Refining The Virtualized Backup Process – NAKIVO Briefing Note

The backup software market is very mature. Even virtualization specific backup software solutions have been available for over 10 years. But there is still work to do. In some cases, new releases are taking advantage of new technologies elsewhere in the environment. In other ways the new releases are simply filling gaps that should have been filled in before. In still others, they are listening and responding to user feedback to present backup information in a more rapidly consumable way.

The Workhorse NAS as a Backup Appliance

One of the changes to the IT environment is the emergence of the workhorse NAS. These are systems designed to be an affordable file share for the small to medium sized business. What makes them different than some of the high end solutions like those from EMC and NetApp is they don’t try to make themselves into more than they are. The are file servers pure and simple. And they provide the file sharing features an organization needs at a very affordable price.

These systems also make for excellent backup storage devices. In most cases, this means the backup software runs on a separate server and then copies the data across the network to the NAS. The problem with that approach is that first data has to be copied from primary storage across the network to the backup server and then the backup server has to copy the data across the network to the NAS, resulting in two network hops and a lot of wasted backup window.

A better solution would be to run the backup software directly on the NAS. Most of these workhouse NAS are, at their core, Linux based servers. One of the value adds of the hardware vendor it to mask the complexity of Linux from the administrator. But the NAS could clearly run other applications – like backup software. NAKIVO Backup and Replication supports QNAP, Synology and Western Digital NAS systems and in version 7.2 it adds support for the Asustor NAS.

Asustor is a division of Asus, and the Asustor NAS product range from solutions for home to medium sized businesses. In the business family, the product starts with the AS7004T, a four-drive NAS with support for NFS and SMB. The product line scales all the way to the AS7012, a iSCSI/NAS solution with support for 12 drives and even 10GbE network connectivity.

MS-SQL – Protecting The Heartbeat of Medium to Large Business

While Oracle may dominate the enterprise, there is little doubt medium to large-sized business count on MS-SQL to run their businesses. The criticality of MS-SQL means that the backup solution needs fully support it. Online, consistent backup of MS-SQL is essential for backup software vendors today. They also need to make sure they help keep the MS-SQL environment efficient. For example, MS-SQL tracks all database transactions and records them into transaction logs. If there is a failure, these logs can be “re-played” to bring the database back to a current state. But once the database is backed up the logs aren’t needed any more.

As part of the backup process, the backup software should use the Microsoft Log Truncation feature to automatically remove the transaction log files after a successful backup or replica is made. If logs aren’t managed, they can grow large and fill up the storage systems they are on or corrupt themselves. In version 7.2, NAKIVO supports transaction log truncation after it makes a successful backup or replica of the MS-SQL instance.

Another reality of the modern MS-SQL database is they have grown quite large. And if there is a corruption or accidental change restoring the whole SQL environment to correct a small error is time consuming and may actually create other problems. Ideally, just the smallest possible component needed should be restored. NAKIVO in 7.2 added instant object recovery which allows granular recovery of SQL objects like databases and tables back to the source SQL or even a different server directly from the deduplicated and compressed VM backups.

Easier Backup Administration

It is increasingly rare to find an IT professional dedicated to the backup process. In most cases administrators have multiple hats to wear and backup is just one of the items on their to do list. Given that reality vendors need to make it easier to quickly scan the GUI for the information they need and provide increase flexibility in how the product is used.

NAKIVO 7.2 adds a calendar dashboard. That graphically shows and administrator all of the backup jobs on a calendar interface, just like they would view meetings or task. It is brilliant in its simplicity. With this view the administrator can see all of their jobs and the job’s duration, enabling them to quickly find free slots in a backup window.

Another point of frustration for administrators is job flexibility. Sometimes an application needs protection differently on some days than on others. For example, during the week it might make sense to protect your MS-SQL server every 30 minutes. But on the weekend it may only need protection a few times a day.

The solution for job flexibility for many backup solutions is to create separate jobs which adds complexity. NAKIVO 7.2 adds the ability to add multiple schedules to the same job. An administrator can set up a during the week schedule and a weekend schedule.

StorageSwiss Take

Backup software and even virtualization specific backup software has been on the market for a long time. NAKIVO was founded in 2012 and is now on its seventh major version of the product. They also have one of the more iterative development processes in the industry. It seem like every three months they are adding new features to the solution.

The 7.2 release is a good example. The additions expand the software use case, improve protection of a business mainstay (MS-SQL) and make the administrator’s life easier. For VMware or HYPER-V shops looking to bring down the price of the data protection process while gaining capability, NAKIVO deserves a hard look.

Sponsored by NAKIVO

About NAKIVO

NAKIVO is a US corporation that develops a fast, reliable, and affordable data protection solution for Hyper-V, VMware, and AWS environments. NAKIVO Backup & Replication v7 native Hyper-V backup and replication. VM backups can be easily copied offsite or to AWS/Azure clouds by backup copy jobs. Over 10,000 companies are using NAKIVO Backup & Replication to protect and recover their data more efficiently and cost effectively. Visit www.nakivo.com to learn more.

Eleven years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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