Backup And Recovery Options Proliferate With New Storage Director
December 5, 2016 Dan Burger
You just escaped from a meeting on IT objectives and your backup strategy took a beating. Slow, inefficient, antiquated, completely lacking a recovery plan were just some of the stones that were thrown. So, what’s your next move? One option is virtual tape backup. If high speed, multiple server and multiple storage technology capabilities, and a redundant data recovery strategy sound good. Storage Director from Tributary Systems deserves investigation.
Storage Director was recently updated to include policy-based tiering of data storage with capabilities to replicate data to a separate site or multiple sites–both on premise and off premise–that have object-storing capability. Its underlying SUSE Linux operating system was also enhanced with security features that allow OS upgrades on the fly.
One of the notable attributes that Storage Director offers, which differentiates it from similar storage products, is that it was designed to be policy based, which means policies can be applied to different data sets allowing them to be sent to specific storage repositories. That feature is not new, but it has been enhanced to tiered layers in cloud storage. The tiers relate to the criticality of the data and how likely it is to be recovered. Data that is less critical is less likely to be a high priority to recover and is, therefore, less costly to store, with a cloud provider being one option for that storage. Data that is frequently restored resides in its own Storage Director cache, or backed up where ease of access is assured.
“We now have the capability to securely vault or replicate data to any public or private object-storage cloud,” says Tributary’s CEO Shawn Sabanayagam, as he explains how Storage Director v5 has been enhanced since it was introduced a year ago. “We have multi-endpoint cloud vaulting capability and we can back up applications on multiple platforms (not a new feature, but a unique feature). Customers decide which data stays in pools that are frequently accessed, which data can be archived, and which data goes to deep archive.”
When devising a backup strategy, factors to consider is the number of days of backup that needs to remain on premise and how many layers of storage are required to protect the data while providing reasonable recovery times for data sets graded from most important to least important. Sabanayagam suggests two or more layers in the cloud can be considered with an eye toward cost effectiveness, but tape or disc backup might be a better fit, depending on individual preferences and perceived risk. Circumstances might dictate three days of data on prem or maybe three weeks of data on prem. What’s not on prem becomes a decision about what storage is safe, how much it will cost, and what delivers the best performance.
“As long as the data is kept local, the performance will be equal or better than an attached tape drive,” says Glenn Grundstrom, vice president of software development at Tributary. “That’s the reason you want to have some local cache that will give you fast restores for data when you need it. Then there’s the offsite requirement for those who have a DR plan. The idea of putting data into cloud storage is cost effective and allows Storage Director to be useful to smaller companies. A single IBM i server in a company that is required to have an offsite location for its data is still cost effective.”
Tributary begins the pricing for Storage Director around $12,000.
A tighter integration with the newest SUSE kernel gets credit for boosting security on the latest iteration of the Linux-based virtualization software that underlies Storage Director. Provisions for quick patches are one of the important reasons. Before Storage Director was updated to the latest Linux OS one year ago, when v5 became available, patches required a lag time for testing. It could amount to weeks or even months. In the banking industry, for instance, there’s a hyper sensitivity to passing audits and responding to specific malware threats. Response times that take weeks or months are sure to get the evil eye that precedes a non-compliant (at risk) audit.
“We want to stay ahead of any security risks and not be flagged in security audits,” Grundstrom says. “We have to be concerned about security, not necessarily on iSeries, but on other platforms running mission critical applications. Timing of patch releases is often a sticking point. Previously it required testing and a procedure to release patches. That process has been streamlined to be almost instantaneous.”
The multi-platform backup capabilities of Storage Director include IBM midrange systems along with AIX and Linux on Power, Mainframe, and other Unix variants. It writes data to storage technologies that include physical tape, deduplication devices, virtual tape libraries, flash storage, disaster recovery sites in the cloud, and just about any other storage option you can think of.