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Unique Passwords

Source: SANS security tip
Make sure each of your accounts has a separate, unique password. Can’t remember all of your passwords/passphrases? Consider using a password manager to securely store all of them for you.
Unique Passwords

Reinventing the Data Center for a Digital World: Cisco HyperFlex Systems

Source: Cisco
Successful innovators can sneak up on you. Apple’s iPhone actually followed a string of other smart phones from competitors like Nokia, Microsoft and Research in Motion (Blackberry). Nor were Google, Facebook or Netflix the first movers in their markets- or Henry Ford if you want to go further back. There were already competitors in each […]Reinventing the Data Center for a Digital World: Cisco HyperFlex Systems

Backup and storage snapshots: How they work together for the Always-On Enterprise

Source: Veeam

In today’s data center-powered world, we’ve come a long way from simple, legacy backup for data protection. The new IT business objective is Availability. Companies need to be able to recover from the loss of data, applications, systems or location with minimal or zero downtime, and that is vastly different from backup solutions of yesterday.

However, 84% of IT decision makers say there is a Availability Gap and their data centers cannot meet users’ needs of an agile, Always-On Enterprise as a result. Learn more from the Veeam Availability Report.

With modern storage, virtualization and the cloud, backup, replication and recovery all work together. This gives IT managers new levels of flexibility. Storage snapshot adoption is growing in these environments, and they play a critical role in data protection for business both large and small. Two specific objectives can be used to better define Availability:

  • Recovery time objective (RTO) is the amount of time allowed for recovery to take place
  • Recovery point objective (RPO) is the point in time the recovery should bring the business back to

Let’s look at how backup and storage snapshot technologies come together in IT operations for a combined recovery time and point objectives (RTPO) of < 15 minutes for all applications and data. This union creates the agility and responsiveness to deliver what Veeam calls Availability for the Always-On Enterprise.

Backups

Backup is a process that creates a consistent state of the application and operating system and then copies the data to a different location for safekeeping. With backup, you have an additional copy and multiple versions of a file, application, file system or other resource for use in the event of failure or loss of the original.

Veeam recommends following the 3-2-1 Rule to protect your critical data and applications. The rule states you should have at least three copies of your data, stored on two different types of media, with one copy stored outside your primary data center. When done correctly, backup operations provide long-term retention of backups for months and years with effective performance and space consumption.

Storage snapshots

Snapshots are a common way to protect data and systems. They minimize both the data traffic and the load required to create them compared to a backup. In computer systems, a storage snapshot is the state of a system at a particular point in time. Think of it as a photograph that captures a moment in time. A storage snapshot is similar: it is a point-in-time image-level view of data.

A storage snapshot does not consume any space by default when it is created. It is just a copy of the metadata that holds information about the data snapped that is used both for tracking purposes and for saving changes based on the pointer. Storage snapshots are created instantly, which means they are done within seconds. Because of that it, is very common to create lots of them to get RPOs down to minutes.

The one of the differences between a storage snapshot and a backup is that the snapshot is stored at the same location as the original data. Therefore, it depends entirely on the reliability of the source. This means that in case of a disaster or damage to the source data, the storage snapshot will be lost or inaccessible. There is no way to restore if the source gets lost. In addition, snapshots on their own do not have the means to check for corruption or restore capabilities.

Storage snapshots and backup: A powerful combination

Storage snapshots shorten backup windows considerably, and they are especially useful when you’re doing many updates because it is easy to revert the system to a snapshot.

However, storage snapshots alone are not the complete answer to bridging the Availability Gap. Even replicating storage snapshots to a secondary storage system does not avoid problems if the data is corrupted or if there is an error on the storage system. Also, there are no safeguards to protect against an administrator deleting a snapshot on the primary storage, which may trigger the deletion on the secondary storage during the next replication. Additionally, the number of storage snapshots you can create and save is limited in most scenarios.

The following table illustrates how storage snapshots and backups complement each other based on their respective strengths:

  Backup Snapshot
Better RPO ?
Better RTO ?
Consistent backups ? ?*
Corruption/Error check ?
Instantly created ?
No impact on production ?
Highly storage efficient ?
Off-site copy to external media  ?
Not data source dependent ?
Long term retention ?
Eliminates human errors  ?

*with application integrations

The best IT approach is to use storage snapshots and backups together to lower RPO and RTO down to minutes instead of hours and days — and in some cases weeks.

Veeam and storage snapshots

Veeam Availability Suite v9 leverages storage snapshot operations to multiply the value of your investment virtualization and modern storage from:

These integrations orchestrate application-consistent snapshots on a desired schedule to ensure the OS and applications are in a consistent state before the snapshot is created. These can be used for Veeam Backup from Storage Snapshots to lower the performance impact on your production environment and for restores directly from the snapshots themselves with tools like the Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots or Instant VM Recovery. Veeam On-Demand Sandbox for Storage Snapshots also allows you to uses snapshots to create a Virtual Lab environment.

Storage snapshots enable for implementing short-term data protection with very low RPO and impact on your production system, which greatly complements classic data protection with a solution like Veeam Backup & Replication. Remember that despite all the benefits storage snapshots bring to the table, you still need to be taking your production data out of the single fault domain that storage snapshots operate in, and writing it to an external (independent) storage system.

You can use these backups as long-term retention for disaster recovery, even if the primary data is deleted or becomes unusable. The backup can also be an efficient source for sending copies to the cloud or to a secondary data center to meet the requirements of the 3-2-1 Rule.

The 3-2-1 Rule

The Veeam 3-2-1 Rule defines, that you should have at least three copies of your data, stored on two different media types, with one copy located off site.

Combining modern storage, virtualization with backup and replication delivers Availability that is far beyond the rudimentary backup capabilities that keep IT professionals at organizations of all sizes up at night. Bringing together these technologies goes a long way towards meeting the continually changing business requirements for today’s modern data centers.

How has using snapshots and backups changed how your IT team delivers and protects the services that power your business?

Related information:

Backup and storage snapshots: How they work together for the Always-On Enterprise

Back up Your Files

Source: SANS security tip
Eventually, we all have an accident or get hacked. And when we do, backups are often the only way to recover. Backups are cheap and easy; make sure you are backing up all of your personal information (such as family photos) on a regular basis.
Back up Your Files

Windows 10 text-to-speech functionality speeds up internal support call recording (TechNet Radio Session)

Source: Microsoft
The Microsoft IT global internal support team uses an integrated voice recording (IVR) system to redirect users to the right queue. For recording and updating messages, the team uses Microsoft Zira, the built-in Windows 10 text-to-speech voice, which has greatly simplified the process.
Windows 10 text-to-speech functionality speeds up internal support call recording (TechNet Radio Session)

How Microsoft IT empowers Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs with an Azure data platform (Webinar)

Source: Microsoft
Jaydeep Baliram Sawant, Senior Software Engineering Manager, and Krishna Sagar, Program Manager, walk through how Microsoft IT uses Microsoft Azure data services and analytics tools to ensure that Corporate, External and Legal Affairs has an effective and scalable data platform.
How Microsoft IT empowers Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs with an Azure data platform (Webinar)

Auditing the cloud (Article)

Source: Microsoft
Are you—and your internal auditors—concerned that cloud-based services and applications could impact critical compliance activities and service certifications? As Microsoft moves to Microsoft Azure, IT and auditors work closely together, on an ongoing basis, to validate that Azure provides a fully auditable computing environment. Learn how Microsoft uses independently validated Azure services and features to simplify, automate, and operationalize corporate compliance activities.
Auditing the cloud (Article)

Tips and tricks on leveraging NetApp E-Series arrays in Veeam Availability Suite designs

Source: Veeam

The NetApp integration added in Veeam Availability Suite v8 is a great set of capabilities to ensure higher levels of Availability in the data center. In NEW Veeam Availability Suite v9, Veeam improved the functionality, adding — among other considerations — the NetApp E-Series range as a viable and high-performing backup repository SAN appliance for Veeam backup jobs. The E-Series offers a high-performance backup repository to store Veeam backup files. This, coupled with the high density of storage and the performance of recovery from an enterprise level storage array, makes the E-Series is a great fit for a SAN-based Veeam repository.

E-Series product description

NetApp has two products within the E-Series portfolio: the E-Series and the EF-Series. For the purpose of this post, I am going to touch on the E-Series only, purely because it is quite unrealistic but not unheard of for end users to require an all-flash array for backup purposes. However, the EF-Series has the same SANtricity OS as the E-Series range, so all points in the post are relevant to both products.

E2700 & E5600

Both the E2700 and the E5600 are SAN storage arrays with FC, iSCSI or SAS connectivity options, and both scale up from a capacity point of view by adding additional disk shelves. The options around disks from a controller and storage point of view are 2U with 12 disks or 4U with 60 disks. The E-Series family uses a lightweight management software called SANtricity, which has many features, including:

  • Dynamic drive rebalancing
  • RAID management
  • Intelligent cache tiering
  • Data replication

Another key feature of the E-Series array is the Dynamic Disk Pools (DDP). This technical feature enables the dynamic drive rebalancing, allowing users to grow capacity while also providing disk-level protection in case of disk failure.

The final feature I am going to mention is full-disk encryption (FDE), an enterprise feature within the storage array market and sometimes a requirement for all tiers of backup storage. The ability to encrypt at the drive level using the AES-128 bit algorithm and simplified key management gives users that level of security without an affecting performance.

Below is an example configuration:

E27**

RAW capacity = 1.2PB

Max Number of Drives = 192

E2712 = 2U / 12 Drives

E2724 = 2U / 24 Drives (SAS/SDD options only not NL-SAS)

NetApp E-Series arrays

NetApp E-Series arrays

E2760 = 4U / 60 Drives (NL-SAS, SAS, SDD options available)

NetApp E-Series arrays

E56**

RAW capacity = 2.3PB

Max Number of Drives = 384

NetApp E-Series arrays

 

Veeam Availability Suite with NetApp E-Series

Veeam delivers five key capabilities that deliver Availability for the Always-On Enterprise:

  • High-Speed Recovery: Rapid recovery of what you want, the way you want it
  • Data Loss Avoidance: Near-continuous data protection and streamlined disaster recovery
  • Verified Recoverability: Guaranteed recovery of every file, application or virtual server, every time
  • Leveraged Data: Low-risk deployment with a production-like test environment
  • Complete Visibility: Proactive monitoring and alerting of issues before operational impact

It’s clear that these two technologies are a good fit together. Let’s see how this looks end-to-end.

Backup & archive use case

NetApp E-Series arrays in Veeam Availability Suite designs

 

Regardless of the production storage in this instance, the E-Series allows for all great features from both vendors to accomplish short-term backup retention, as well as a long-term archive policy. My next post regarding the cloud-integrated appliance may have a better use case as the archive piece. The best solution really depends on the data you are backing up and where the locality of that data needs to be.

Off-premises backup or replication target

NetApp E-Series arrays in Veeam Availability Suite designs

 

Another scenario where the E-Series may fit is in an environment using FAS for production storage similar the first scenario but with Veeam’s ability to talk to the underlying NetApp FAS storage API. In this case, you’ll see a large reduction in the backup window and the hit on the vSphere production environment. The big thing to note here is that by leveraging the E-Series as the primary backup storage, you are not using the same hardware, but you are still able to work with the same technical support for all storage-related issues.

Veeam replication jobs here for fast disaster recovery (DR) SLAs without needing to invest in expensive DR storage systems. You can simply use a Veeam backup copy job for an off-site backup to another E-Series device.

Benefits of Veeam and E-Series

The fundamental reason that the NetApp E-Series is a great fit for a backup repository is because of the great improvements on the restore capabilities from Veeam when used with a storage system that can handle operations in a fast and timely manner.

The restore capabilities with the E-Series and Veeam’s ability to leverage the backup data to perform verification tasks and bring up a virtual environment for testing purposes is a huge plus for this storage system as a backup repository. With the built-in deduplication and compression engines, this allows for some powerful storage efficiencies on this block-based SAN. This decreases network traffic and the storage required for storing VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V backup files. Veeam Backup & Replication includes built-in deduplication, compression and additional data reduction techniques, including swap exclusion, BitLooker and file-selective, image-level processing.

BitLooker is a v9 feature that analyzes the NTFS master file table (MFT) to identify blocks belonging to deleted files and then automatically skips those blocks from image-level processing instead of saving those zeroed blocks into the backup image, allowing for a huge reduction in size.

Another feature of Veeam’s that increases backup performance is the new per-virtual machine (VM) backup file chains option in the backup repository settings. With this option selected, any backup job writing to this repository will store each VM’s restore points in the dedicated backup file. This enables multiple write streams within a single job with parallel processing enabled. Enabling multiple streams dramatically improves overall job backup performance.

NetApp E-Series arrays in Veeam Availability Suite designs

Availability end-to-end

As you can see, leveraging the NetApp E-Series is a great way to have end-to-end Availability for your data center. Have you leveraged the NetApp E-Series in any Veeam designs? If so, share your configuration below.

See also:

Tips and tricks on leveraging NetApp E-Series arrays in Veeam Availability Suite designs

Lenovo and Juniper Networks Announce Global Partnership

Source: Lenovo

Lenovo (HKSE:992) and Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), the industry leader in network innovation, today announced the commencement of a global strategic partnership to leverage synergies in their respective product and technology portfolios to build the next generation of converged, hyper-converged, and hyper-scale data center infrastructure solutions for enterprise and web-scale customers. The alliance reflects a shared commitment to deliver simplified, flexible, and high-performance solutions that will provide customers faster time-to-application value with reduced operating costs. 
Lenovo and Juniper Networks Announce Global Partnership