Embracing SaaS for Multi-Cloud Data Protection
Modern cloud workloads exist across heterogeneous, multi-cloud infrastructures, but the cloud services that host them lack rich, native data protection toolsets. While snapshot features typically exist in the cloud they are not automated and have to be manually managed. As a result, they are typically managed and executed via scripts.
The lack of snapshot automation and management results in snapshot proliferation, which quickly becomes expensive and cumbersome to manage. It also adds complexity to the recovery process because users are not sure which snapshot is the “right” snapshot. These challenges exist in single cloud instances, and when an organization goes multi-cloud it exacerbates the problems.
A software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach can to address these pain points. It can introduce single-pane-of-glass visibility, control and management across multi-cloud environments, without the need for additional investment in on-premises infrastructure. Avoiding additional hardware investment can reduce costs and complexities, for example by automatically and globally applying security updates. The SaaS model has the potential to be a more agile and scalable model, and it can introduce self-service capabilities for administrators and users.
Dell EMC Cloud Snapshot Manager
Dell EMC’s Cloud Snapshot Manager (CSM) is a SaaS tool for leveraging snapshots to backup and recover workloads running in multi-cloud environments. The platform plugs into underlying cloud providers’ snapshot technology (with AWS and Microsoft Azure currently supported) and creates a centralized portal for managing and orchestrating key disaster recovery capabilities. Notably, CSM enables automation of snapshot discovery, orchestration and management, copying of snapshots across regions for disaster recovery, and it provides multi-tenancy. CSM requires zero hardware for installation, and the REST API interface allows CSM to plug into the cloud providers’ native snapshot tools so that users don’t need to create new runbooks or make other changes.
Specifically, CSM adds tag-based, user-defined policy management for automatic discovery of cloud instance (VM, Storage, DBaaS), for creation and deletion of snapshots, and for resource-specific protection service level agreements (SLAs). The tagging is flexible – for example, stricter policies can be defined and applied for files with personally identifiable information (PII), or for finance and human resources teams. These policies might dictate that certain VMs only be replicated from a certain region, in order to comply with data sovereignty regulations, for example.
CSM enables one-click recovery of VMs, according to Dell EMC, and provides a number of flexible recovery options. Users may recover at the virtual machine (VM) level in Microsoft Azure or at the cloud instance level in AWS. Group restores of many VMs are possible, as are granular file-level recoveries. Recoveries may occur within the same or an alternate availability zone. In the case of AWS, snapshots may be replicated to other regions for disaster recovery purposes. EC2 instances, EBS volumes and AWS RDS databases are all supported. Instance dependencies and configurations are all preserved, and restores can be application consistent.
CSM includes multi-tenancy and self-service capabilities whereby multiple accounts may be created so that users may manage and protect their own AWS and Azure accounts under IT oversight. Currently, multiple users on a CSM account have the same privileges, and Dell EMC will be adding the ability to support multiple users with different privileges per account. The tool provides audit logging and visibility into health of backups across accounts and clouds.
Infrastructure and copy data sprawl is a real pain point as enterprises migrate to multi-cloud architectures. It adds expense and causes confusion during the recovery process. In fact, many enterprises do not even have holistic visibility into all of the snapshots that are being created and stored. Enterprises require the visibility and control over backups and disaster recovery processes that they have on-premises, but traditional third-party tools don’t provide the centralization and scalability that is required. Additionally, they may add expense in the form of investment in additional infrastructure.
Dell EMC CSM’s policy engine is one of its biggest differentiators. The ability to set policies for snapshot retention and automatic deletion can result in cost savings and improved regulatory compliance. It also greatly simplifies the process of applying global or application-specific protection plans across multiple cloud environments. In being SaaS based, it is automatically scalable – helping enterprises to more seamlessly and cost-effectively oversee their data protection processes, and at the same time offering a lower-cost approach to supporting business growth for smaller businesses.