For most organizations, backup and recovery is their most fragile process. Any change in the environment can cause the entire data protection house of cards to come crashing down around the well-intentioned IT professionals that run it. The problem is not just that the data protection process touches almost every corner of the data center; it is there are so many components to that process from a variety of different vendors.
Considering the variables involved, it is a miracle the process ever works, let alone works consistently, and that is why most organizations score their confidence in recovery so low. Instead of bolting on legacy solutions, which further increase complexity, increasing recovery confidence may require a fresh new approach.
Step 1 – Consolidate Software and Hardware
Most data protection solutions today comprises two distinct components; the backup software and the backup hardware. The software moves data from production storage to backup storage. It also manages critical factors like ensuring the online backup of applications, as well as locating protected data when necessary, and rapid data recoveries. Data protection hardware typically focuses on cost-effectively storing data for an extended time frame. Ironically, other than the move from tape to disk, most data protection hardware solutions have not invested in making sure that the recovery process is fast.
While some backup software vendors have come out with backup appliances, these solutions are typically just pre-installed versions of their software on a set piece of hardware. There is seldom any optimization for leveraging those aspects of that hardware.
IT needs a new approach; one that more seamlessly integrates backup hardware and software into a single solution where the software takes full advantage of the hardware and creates an environment specific to data protection. It is essential this solution does not try to “reach too far” and also try to solve such problems as home directory storage and long-term archiving.
If the data protection software creates its own hardware platform, it will look very different from today’s solutions. First, it would obviously be scale-out in nature, but scale-out not just to solve capacity issues but also to leverage additional compute so the data protection solution can deliver additional services.
Step 2 – Increase Performance and Speed
The data protection solution would also ensure that the hardware can deliver the performance required to execute such functions like recovery in place (boot from backup). The right combination of hardware and software enables the data protection solution to eliminate, almost entirely, the need for specialized high availability software.
Step 3 – Support Cloud Natively
Lastly, the data protection solution would also embrace the cloud, instead of ignoring it like most legacy data protection solutions do. While legacy solutions often see the cloud as a threat, modern solutions see the cloud as an enhancement. For example, most legacy backup solutions, if they support the cloud at all, only use cloud storage to hold an additional copy of data.
True cloud support not only means using the cloud as a DR copy of backed up data but also includes the ability to archive data to the cloud to limit the growth of on-premises protection storage. It should also include the ability to leverage the cloud for disaster recovery by instantiating applications in the cloud. Finally, it should also include the ability to use the cloud to host a version of the data protection application and its storage software, which enables the protection of cloud applications and allows it to be an ideal replication target for on-premises data.
Rubrik – Data Protection’s Confidence Builder
Rubrik is not only redefining data protection, it is also redefining rapid development. In early 2015, it started as a Hybrid Cloud Backup and Recovery solution, and now within three years the company is already at version 4.1, which includes features like multi-cloud support, object storage support, auto-protection and cloud replication. It has evolved from an excellent little VMware data protection solution to a robust enterprise solution that protects multiple hypervisors and physical systems.
Rubrik has almost too many capabilities to describe. An organization can start by using the solution to protect its virtual server infrastructure (including Nutanix Acropolis) and expand the use case to protecting physical systems. In addition, Rubrik supports backups of databases such as Oracle and MS-SQL. The company recently acquired Datos IO to expand into backup and recovery of NoSQL databases such as MongoDB and Cassandra.
Rubrik’s Cloud Support
Rubrik fully leverages the cloud as well using its CloudOn feature. Rubrik can use cloud storage to store a DR copy of data, or it can use it as an archive. Rubrik leverages cloud compute to instantiate applications for test/development or in the event of a disaster (or a DR test). In other words, a virtual machine can be converted into a cloud instance. For applications running in the cloud, Rubrik software can be instantiated to deliver backup and recovery. The organization can also use this Rubrik “cloud cluster” as a replication or archive target, in addition to protecting cloud-hosted virtual machines.
Customers can use Rubrik’s CloudOn to perform “lift & shift” full cloud migrations as well as various test/dev use cases (application upgrades, architecture modifications, trying out new cloud native services like RDS, etc).
Rubrik is one of the few solutions that support multiple cloud tiers. It provides the typical Amazon S3 support and it supports Glacier for the long-term retention of backups at very cost-effective prices.
For organizations looking to upgrade their data protection capabilities, Rubrik deserves serious consideration. The company has made incredible progress since its launch and now delivers an extremely robust, enterprise-class data protection solution. Companies looking to improve their on-premises data protection capabilities plus be in a position to fully exploit the cloud without lock-in should put Rubrik on their short list.