Data Protection at Edge 2014

by Administrator on April 22, 2014

Preamble:  The FTC requires that I disclose a fiduciary relationship with IBM in connection with Edge 2014.  I will be blogging from the show, both in text and video, and actively tweeting my thoughts about what I see and hear.  Apparently, anything I write about the show is considered compensated work, even though IBM does not see it or have any say over its content. 

Disclosure complete. 

I will also be delivering, in exchange for a pass to the show, five sessions at TechEdge.  I probably could have gotten the pass just by playing journalist, but what the heck:  I like doing stand-up!

One of my sessions, as noted in a prior blog post, covers Software Defined Data Centers and the inherent need for Disaster Recovery Planning – this, despite the hype from the SDDC crowd about high availability trumping DR.  I beg to differ.  We can discuss my views on Wednesday 21 May from 4:30 to 5:30PM in Lido 3105 at the Venetian.

Another session will discuss how the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) is giving tape a renewed role in the data center.  That talk is scheduled for Monday, 19 May, from 4:15 til 5:15 in Murano 3305.  I have dedicated quite a bit of copy to this topic at IT-SENSE.org and included a multi-part video interview I shot with IBM’s LTFS wise guys at last year’s Edge.  I am looking forward to updating my interviews with these guys at the upcoming show.

The final three sessions are on the subject of data protection, discussing data vulnerabilities, technologies for making data copies, and considerations for selecting the right technologies to protect your data.  It updates a seminar series I delivered in a dozen cities last year to good reviews.  I think the series is important enough to merit a self-serving shout out.  Here are the dates:

  • Part I is on Tuesday 20 May from 10:30 to 11:30 in Murano 3305
  • Part II is scheduled for Wednesday 10:30 to 11:30 in the same room.
  • Part III is on Thursday, same Bat Time same Bat Channel.

Why three sessions on this topic?  Simple.  I am increasingly concerned about the failure of companies to adequately protect their irreplaceable data assets.  The woo from the virtualization/cloud/software-defined crowd holds that server virtualization, with its template cut-n-past (vMotion) capability, “builds in” high availability.  Therefore, disaster recovery planning is no longer needed.  Some people are buying it.

No.  Really.  They are.

At the server layer, this is an oversimplification, and in my experience, a bit of prevarication.  Automatic subnetwork-level failover doesn’t work consistently or predictably in my VMware environment.  (I know, I am just doing something wrong and need to buy $25K of VMware certification training or something.)  Moreover, not all of the data required for application reinstantiation is included in the virtual machine file; app data needs to be replicated on an on-going basis too.

But where should I replicate the app data?  To every DAS array connected to every server kit that might possibly host my virtual machine?  Really?  Perhaps that explains why IDC and Gartner project 300-650% year over year capacity demand jumps in highly virtualized server environments.

Moving outside the data center and into the cloud, we see the same problem writ larger.  Cloud Endure is giving great insights in their marketing woo right now:  to move workload from one cloud to another requires a lot of extra contextual data besides workload descriptions and app data.  Go watch one of their webinars.

Bottom line:  the “built-in continuity capability is better than a bolted-on one” argument that the hypervisor peddlers are using doesn’t match reality.

Data protection requires a “business-savvy” strategy that matches the right protection services to the right data based on the application that the data supports and the business process that the application serves.  “Business-savvy” means that the strategies meet carefully considered recovery priorities in a readily-tested, coherently-managed, and cost-sensitive manner.

Ranting on:  There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for data protection.  Active-Active Clustering with Failover is great when it works, but it is usually also the most expensive way ever devised to protect an application and its data and is not appropriate for all applications.  Rather, we need to use defense in depth, combining different services and associating them at a granular level with the data assets we need to protect.

Sounds complex because it is.  That’s why DR guys and gals make the big bucks.

Another key obstacle to the HA clustering of everything idea is the WAN.  Go more than 70 kms over a WAN and you start to sense the latency.  This should factor into your geo-clustering strategy and your cloud strategy if you decide to use clouds for data protection.  Deltas accrue to asynchronous replication, which you must use for replication over distances greater than about 40 miles.  That can screw with your recovery point/time objectives.  And if you plan to use remote data with local servers, you are looking at delays that may accrue sufficient latency to shut down apps or databases all together.  Just getting a lot of data back from a cloud, if you use it for backup, can be problematic.  Ask the big capacity consumers of the Nirvanix storage cloud when they were given ten days or less to retrieve petabytes of data from that failing storage clouds.  Even if they had access to OC192 pipes, the nominal transfer speed would have been a whopping 10 TB every 2.25 hours…and you never see optimal transfer rates over public WAN links.

Anyway, I wouldn’t use a cloud for data protection unless they provided tape as a mechanism to return my data to me.  Almost as efficient as IPoAC (IP over Avian Carrier).  Even if the cloud service is on the up and up, their ability to deliver on their service level agreement depends on the WAN, which is not typically under their control.

Anyway, those are just a few themes and memes we will explore in those three sessions on Data Protection that I will be doing at IBM Edge 2014.  Your alternatives to my data protection sessions at TechEdge are a broad range of other interesting talks delivered by authentically smart and entertaining guys like Tony Pearson.  Or, you abandon all care about risk and lose some money at the tables in the Venetian.  Your call.

Anyway, I hope to see you at Edge 2014.  Here’s where I point you to IBM’s page where you can register to attend.  (The compensated part of this post, I guess.  But, I still hope to see you there!)

Edge 2014 Venetian

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IBM Edge 2014 On The Radar

by Administrator on April 22, 2014

I am busily preparing for my week-long adventure at IBM Edge 2014 in Las Vegas.  I will be there from May 19 through May 23 mostly attending the show and hanging out at the Social Media Lounge, but also teaching a few sessions at Tech Edge.

One thing I am keen to pursue is Big Blue’s intentions and strategies with respect to the so-called “software-defined data center.”  I have been writing and speaking on this subject in several venues recently and just delivered a piece on the subject to Enterprise Systems Journal.  An extract…

[S]oftware-defined data centers are supposed to be something new and, more importantly, a sea change from traditional data centers.  I have been researching this supposed change for a few months and, slow learner that I am, I don’t see it.

Software-defined servers, essentially a server kit running a hypervisor to achieve a form of abstraction to enable workload to move from box to box as needed for resource optimization, sort of makes sense.  However, this virtualization/abstraction is nowhere near as resilient as mainframe LPAR-based virtualization and multi-tenancy – Big Iron, after all, has had 30 years to work out the bugs in such strategies.  Yet, to hear the SDDC advocates talk, Big Iron is old school and not fresh enough to fit with contemporary concepts of server abstraction.

Then there is the software-defined network.  This notion of separating the control plane from the data plane in network hardware to create a unified controller that simply purposes generic networking boxes to route packets wherever they need to go looks interesting on paper.  However, Cisco Systems just delivered an overdue spoiler by announcing that it wasn’t about to participate in an “open source race to the bottom” as represented by the OpenFlow effort:  network devices should have value-add features on the device itself, not a generic set of services in an open source controller node, according to the San Francisco networking company.  The alternative proposed by Cisco is already being submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force for adoption as an anti-SDN standard.

Finally, there is software-defined storage.  EMC is claiming this notion as its own thing, even though storage virtualization has been available from companies ranging from DataCore Software’s hardware and hypervisor agnostic software, SANsymphony-V, to IBM, with its hardware-centric SAN Volume Controller, for over a decade and a half.  In its reinvention of the idea to create “software-defined storage” we are told that those other guys are doing it wrong.  SDS is about centralizing storage services, not aggregating storage capacity so it can be parsed out as virtual volumes the way that DataCore and IBM and a few others do it today.  There is no real explanation offered by EMC for why storage virtualization doesn’t qualify as software-defined storage, but clearly the idea doesn’t fit EMC/VMware’s strategy of breaking up SANs in favor of direct-attached storage or with the still evolving VSAN shared direct attached architecture.  With all of the proprietary replication that will be required in a VSAN environment, to facilitate vMotion and HA failover, it would appear that the strategy should sell a lot of hardware.

Bottom line:  the whole software-defined data center thing looks like a house of cards that wouldn’t be able to withstand even the slightest breeze.  So, the idiots who claim that the architecture is highly available and thus obviates the need for continuity planning are pulling our collective leg.

 I will be doing a session at Edge on just this point:  the data protection requirements for burgeoning SDDCs.  And while I am at Edge, I really want to get a clear understanding of what IBM is up to in this space.

On the one hand, they seem to be keen to hold SDDC at arm’s length.  In January, eWeek reported that IBM was trying to sell off its “software-defined network” business unit, and they recently remained mum when Cisco broke ranks with OpenFlow a couple of weeks back.

For the record, I kind of agree with Cisco Systems (despite their patently self-serving play with OpFlex and their whole Application Centric Infrastructure alternative to OpenFlow) to the extent that OpenFlow SDN may well be “a race to the bottom.”  It seems to me that generic network functionality could be segregated from commodity networking devices and placed into a common service controller, assuming that the controller itself is scalable.  That said, Cisco’s point is also well taken:  they do “add value” to commodity functionality and charging a premium for that value add is the foundation for their revenues.  Without the incentive to develop service-quality-improving technology that can be blended with commodity hardware and sold at a substantial profit, Cisco will simply cease to exist (as will Juniper and others) and we will all be doomed to living within currently-defined-and-commoditized concepts of networking.  I don’t defend price gouging, of course, but I have yet to see a company create new technology without some expectation of profiting from their efforts on the back end.

Anyway, with all of the hemming and hawing over north and southbound APIs, and with all of the difficulties even defining what terms mean, I see the entire SDDC thing as an accident waiting to happen.  In the storage realm, idiots are fighting over whether software-defined storage includes storage virtualization or not.  Says one writer/pundit/analyst/blogger who shall not be named, “Storage virtualization products like IBM SVC and DataCore Software’s SS-V, aggregate capacity and serve it up as virtual volumes.  SDS doesn’t aggregate capacity, it only aggregates functionality (thin provisioning, de-duplication, replication, mirroring, snapshot, etc.).”

My question is why?  And who says so?   Why not aggregate and parse out capacity in addition to services?  Isn’t this what resource pooling – one of the three foundational components of software-defined infrastructure: abstraction, pooling, automation (remember VMware? These were in your slide deck!) – was supposed to enable?

Aggregating capacity and providing the means to deliver up virtual volumes makes all kinds of sense.  It is non-disruptive, for one thing and is certainly more efficient than physical volume allocation.  It most certainly obviates the need to do idiot infrastructure re-engineering stuff as is required by VMware with VSAN.  This insight is what made the recent Twitter-based “battle of the witless” between Chuck Hollis, EMC blogger, and Storage Switzerland on this point so amusing and so disheartening at the same time.

Bottom line:  EMC likes the SDS-is-different-than-storage-virtualization argument because it helps to sell more hardware, right?  But anyone who points that out, says Hollis, is not an independent analyst, but rather part of a vast anti-VIPR conspiracy.  Hmm…

As you can probably tell, I am trying to figure out the correct policy position around SDDC and I keep getting blitzed by the politics.  I like the idea of making data centers more agile, responsive and dynamic.  Hell, who doesn’t?  But to accomplish this goal really doesn’t require a myopic focus on virtualization, but rather a laser focus on the thing most ignored in this entire tempest in a teapot: management.

Two threads I will develop in my preso for IBM Edge:

First, I will refer everyone to some great work by IBM scientists in this paper on Quantifying Resiliency of IaaS Clouds (http://mdslab.unime.it/documents/IBM_Duke_Cloud_Resiliency.pdf).  This is a remarkable bit of scientific analysis that shows the complexity involved in delivering any set of resources and services to a business – whether from a traditional or some sort of newfangled data center.  It gets to the heart of a huge vulnerability in software-defined, the neglect of vendors for really fundamental requirements for data center service delivery – management and administrative processes.

resiliency

This becomes clear against the backdrop of NIST’s definition of a IaaS cloud.  Here is my illustration based on NIST docs…

NIST IaaS

As you can see, delivering IaaS or SDDC (same thing, IMHO) you need more than virtualized resource pools and a means to orchestrate their allocation and de-allocation, you also need a management layer, an operations layer and a service delivery layer, according to NIST.

Now, is it just me or do these additional requirements seem to suggest that service delivery is just as complex and daunting in a SDDC as they are in a traditional data center?  And given the myriad things that can go wrong to interrupt services in either, how can the software-defined crowd suggest that Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning are no longer necessary in the HA environment of a Software-Defined Data Center.  I will be first in line to call bullshoot on that idea.

My only concern is that I got an email today for the download of a paper or something, sponsored by IBM, and suggesting that SoftLayer was eliminating the need for DR.  I don’t believe that data is any safer in a cloud – especially when tape isn’t provided by the cloud service.  But that is another story.

See you in Vegas.  Registration of IBM Edge 2014 is HERE.

Edge 2014
Post Scriptum:  I have been advised that a version of this blog has been picked up by the Storage Community, for which I am grateful.  The disclaimer has been added that it is a compensated post, which I suppose it is.  I am picking up a check while at Edge for live tweeting and otherwise supporting the show with text blogs, video blogs and tweets from event venues and the Social Media Lounge.  I didn’t think this needed to be stated, but there it is.

My thought is that such a disclaimer on this post was unnecessary.  What I wrote in the paragraphs above were my own views and not approved or even cleared in advance with IBM.  But, the FTC is the FTC, I guess.  Read more about their guidelines HERE.

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Spectra and CommVault Team Up

by Administrator on April 22, 2014

Announced today, tape (and capacity no frills disk) maker Spectra Logic is teaming up with data management/protection software maker, CommVault, to deliver cooperative solutions.  I see this as a potential big win for both companies and possibly a boost for object storage, which Spectra has pioneered in the archive space with last year’s Deep Storage/Black Pearl announcements.

We interviewed then CMO Molly Rector and CTO Matt Starr about these innovations in archive at the time of the announcement and have posted the interviews in their entirety at IT-SENSE.org for those who want to understand more about their approach. Visit IT-SENSE.org today!

spectraonarchive400

Anyway, I have long followed Spectra Logic CEO Nathan Thompson’s activities over in Boulder, CO and confess an admiration of the guy for consistently going his own way with his products.  He could have outsourced all of his manufacturing and assembly, as most of his competitors did, and go with more commodity components in his kits rather than building stuff himself, but the guy strikes me as a tinkerer and his libraries are like custom, hand assembled Italian sports cars…

Well, okay.  I suppose neither T-Finity nor nTier Verde are really anything like Italian sports cars, but you get my meaning…

The CommVault thing is interesting.  Despite their earlier vision of handling all aspects of data management, CommVault seemed to be pushed year after year into the more crowded niche of data protection – snapshots, replication, mirroring, backup.  While data protection is part of data management, it is by no means the whole story.  In fact, I would argue that robust archive – both active and deep – is a prerequisite for making data protection processes cost-effective, not to mention for bending the storage capacity growth curve.

Anyway, I have recently been asked to do some speaking for both companies.  On May 1, I will be talking archive in a webinar with new CMO at Spectra Logic, Bruce Kornfeld.  Registration is HERE and I hope all of you will attend.  We are talking about the viability of disk to serve as an archive platform.  I will give my twisted viewpoint.

diskviable400

I have also been tapped to reprise my webinar speaker role for Commvault, having done a preso in first quarter for the vendor on Holistic Data Management.  Next, we will be discussing data protection in detail.  Dates are to be announced.  But, on May 20, I believe that CommVault’s path and mine will cross again as I keynote a SuperCast for 1105 Media on the subject of Data Protection in a Software Defined World.  I will post more details on both events as I get them.

So, congrats to Spectra and CommVault and best wishes for your joint success in wrangling the recalcitrant bits.

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A Software-Defined Life (SDL)

by Administrator on April 4, 2014

Jon woke up this morning, groaning from a software-defined hangover (SDH), and slipped his feet into his software-defined slippers while pulling on his software-defined robe.  5:45AM.  Later than normal, he thought.  Poor Orchestration of his virtual resources pooled for ease of deployment.  Must talk to his virtual IT department using his software-defined network when the world wakes up.

Jon moves into the kitchen and consults his software-defined pantry (SDP) to see what’s available to make for breakfast for his software-defined kids (SDK).  His head is pounding.  Time for some software-defined coffee (SDC) and some software-defined toast (SDT) while prepping the agile batter for some software-defined waffles (SDW).

The kids are not happy to be awakened.  They are grumpy bed heads, but he has software-defined love (SDL) for them anyway.  Especially the two software-defined autistics (SDA) — the son who loves the Lego Movie this week (why not, a software-defined feature film (SDFF) if ever there was one) and the daughter who jumps from bed immediately to her computer to listen to software-defined music played over anime videos on YouTube (more software-defined entertainment (SDE) fare).  The two normies are cool, but they just aren’t hip to the emerging software-defined universe that will shortly become reality for us all.

The day begins.  Another adventure in software-defined paradise (SDP).

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While We’re At It

April 3, 2014

On April 8, IBM will be livestreaming its Mainframe 50th Anniversary event that you don’t want to miss.  The mainframe hit corporate world in 1964 and changed everything.  I met my first one in 1980-ish and fell in love.  Frankly, all of the cloud stuff and the virtualization woo that I read and see today […]

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All Proposals Accepted, I’m Heading to Vegas for IBM Edge 2014

April 3, 2014

Don’t look for me at my office the week of May 19th.  I will be at IBM Edge 2014, happening at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.  Here is where you register.  They even have a great downloadable PDF providing you with the factoids you need to convince your boss to let […]

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London Calling! DR/BC for SDDC

April 3, 2014

Next week, I will be traveling to London on behalf of TechTarget to deliver a day long presentation entitled  Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery in an Era of the Software-Defined Data Center.  This is one of four session I am doing with TechTarget this year (excluding any custom work) as the company experiments with different […]

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Storage Wars VI: Return of the Storage Ecosystem

April 3, 2014

You liked the first episode of our little mash-up of Star Wars, Annoying Orange and Storage Technology — Storage Wars IV: Rise of the Virtual Tape Library…     And you responded quite favorably to our second installment, Storage Wars Episode V: Cloud Storage Strikes Back…       Now, the time has arrived for […]

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We’re Baaaaaack!

April 3, 2014

I know everyone has been missing me, but I was working very hard on a project that is now going live.  IT-SENSE.org is up and ready to go. What is IT-SENSE?  Simple.  It is a new publication from the folks who have been bringing you DrunkenData for all of these years!  It’s a new quarterly […]

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Following Up on Thursday’s Seminar in NYC

December 9, 2013

I give all attendees of my New Rules of Backup and Data Protection seminar a certificate from the Data Management Institute just for showing up.  I tell them that chicks will dig them and guys will want to be them, or vice versa, just for having this cert.  I personally print them on good stock […]

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