Future Proofing Data Protection: Approaching Fast!

Quantum recently announced a ‘Flexible path to Next Generation Backup and Disaster Recovery’, which dovetails nicely with my thoughts on future proofing data protection.  Quantum has created, with the help of Xerox, a way to have multi-tenant data protection at the level of the tenant and not just the cloud provider. How does Quantum and Xerox achieve multi-tenant data protection? Is the future described here? Are there any other technologies that push this envelope as well?

The simple answer is that each tenant is given its own DXi V1000 device running within its own cloud instance. Normally, the DXi is a bit of hardware and that route can be taken as well, but the DXi V1000 is a virtual appliance that is instantiated within the tenant’s own cloud appliance. Using vmPro within your local enterprise, satellite office, or other locations running VMware vSphere you could easily backup and replicate your data to the Xerox cloud targeting the tenant specific DXi V1000. In essence, the Xerox VMware vCloud ends up being a backup or replication receiver cloud when using Quantum products. The other advantage of this setup is that you can restore directly to the Xerox cloud as needed as your own tenant. In this way, the Xerox cloud becomes your hot site, completely managed by your own team. Data is sent to the Xerox cloud using source side change block and advanced block tracking tools and sized fully within your Xerox vCloud Instance. Check out the full press release: Quantum Enables Major Leap Forward for Cloud-Based Data Protection.

Normally, when you have a backup or replication receiver cloud, the cloud provider is managing the replication software as this software, even if it has per tenant constructs, such as used by Zerto. In most cases the per tenant constructs cannot be installed or managed by the tenant themselves but need to be managed solely by the cloud provider. Does any backup and replication mechanism fit the goals of the future of Data Protection?

Vendor/Product Deployment
Cross VM Application Aware Cloud Aware Multi-Tenant Backup From Anywhere Restore To Anywhere Automated Testing
Quantum Per Tenant green check1 green check green check  green check
Quest vRanger Per Cloud green check1
Veeam Per Cloud green check1 green check
Zerto Per Cloud, Connection controlled per Tenant green check1 green check2

1 Backup ‘groups’ can be defined, which in this case would be the application in question. There is no other way to predefine the application.
2 Installed per Cloud, but still requires cloud provider to be involved to provide the mechanisms to hook up to Zerto, it is not 100% under tenant control yet.

As you can see from the above table, there are still some holes in the future of data protection. Some parts are available in each of the mentioned tools, but not all parts. The hardest components I see is the management component that is at once application aware and cloud aware, so that the entire cloud instance can be properly restored, with all the inter-connections, so that when it is restored to another cloud of like type it just works. But on top of that, if we restore to a cloud of a different type, the restoration should warn me and at the same time provide alternative inter-connections. So if we move from a VMware vCloud to an Openstack cloud, once more the restoration just works. None of the tools are currently cloud aware.

Being able to deploy the tool as the tenant is a huge boost and implies the ability to backup from anywhere as well as the ability to restore to anywhere. While others claim this is possible, they still require the cloud provider to do most of the heavy lifting. It is far more desirable for the Tenant to be able to do all the work for backup and restoration. This removes the cloud provider from the picture. Yes, you need the proper tools on each side, but the control is once more in the Tenant’s hands. One should mention that while it is possible to deploy DXi V1000 yourself, the networking required to backup and restore to and from the cloud as well as the data storage needs are not that simple. The cloud provider needs to be a proper replication receiver cloud, designed and architected for the required low-latency, high bandwidth requirements. Xerox has done this with their DXi deployments. So while the tenant can manage their own backup, the cloud provider must have designed and architected for this use case.

While you can restore directly to the replication receiver cloud to run your VMs on an as needed basis, there is still the need for automated backup testing. Just checking the veracity of the image is not sufficient, it is necessary to prove the VM can be restored, but also that the application and multi-VM application still works. This form of automated testing is necessary as many backup tools depend on humans to do this testing. With the decrease in backup windows and the increase in data to be backed-up this is not possible anymore. It would take months to test a single enterprise’s backups to be sure everything worked. When you have tera- and  petabytes of data a tool to perform this testing is an absolute requirement.

While we are still approaching the future of data protection Quantum’s tool and each of the other tools furthers us along the path to application and cloud aware multi-tenant auto-testing data protection. The future is approaching quickly, are we ready?