Anytime an enterprise considers a new platform it has to address one particular requirement; how exactly IT will protect the new platform. If the platform promises enough value, IT may forgo that requirement and cobble together a “best efforts” data protection strategy. Customers of hyperconverged vendor Nutanix faced this exact challenge, especially as they rolled out Nutanix VMware tax liberating, Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV).
The advantage to AHV is cost. It is essentially included with the Nutanix hardware, making it a less expensive solution than either VMware or Microsoft’s Hyper-V. The cost savings doesn’t mean skimping on features. Since AHV is based on KVM, it hits the large majority of the virtualization feature checkboxes. The features it is missing compared to VMware, most organizations don’t use or can at least live without. Except one – data protection.
Nutanix AHV provides a data protection component that can perform snapshot of virtual machines and replicate those snapshots to another Nutanix cluster. There are also other data protection solutions designed to protect KVM hypervisor, but the usability of these solutions are not of the same capabilities as VMware data protection solutions.
Comtrade Software’s HYCU is the first purpose-built data protection solution for Nutanix’s AHV solution stack. Comtrade Software claims IT can deploy the solution in three minutes and then become proficient at it within an hour. HYCU leverages snapshots like the Nutanix solution, but unlike Nutanix’s implementation, it can replicate those snapshots to another NAS, Object Storage System or a public cloud provider like Azure or AWS.
Introducing HYCU 2.0 – Now With VMware Protection
Nutanix reports that about 25% of its customer base is now using AHV, but of course, that means that 75% of its installed base does not. In its latest release, version 2.0, Comtrade Software adds VMware support to HYCU. Now HYCU appeals to 95% of the Nutanix customer base.
Once again, HYCU leverages Nutanix snapshot capabilities to capture the VM, but it captures the VM without “stunning” the VM. A stun essentially pauses the VM for a brief moment while the Nutanix storage software takes the snapshot. While the stunning process does deliver a clean backup of the VM, it limits when and how often it makes a backup copy since a VM stun impacts performance and user response times.
In 2.0 Comtrade Software also expanded HYCU’s application coverage to include Microsoft SQL, Active Directory and Exchange. It provides application, agentless backup of each. For Active Directory and Exchange, it provides granular recoveries like mailbox-level recovery.
Acropolis File Services (AFS) is another capability of AHV that is very interesting to customers. It has the potential to eliminate another silo in the data center, the file server/NAS, and converge it into the Nutanix cluster. AFS is a software-defined scale-out NAS that runs within the Nutanix cluster. Once again, though, the challenge is how to protect AFS.
In Q1-2018 HYCU’s next major initiative will be to protect AFS. HYCU will follow its similar pattern of impact-free, agentless backup but now focus on files instead of VMs. Backups of AFS will execute in parallel for rapid backups and, of course, all wrapped around the same easy to use interface.
The problem that most emerging companies have is they want to focus on everything. Our constant guidance is to focus on one thing or at least just a few things. Comtrade Software took the focus concept to an extreme, by starting out with a data protection solution that just protected AHV. Starting small and playing it safe is especially important in the data protection market. Comtrade Software’s focus on AHV and then, as it proved itself, gradually moved to VMware protection not only benefits Nutanix customers but is also something that other emerging companies can learn from.