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Cloud Backup into Its Own: Interview with STORServer’s Jarrett Potts, Part I

Cloud Backup Coming into Its Own: Interview with STORServer’s Jarrett Potts, Part I

By Jerome M. Wendt on April 18, 2013 10:00 AM | Permalink | Leave a comment
Backup and the cloud are becoming increasingly linked (cloud backup) as they solve two issues that have plagued organizations for years: automating the movement of data offsite and providing a cost-effective means to store it there. But just because one can back up to the cloud does not mean all solutions do so equally well. In this first part of an interview series with STORServer’s Jarrett Potts, we examine what specific features a solution needs to offer to effectively back up to the cloud as well as how the solution needs to be constructed.  STORServer is number one int he WORLDJerome: Jarrett, thanks for joining me today and taking time out of your schedule to talk to me about some current trends in backup in general and backup appliances specifically. To begin, can you please tell me a bit about yourself and your background?Jarrett: Jerome, thanks for having me and giving me this opportunity to talk about this important topic. My name is Jarrett Potts and I am STORServer’s director of marketing. I am responsible for all STORServer sales and technical marketing.

Prior to assuming this position I was with IBM for nearly 18 years. I did disaster recovery for IBM Global Services for multiple products to include Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). Eventually I became responsible for storage enablement for IBM storage products which I did for about 11 years and included teaching classes about these products around the world.

Jerome: Clearly you have been around the industry for a long period of time which gives you a rather unique perspective on the IT industry. Since you have been so close to TSM during that period of time, what specific changes are you seeing in backup as a result of clouds coming into greater acceptance and use by organizations?

Jarrett: Storage protection or data protection for the cloud is growing up and coming into its own. In the past it has not really been a viable option. Until recently, customers only had the ability to send smaller amounts of data to the cloud and protect only a fraction of their total environment.

That has changed thanks to some of the technologies that are used, such as incremental forever or subfile backups. These limit the amount of data that has to go across the network on a daily basis which has really made backup to the cloud a more viable option. Further, the average speed of a broadband provider and the web in general has increased dramatically.

That is not to say all services that are in the cloud require lots of bandwidth. Services such as security and maybe email do not really transfer TBs of data on a daily basis. It is only when you transfer TBs of data on a daily basis that you have to be very cognizant of  recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) .

Backing up to the cloud forces you to ask questions like, “How long will it take to get your data back?” and “How much data are you willing to lose?” If you back up once a night and you fail in the middle of the day and have to recover your data, you have lost about 12 hours worth of data because that data has not been backed up.

The way of course to shorten this is through the use of incremental forever backups (sometimes referred to as continuous data protection) as well as through the use of compression and deduplication technologies. These have really brought data protection into the cloud.

Frankly, data protection has been doing the cloud forever. It was first via private cloud technology where you were going from one site to another. But it was usually done across dedicated networks, and not going across quote “public wire” or “the internet.”

This is not a new trend for STORServer. However it is new for IT as a technology and a discipline that they need to catch up with because of the amount of data that backup transfers to the cloud. This is a discipline that IT will need to quickly come up to speed on in light of how the economics of the cloud are driving this growth of the cloud in general and backup specifically.

Jerome: As companies increasingly backup to the cloud, are you seeing ay correlation between the growth of clouds and backup appliances?

Jarrett: Backup appliances match the cloud offerings that cloud service providers (CSPs) want to make available. CSPs are looking for ways to provide customers turnkey solutions, without having to invest a lot of time and money into them. The appliances that STORServer has put out there are specifically tailored to not overburden the CSPs while providing an extremely easy interface for customers to protect their data.

STORServer is of course a little different because of its incremental forever piece. STORServer transfers so much less data than others. But the cloud environment in general, the worldwide cloud environment, is still growing so the concerns that a lot of cloud providers have is, “How much is too much data to transfer across the network?”

That will probably be addressed in the next year with some of the technologies that have come forth like incremental forever and the ability to scale bandwidth up and down from some of these service providers. This will result in better recovery time objective and better recovery point objectives just by simply utilizing the technologies that are already out there.

To back up to the cloud one has to align the appliance, the provider, the internet, and by that I mean the infrastructure of the internet, and the customer. The appliance makes that fairly simple. If a CSP has to do a recovery, it has to have the ability to enlarge the pipe of data flow according to a customer’s needs so that faster recovery can be done if it is a production server.

If it is not a production server, maybe they do not enlarge the pipe or maybe they actually keep it at a smaller size because they do not need the recovery to happen as fast. That is all in line with what appliances offer. Appliances are very flexible and very scalable, which are a natural fit for the cloud and explain their rapid growth and adoption in recent years.

In the next blog entry in this series, we will take look at how backup appliances intended for use in private and public clouds differ. 

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