Helios, Now with Apps on Your Cohesity Cluster

This month, Cohesity announced a marketplace for applications that can run directly on the Cohesity cluster. This is an excellent development from their Analytics Workbench which allowed custom written reporting applications to be run on the cluster. The marketplace, part of the Helios management platform, now enables software vendors to package their applications and offer deployment onto your Cohesity cluster. The initial offerings I have seen on the marketplace include Splunk for analytics and Imanis Data which is an interesting cloud-native backup vendor. What sort of applications would be useful on the Cohesity platform and what would be a poor choice?


The Cohesity is a data management platform, so a good application to run on the cluster will be very data focused. These applications will create insight from the existing data copies on the Cohesity platform. Another characteristic of the Cohesity platform is that it uses low core count Intel CPUs, so the applications must be able to get their work done with a moderate amount of CPU time. Another characteristic is that the applications will be mostly asynchronous; you must be prepared to wait for an answer. I don’t mean that the UI will be unresponsive but that the Cohesity platform suits analytics and intelligence functions more than real-time operations. Plenty of applications will not suit deployment on the Cohesity platform; it is not a general-purpose compute platform. This is not a place to run business applications like your databases, CRM or ERP system; those belong on your primary storage with high-performance physical servers and virtual machines.
The initial applications available from the Helios store are focused on reporting and analytics. I will be interested in seeing what other applications turn up in the store. I am also interested in how Cohesity customers might develop their own applications for this new platform. I understand that there are Docker containers, Kubernetes, and resource controls hidden under the covers so it should not be too hard to add customer-developed applications.

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Backup Your SaaS Data, Office 365 With Cohesity

Do you use Software as a Service? Does your SaaS provider offer a full suite of data protection and compliance archiving? What if you choose to exit one SaaS platform and move to another, how will you fulfill your data governance requirements? Will you have to pay for the old platform just to keep access to your older archives? I feel like compliance and archiving will make SaaS platforms a new type of Hotel California, where you must still pay for the older platform even after you move to a new one. The only way I can see to avoid this is to integrate your SaaS data protection with your other data protection activities. Theresa Miller has some thoughts on the same issue in her post about the real world need for data protection with Office 365.

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Cohesity Instant Mass Restore in Action

One of the first things that I saw in the Cohesity hardware is that it looks a lot like a hyperconverged infrastructure or scale-out software-defined storage. Multiple nodes in an enclosure, each with a mix of SSD and hard disk plus a reasonable amount of compute power. The nodes are clustered together to provide a distributed storage platform. Cohesity doesn’t seem to want to replace your SAN, but their storage is fast enough that you can run VMs from it for fast service recovery without waiting for data to copy in a restore. Once the VMs are running and service is restored, the VMs should be migrated back to your production datastores which Cohesity will do automatically. I made a short video showing this Cohesity Instant-Mass-Restore functionality in operation on my little lab. There is also a report from ESG that looks at the difference between bulk copy restores and Instant-Mass-Restore.

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Add My Cohesity Cluster to Helios

I wrote about Cohesity Helios back in October and this week finally started to use Helios to manage my virtual cluster. Helios is a SaaS offering for managing a collection of Cohesity clusters from a central location. For today I only have a single cluster to manage so there is a simple process to add the cluster to Helios. I posted a video of the process, showing my first time using Helios and how it was very simple to get started. I talk about IT simplification a lot, this is definitely easy to operate.

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Why Are You Copying Your Data? Part 2 – Better Business

There are plenty of reasons to copy your production data, in my last blog post I talked about the reasons that were protection against things going wrong. Today I want to talk about the more positive reasons to copy data, ways that data copies can make your business more productive and profitable. All of the data copies that we made in the last post were insurance, we are winning if we never need to access those copies. The positive reasons for copying data are all about making the data accessible immediately and getting value out of that immediate access. Insurance copies of data are all about durability and metadata searchability, production copies are about performance and are often short-lived. There will be value in having a platform for managing these valuable data copies, but it will need some sophisticated capabilities to deliver business value.

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Why Are You Copying Your Data? Part 1 – Bad Things Happen

Enterprise IT organizations like to have multiple copies of every piece of data, but every copy we store has a cost. It is vital that you know why you are making a copy of your data and choose the right place and product to store that copy. Traditionally we made copies of data because bad things could happen, I will focus on that in this post. There are a few different categories of ways that things can go wrong, with varying requirements for the data copies. I will also talk about the good things that can happen when you make copies of data, that will be another post. There are also considerations when you want to use a single platform for all of your data copying, that may end up being another blog post too.

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Notes from the Class – week of 10 December 2018

Now that I am back in front of classrooms, teaching AWS courses, it is time for the Notes from the Class blog posts to return. The nature of AWS means that every class I teach will have questions that I cannot immediately answer, these posts will allow me to share the questions and answers with students.

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Expanding Storage on a Cohesity Virtual Edition Appliance

I have had my Cohesity Virtual Edition appliance in my lab for a couple of months. It has been happily protecting my virtual machines, but its storage has become rather full. I did setup cloud tiering, which allowed least recently used deduplicated blocks to be migrated out to AWS S3. This tiering does mean that all my backups have continued to complete, and my most recent backups are on-premises for fast restore if required. However, I would prefer to have all my backup data available on-premises, so I need to expand the storage of my backup appliance. I am also sending a daily archive to AWS Glacier, so I have off-premises copies for disaster recovery should anything happen to my on-premises data shed.

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Operational Simplicity Rules! Updating Is Important

One of the central ideas of Hyperconverged and almost any modern IT infrastructure product is simplicity. This simplicity of deployment is great; it delivers fast time to value. Simplicity in operation is even more critical as it keeps the cost of ownership under control. Both converged, and hyperconverged products have simple deployment, a matter of a few hours from hardware delivery to a deployed platform. But they are very different when it comes time to apply updates. Updating a vBlock to a new standard release is a professional services engagement and might takes months to plan and weeks to execute. Most hyperconverged platforms include an updating process that can be initiated by customers and completed in one day, although you should test on a non-production system first. There are businesses replacing fleets of vBlocks with fleets of Hyperconverged clusters to make the updating process simpler. In the Build Day Live event last year with Pure Storage I was very impressed with the ability to update the Purity OS on the array without any downtime for the VMs that were hosted on the array. Equally impressive was the ability to upgrade from one model of the array to a more powerful one without any downtime. Hopefully, your on-premises infrastructure is this easy to update. Today I upgraded my Cohesity Virtual Edition appliance that is protecting my lab environment. It took me under 20 minutes, including the 10 minutes to download the update file from the Cohesity support site, I recorded a video of the process which is here on YouTube. I did test the update on another Cohesity Virtual Edition. Hopefully, I’ll be able to show you replication between those two appliances shortly.

Past Cohesity videos

Cohesity Virtual Edition Deployment Walk Through
Cohesity – Archive and Tier to public cloud
Active Directory Authentication for My Cohesity Cluster

Disclosure: This post is part of my work with Cohesity.

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Active Directory Authentication for My Cohesity Cluster

I am continuing to learn about Cohesity and share my learnings with you. This week I added my Cohesity cluster to Active Directory so that I could use AD accounts to manage the platform rather than the built-in account. The process is shown in this video and took all of five minutes to complete. The security model in Cohesity is reasonably straightforward but flexible. Accounts are given a role which defaults to being global but can be filtered to specific objects. There are roles for cluster administrators, backup operators, and backup viewers as well as a couple more that I haven’t investigated. There is also a facility to create custom roles based on your specific security policies. I granted one AD group administrative rights to replace using the admin account and gave another group the operator role so that they could look after data management, but not change the cluster setup. One important thing is to secure the built-in admin account’s password, configuring AD authentication supplements built-in authentication, so the local accounts still exist. Set a complex password and document it in whatever safe location you use for system passwords. Now that the cluster is joined to AD, the login page has a drop-down for domain selection. The delegation of user authentication to Active Directory was quick and easy on my Cohesity cluster.

Past Cohesity videos

Cohesity Virtual Edition Deployment Walk Through

Cohesity – Archive and Tier to public cloud

Disclosure: This post is part of my work with Cohesity.

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