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Trusted Business Advisors, Expert Technology Analysts

Research Areas

Data Protection

Includes Backup/Recovery, Archiving, DPM, VTL, CDP, Data De-duplication, DRM.

Data is the lifeblood of an enterprise. And yet data has been protected in essentially the same fashion over the past two decades, i.e. by backing it up to tape and sending the tapes offsite. This method alone is no longer adequate and a spade of new technologies has become available in the last five years. These new technologies are already transforming the way data is protected, how long it is kept online, how it is archived. Recovery Management has emerged as a new discipline focused on recovering data rather than copying data. The new compliance requirements are essentially requiring companies of all sizes to upgrade their data protection infrastructures or be subject to huge fines. The level of innovation in this space is torrid. Taneja Group covers this space from end to end and has defined many of the new categories that now are considered the norm. The analysts that cover this space have deep industry backgrounds in developing and marketing these technologies.

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Report

Data Protection Designed for Flash - Better Together: HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage and StoreOnce System

Flash technology has burst on the IT scene within the past few years with a vengeance. Initially seen simply as a replacement for HDDs, flash now is triggering IT and business to rethink a lot of practices that have been well established for decades. One of those is data protection. Do you protect data the same way when it is sitting on flash as you did when HDDs ruled the day? How do you take into account that at raw cost/capacity levels, flash is still more expensive than HDDs?  Do data deduplication and compression technologies change how you work with flash? Does the fact that flash technology is injected most often to alleviate severe application performance issues require you to rethink how you should protect, manage, and move this data?

These questions apply across the board when flash is injected into storage arrays but even more so when you consider all-flash arrays (AFAs), which are often associated with the most mission-critical applications an enterprise possesses. The expectations for application service levels and data protection recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are vastly different in these environments. Given this, are existing data protection tools adequate? Or is there a better way to utilize these expensive assets and yet achieve far superior results? The short answer is yes to both.

In this Opinion piece we will focus on answering these questions broadly through the data protection lens. We will then look at a specific case of how data protection can be designed with flash in mind by considering the combination of flash-optimized HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage, HP StoreOnce System backup appliances, and HP StoreOnce Recovery Management Central (RMC) software. These elements combine to produce an exceptional solution that meets the stringent application service requirements and data protection RTOs and RPOs that one finds in flash storage environments while keeping costs in check.

Publish date: 08/17/15
Technology Validation

Better Together: Optimizing VMware vSphere 6.0 Deployments with Dell EqualLogic PS Series

Although server virtualization provides enormous benefits for the modern data center, it can also be daunting from a storage perspective. Provisioning storage to match the exact virtual machine (VM) requirements has always been challenging, often ending in a series of compromises. Each VM will have its own unique performance and storage requirements; this can create over-provisioning and other inefficient uses of storage. A virtualization administrator has to try and match a VM’s storage requirements as close as possible to storage that has been pre-provisioned. Provisioning in this way is time consuming and does not possess the VM-level granularity required to meet the specific needs of the applications running in a VM. To exacerbate the problem, often, over the lifetime of a VM, the storage requirements for a VM will change, which requires ongoing diligence and review of the storage platform and manual intervention to meet the new requirements.

VMware vSphere 6.0 introduced the biggest change to the ESXi storage stack since the company’s inception with the inclusion of vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVol). VVol helps to solve the challenge of how to match a VM’s storage requirements with external storage capabilities on a per VM basis. We found that VVol when combined with Dell EqualLogic PS Series arrays become a powerful force in the datacenter.

In this brief, we call out some storage-related highlights of vSphere 6.0 such as Virtual Volumes, and then take a close look at how they, as well as traditional datastore stored VMs have been enhanced and packaged by Dell Storage into the EqualLogic PS Series storage solution. We will show how Dell and VMware have combined forces to deliver an enterprise-class virtual server and storage environment that is highly optimized and directly addresses the performance, availability, data protection and complexity challenges common in today’s business-critical virtualized data centers.

Publish date: 04/28/15
Profile

OneCloud Software: DR For the Masses

With the advent of server virtualization, many adopters erroneously think that disaster recovery (DR) is a problem of the past. They cite the ability of the hypervisors to replace the two most common yet imperfect DR choices: 1) infrastructure replication to a secondary replica site – fast to restore but very expensive, or 2) economical tape backup with off-site long-term storage – economical but slow to recover from.

The reality is that while server virtualization has certainly helped the industry get closer to simpler and less expensive DR products, DR still remains one of the major challenges for IT. This is especially true for applications that fall somewhere between the most mission critical where RTOs and RPOs of a few seconds is needed (and cost is often no object) and those that find RTOs and RPOs of a day or two to be adequate. Today, DR products available for these “intermediate” applications are few and far between, especially when overall cost of DR is considered.  

The missing piece so far has been a cost-effective DR solution with excellent RTO and RPO for the majority of business applications -- without requiring a secondary site. OneCloud steps into the gap by replacing that expensive site with the hyper-scale public cloud. This Profile will discuss how OneCloud works to extend the primary data center onto the cloud, and how this impacts the ease and speed of VM recovery.

Publish date: 11/19/14
Profile

The HP Solution to Backup Complexity and Scale

There are a lot of game-changing trends in IT today including mobility, cloud, and big data analytics. As a result, IT architectures, data centers, and data processing are all becoming more complex – increasingly dynamic, heterogeneous, and distributed. For all IT organizations, achieving great success today depends on staying in control of rapidly growing and faster flowing data.

While there are many ways for IT technology and solution providers to help clients depending on their maturity, size, industry, and key business applications, every IT organization has to wrestle with BURA (Backup, Recovery, and Archiving). Protecting and preserving the value of data is a key business requirement even as the types, amounts, and uses of that data evolve and grow.

For IT organizations, BURA is an ever-present, huge, and growing challenge. Unfortunately, implementing a thorough and competent BURA solution often requires piecing and patching together multiple vendor products and solutions. These never quite fully address the many disparate needs of most organizations nor manage to be very simple or cost-effective to operate. Here is where we see HP as a key vendor today with all the right parts coming together to create a significant change in the BURA marketplace.

First, HP is pulling together its top-notch products into a user-ready “solution” that marries both StoreOnce storage and Data Protector. For those working with either or both of those separately in the past in conjunction with other vendor’s products, it’s no surprise that they each compete favorably one-on-one with other products in the market, but together as an integrated joint solution they beat the best competitor offerings.

But HP hasn’t just bundled products into solutions, it is undergoing a seismic shift in culture that revitalizes its total approach to market. From product to services to support, HP people have taken to heart a “customer first” message to provide a truly solution-focused HP experience. One support call, one ticket, one project manager, addressing the customer’s needs regardless of what internal HP business unit components are in the “box”. And significantly, this approach elevates HP from just being a supplier of best-of-breed products into an enterprise-level trusted solution provider addressing business problems head-on. HP is perhaps the only company completely able to deliver a breadth of solutions spanning IT from top to bottom out of their own internal world-class product lines.

In this report, we’ll examine first why HP StoreOnce and Data Protector products are truly game-changing on their own rights. Then, we will look at why they get even “better together” as a complete BURA solution that can be more flexibly deployed to meet backup challenges than any other solution in the market today.

Publish date: 05/30/14
Profile

Converging Branch IT Infrastructure the Right Way: Riverbed SteelFusion

Companies with significant non-data center and often widely distributed IT infrastructure requirements are faced with many challenges. It can be difficult enough to manage tens or hundreds if not thousands of remote or branch office locations, but many of these can also be located in dirty or dangerous environments that are simply not suited for standard data center infrastructure. It is also hard if not impossible to forward deploy the necessary IT experience to manage any locally placed resources. The key challenge then, and one that can be competitively differentiating on cost alone, is to simplify branch IT as much as possible while supporting branch business.

Converged solutions have become widely popular in the data center, particularly in virtualized environments. By tightly integrating multiple functionalities into one package, there are fewer separate moving parts for IT to manage while at the same time optimizing capabilities based on tightly intimately integrating components. IT becomes more efficient and in many ways gains more control over the whole environment. In addition to obviously increasing IT simplicity there are many other cascading benefits. The converged infrastructure can perform better, is more resilient and available, and offers better security than separately assembled silos of components. And a big benefit is a drastically lowered TCO.

Yet for a number of reasons, data center convergence approaches haven’t translated as usefully to beneficial convergence in the branch. No matter how tightly integrated a “branch in a box” is, if it’s just an assemblage of the usual storage, server, and networking silo components it will still suffer from traditional branch infrastructure challenges – second-class performance, low reliability, high OPEX, and difficult to protect and recover. Branches have unique needs and data center infrastructure, converged or otherwise, isn’t designed to meet those needs. This is where Riverbed has pioneered a truly innovative converged infrastructure designed explicitly for the branch which provides simplified deployment and provisioning, resiliency in the face of network issues, improved protection and recovery from the central data center, optimization and acceleration for remote performance, and a greatly lowered OPEX.

In this paper we will review Riverbed’s SteelFusion (formerly known as Granite) branch converged infrastructure solution, and see how it marries together multiple technical advances including WAN optimization, stateless compute, and “projected” datacenter storage to solve those branch challenges and bring the benefits of convergence out to branch IT. We’ll see how SteelFusion is not only fulfilling the promise of a converged “branch” infrastructure that supports distributed IT, but also accelerates the business based on it.

Publish date: 04/15/14
Technology Validation

Convergence for the Branch Office: Transforming Resiliency and TCO with Riverbed SteelFusion (TVS)

The branch office has long been a critical dilemma for the IT organization. Branch offices for many organizations are a critical point of productivity and revenue generation, yet the branch has always come with a tremendous amount of operational overhead and risk. Worse yet, challenges are often exacerbated because the branch office too often looks like a carryover of outdated IT practices.

More often than not, the branch office is still a highly manual, human-effort-driven administration exercise. Physical equipment too often sits at a remote physical office, and requires significant human management and intervention for activities like data protection and recovery, or replacement of failed hardware. Given the remote nature of the branch office, such human intervention often comes with significant overhead in the form of telephone support, less than efficient over-the-wire system configuration, equipment build and ship processes, or even significant travel to remote locations. Moreover, in an attempt to avoid issues, the branch office is often over-provisioned with equipment in order to reduce the impact of outages, or is designed in such a way as to be too dependent on across the Wide Area Network (WAN) services that impair user productivity and simply exchange the risk of equipment failure for the risk of WAN outage. But while such practices come with significant operational cost, there’s a subtler cost lurking below the surface – any branch office outage is enmeshed in data consequences. Data protection may be a slower process for the branch office, subjecting the branch to greater risks with equipment failure or disaster, and restoring branch office data and productivity after a disaster can be a long slow process compared to the capabilities of the modern datacenter.

When branch offices are a key part of a business, these practices that are routinely accepted as the standard can make the branch office one of the costliest and riskiest areas of the IT infrastructure. Worse yet, for many enterprises, the branch office has only increased its importance over time, and may generate more revenue and require more responsive and available IT systems than ever before. The branch office clearly requires better agility and efficiency than it receives today.

Riverbed Technologies has long proven their mettle in helping enterprises optimize and better enable connectivity and data sharing for distributed work teams. Over the past decade, Riverbed has come to dominate the market for WAN optimization technologies that compress data and optimize the connection between branch or remote offices and the datacenter. But Riverbed rose to this position of dominance because their SteelHead appliances do far more than just optimize a connection – Riverbed’s dominance of this market sprung from deep collaboration and interaction optimization of CIFS/SMB and other protocols by way of intelligent interception and caching of the right data to make the remote experience feel like a local experience. Moreover, Riverbed SteelHead could do this while making that remote connection effectively stateless, and eliminating the need to protect or manage data in the branch office.

Almost two years ago, Riverbed announced a continuing evolution of their “location independent computing” focus with the introduction of their SteelFusion family of solutions. The vision behind SteelFusion was a focus on delivering far more performance and capability in branch offices, while doing away with the complexity of multiple component parts and scattered data. SteelFusion does this by transforming the branch office into a stateless “projection” of data, applications, and VMs stored in the datacenter. Moreover, SteelFusion does this with a converged solution that combines storage, networking, and compute all in one device – the first comprehensive converged infrastructure solution purpose-built for the branch. This converged offering though, is built on branch office “statelessness” that, as we’ll review, transparently stores data in the datacenter, and allows the business to configure, change, protect, and manage the branch office with enterprise tools, while eradicating the risk associated with traditional branch office infrastructure.

SteelFusion today does this by virtualizing VMware ESXi VMs on a stateless appliance that in essence “projects” data from the datacenter to a remote location, while maintaining localized speed of access and resilient availability that can tolerate even severe network outages. Three innovative technology components that make up Riverbed’s SteelFusion allow it to host virtual machines that access their primary data via the datacenter, from where it is cached on the SteelFusion appliance while maintaining a highly efficient but near synchronous connection back to the datacenter storage. In turn, SteelFusion makes it possible to run many local applications in a rich, complex branch office while requiring no other servers or devices. Riverbed promises that SteelFusion’s architecture can tolerate outages, but synchronize data so effectively that it will operate as a stateless appliance, enabling branch data to be completely protected by datacenter synchronization and backup, with more up to date protection and faster recovery regardless of whether there’s a loss of a single file, or the loss of an entire system. In short, this is a promise to comprehensively revolutionize the practice of branch office IT.

In January of 2014, Taneja Group took a deeper look at what Riverbed is doing with SteelFusion. While we’ve provided other written assessments on the use case and value of Riverbed SteelFusion, we also wanted to take a hands-on look at how the technology works, and whether in real world use it really delivers management effort reductions, availability improvements, and increased IT capabilities along with consequent improvements in the risks around branch office IT. To do this, we turned to a hands-on lab exercise – what we call a Technology Validation.

What did we find?  We found that Riverbed SteelFusion does indeed deliver a transformation of branch office management and capabilities, by fundamentally reducing complexity, injecting a number of powerful capabilities (such as enterprise snapshots and access to all data, copies, and tools in the enterprise) and making the branch office resilient, constantly protected, and instantly recoverable. While the change in capabilities is significant, this also translates into a significant impact on time and effort, and we captured a number of metrics throughout our hands-on look at SteelFusion. For the details, we turn to the full report.

Publish date: 04/14/14
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