Is your data protection driven by your data governance? You do have data governance policies, don’t you? Data governance policies should come from the business that generates data and identifies how that data needs to be cared for and protected. Things like how often it needs to be backed up, copied off-site, archived for compliance, encrypted, protected from copying, copied for other uses, and how long it should be kept before it is deleted. Once you have these data governance policies and you know where the governed data resides, you will know how to configure your data protection policies. Allowing the data governance policies to flow through to the data protection policies automatically will help significantly to ensure compliance.
The best automation is definitely one that is built into the platform or product. However, each business is unique, so there is also a need for custom automation. Today I will dig into the beginnings of writing PowerShell automation against a Cohesity cluster. I use PowerShell for a lot of system administration automation since I come from a Windows centered background and use PowerCLI to manage vSphere environments. Cohesity has a PowerShell module which is distributed through the PowerShell Gallery, making installation simple. I spent a while looking at the basics and example scripts, then extending some examples to fit what I wanted a little better. The resulting script is by no means ready to do anything useful, that will need to wait for a later post.
It has been
over a year since my last full Tech
Field Day event, and I’m delighted to be going to Silicon Valley next week
for Tech Field Day 19. I am
particularly looking forward to a mix of old friends and new ones, both delegates
and presenting companies. VMware
and Dan Frith are both
friends through many events, while Automation
Anywhere and Marina
Ferreira are both new to me. In between are friends and companies that I
know a little and will learn more about next week.
Business process automation is an essential part of what IT delivers, and central to allowing IT to deliver business automation is using IT automation. You may recall lots of vBrownBag content around “Automate all the things” a few years ago. Plenty of help to use PowerShell to automate your vSphere and more recent content helping you learn to automate with Python. The thing is that the best automation is the one you don’t write. A vendor with an open API to allow customers to develop automation is fantastic, and now an open API is table stakes for products in private and public cloud deployment. Unfortunately, some vendors stop with an API and expect their customers to develop all of their own automation using that API. If a large number of your customers are writing precisely the same automation, then your product is missing the feature that removes the need to write the automation. For example, if most of your customers need to write reports that show the availability and performance of your product, then your product should have those reports built-in. Customers are far better served with features built-in, rather than lots of duplicated effort to build these features on top of your API.
I had a great chat with a Zerto customer while we were eating lunch at ZertoCon last week. The customer is an MSP that offers Backup and DR as services to their customers. The DR as a Service (DRaaS) is delivered with Zerto. MSPs are a large market for Zerto, the MSPs put their own brand over the Zerto product and provide DRaaS for their customers. The comment from the support engineer was that when Zerto reports a problem, then there was a real problem, rather than a Zerto software issue. The MSPs Backup as a service product used a different vendor’s product, and the MSP frequently had support calls open with the vendor to resolve the problems with the backup product. The MSP’s DRaaS engineer that I chatted with could not believe how often the backup team had to open support requests with the backup vendor. He seldom, if ever, opens tickets with Zerto. For enterprise customers, the reliability translates into less staff time to deliver consistent DR using Zerto.
The headline feature of Zerto 7.0, released this month, is long term retention. Previously Zerto would retain recovery points for a maximum of 30 days, and now retention is a policy set by the customer. Recovery for up to 30 days meets most DR and backup/restore requirements, but not compliance and archive. With long term retention Zerto can be used for all of the “bad things happen” use cases that I outlined a few months ago. I wonder whether that MSP will deprecate their backup as a service and rename their DRaaS as “data protection as a service” when they upgrade to Zerto 7.0. Unifying back and DR makes a lot of sense. A single “copy” action from production can satisfy both requirements; then policies determine which copies go where and how long they are retained.
Hopefully, you understand that cloud-native applications have very different architecture and different databases compared to traditional enterprise applications. There are now modern enterprise applications, which use cloud-native services and databases alongside traditional application constructs. We also see more enterprises having parts of their estate in the public cloud and using cloud-native services. Hybrid cloud is not merely using both on-premises and cloud services, but also often has a melding of cloud-native and enterprise techniques. Against that backdrop, it makes a lot of sense for enterprise data protection platforms to add cloud-native data protection. Cohesity buying Imanis Data adds non-relational database protection to the platform.
Disclosure: This post is part of my work with Cohesity.
I had a briefing with Imanis in the middle of 2018, well before the acquisition. Imanis’s mission was to offer enterprise data management for Hadoop and No-SQL data. Their platform is software-only and uses a scale-out architecture. It provides a distributed file system with deduplication and compression, it protects data using API based access, rather than agents. So far, so good, so what? The exciting part for me is data awareness and the use of machine learning in the platform. Data awareness means that the Imanis platform knows about the data structures inside the databases and can use this to aid migration and do analytics on the protected data. I particularly liked that the analytics include ransomware detection, a role that I think backup products are ideally placed to fulfill.
I saw Imanis again when Cohesity unveiled their app store. You can deploy Imanis directly onto your Cohesity cluster and use the Cohesity scale-out storage for Imanis. It appears that Cohesity will continue to sell Imanis as a stand-alone product, as well as more integration into the Cohesity platform. I hope that we see the integration of the Cohesity policy based back into Imanis. I want to apply the same protection policy to the parts of my application that reside in VMs and cloud-native data stores. Cohesity continues to expand the coverage for their data protection, covering Enterprise platforms, Outlook 365, and now cloud-native databases. The aim is clearly to be a one-stop-shop for data protection and management in enterprises and particularly support multi-cloud organizations.
One of the beautiful things about a small conference is feeling less like I’m lost in a crowd. I spent three days in Nashville at ZertoCon with a few hundred other attendees. A smaller conference meant smaller queues for food and less walking around the conference center. A smaller crowd also meant that after chatting with the person next to me in a line, I saw them and talked with them again the next day. It is quite a different feeling compared to the massive conferences I often attend. There was also some lovely personal touches such as having Zil (a Zerto staff member, or Zertonian) play guitar for the opening keynote and again at the customer appreciation party. The crowd at the party really appreciated the Zertonians who performed when the house band took a break. I went to more sessions at ZertoCon than I have at any conference since my first VMworld. Both those sessions were good with knowledgeable presenters in rooms that were small enough that questions didn’t feel like an interruption. I also had a one-on-one briefing as well as easy access to talk to Zerto and sponsor staff to answer questions.
I liked the center of Nashville too, although it will be more pleasant when the construction right next to my hotel is finished. The bottom of Broadway is quite a sight, three or four blocks of wall-to-wall live music venues. Even on a Monday night everywhere had live performance and many bars had multiple bands playing. One bar we went to was four floors with three different groups performing. I was surprised that almost all of the music was classic rock covers, not a lot of anything country or western.
My favorite part of all of the conferences that I go to is catching up with my community friends. Ariel and Edgar were there before me and won the hackathon by adding Zerto components to their vDocumentation tool. I caught up with Nick Scuola, Shannon Snowden, and Justin Paul, who are all Zertonians, along with Kaitlyn, who was my host for the event. I also got to hang out with Eric Siebert properly for the first time.
Small conferences are very different from large ones. There was more focus on education and technical content at ZertoCon than at the massive vendor conferences. ZertoCon felt personal and the Zertonians I met wanted to have real relationships with attendees rather than simply to make sales.
This week I had a look at using my Cohesity cluster to protect a Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) environment. Most of my experience with Nutanix was using vSphere as the hypervisor, in which case Cohesity sees a vSphere environment. This time I deployed the Nutanix Community Edition (CE) which uses AHV and allows a single node deployment. The protection process for AHV works the same as vSphere protection, but the restore processes are not quite as smooth. Below is a walk-through of protection and recovery; you can see the same process in this video. You can also read more about Cohesity protection for Nutanix AHV on the product page and learn more about Cohesity through the Build Day Live event.
Next week I will be in Nashville for ZertoCon. Two firsts for me as I have never been to Tennessee or ZertoCon. I also get to have my longest flight, almost fifteen hours direct from Auckland to Chicago before my connection to Nashville. Unfortunately, I don’t get to Nashville until Sunday night, too late for the ZertoCon Hackathon. Hopefully, I will be sufficiently rested to make the most of the education opportunities at ZertoCon on Monday. There are hands-on-labs as well as instructor-led training and certification testing. The sessions run Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m interested in some of the cloud migration sessions as well as a vExpert session run by Ariel Sanchez and Nick Scuola. I am also expecting to learn quite a bit about Zerto V7.0 that was released this month. Say hi if you see me at ZertoCon, also look out for Ariel.
On my way back from Nashville, I will have a couple of days in San Jose. Who should I catch up with while I’m there?
When I first met Pure Storage, at Virtualization Field Day Three, the company objective was to deliver an all-flash storage array that was cost competitive with disk-based arrays. At that time Pure Storage was optimizing for cost, rather than all-out performance. But even when the price was a primary concern, Pure also wanted to deliver the data services that enterprise IT expects. Over the five years since I met Pure, I have seen many profound changes in the company, and the industry as a whole. While Pure is still very conscious of the cost of their products, they have a sufficient range of products that there are performance optimized options. There are whole new families of products that were not even conceived in 2014. One thing that has not changed is their business approach. The Forever Flash guarantee is one aspect of how Pure wants to make life simpler for its customers.