Data Protection for Hyperconverged Infrastructure

With the constant evolution of the software-defined datacenter landscape, the latest trend, undoubtedly, is towards converged platforms – namely, hyperconverged and superconverged infrastructure. At the heart of hyperconvergence is the idea of consolidation – that is to combine virtualization, compute, storage, networking, backup and disaster recovery, and high availability in to a unified scale-out appliance-based model.

The adoption rate of converged platforms is on the rise due to numerous benefits that it has to offer. First of all, managing a converged datacenter is greatly simplified by a central management console which allows for configuring, fine tuning and monitoring the various consolidated layers from a single pane of glass. This in turn reduces the complexity of dealing with siloed components, hence freeing up IT administrator’s time to focus on innovating and delivering better business outcomes. Additionally, scaling out a converged infrastructure is easily achieved by adding nodes (appliances) to the cluster. Furthermore, converged environments typically reduce the overall datacenter footprint that results in lower cost of running these systems. These benefits ultimately help organizations reduce Total Cost of Ownership of their datacenter equipment, which is a high priority goal for businesses today. But…

Do converged solutions provide the best-of-breed technology across the stack?

This is a topic of much debate and discussion, but what I would like to touch on specifically is around the backup and recovery portion of a converged solution.

Although Backup and Recovery is a built-in feature of most converged solutions, prospects need to be aware of its pitfalls. I have been part of quite a few successful infrastructure refresh projects involving converged solutions, and I can say from experience that businesses should look in to investing in separate Data Protection solutions, and here are some of the main reasons why:

  1. Backups on a converged platform is stored on its local disk, which is far more expensive than if it were to be stored on a backup solution storage. This frees up converged storage for production workloads rather than for backups.
  2. Built-in Backup and Recovery technology at best can provide Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) aware snapshots; if application-aware backups are required for Sybase, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle, and the likes – then look at standalone backup solutions that can specifically fulfill those requirements.
  3. Most converged solutions cannot backup to tape – if your organization is heavily invested in tape libraries, or if tapes are required for compliance/long-term retention purposes, you are better off with a standalone backup solution.
  4. Granular restore requirements for single file, Exchange emails, SharePoint site documents, SQL tables, etc. is very limited to non-existent in the built-in Backup and Recovery solution.
  5. A standalone backup solution will provide much better and comprehensive reporting and notifications around backup related jobs and failures.
  6. Options for offsite replication of backups are limited in a built-in solution, whereas, a standalone backup solution can provide wide-ranging replication options – one-to-many, many-to-one, multi-hop, replication and restore to public/private/managed cloud to name a few.
  7. In a some cases, there are physical servers running legacy applications that cannot be migrated to the converged solution, this is where a standalone backup solution will come in handy.
  8. A standalone backup solution provide definitive logical separation between the production systems and backup storage, which makes it easier to encrypt backups to protect against threats like ransomware.

To conclude, although most converged solutions provide built-in backup and recovery capabilities, there are a number of situations where it becomes necessary to invest in a standalone Data Protection solution to make sure the Backup and Recovery requirements for an organization is met wholistically.

Quest Software offers a wide portfolio of Data Protection solutions that can meet the most stringent backup and recovery requirements. The options include Integrated Backup Appliances (DL4300) as a turnkey solution, Purpose Built Backup Appliances (DR series), and standalone software solutions (Rapid Recovery, NetVault Backup, and vRanger Backup & Replication).

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