion, they […]

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  3. […] we discussed in our recent article, “Data Protection In The Cloud Age”, the evolutionary changes that have taken place in information technology can be likened to the […]

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