Leverage Your Data Copies

One of the things I have got used to hearing from backup vendors is that it’s not just about backups. The backup repository is full of important data and your business should be able to get more value from that data. What I haven’t seen is a lot of concrete demonstration of how to get that value from those backup vendors. This made the demonstrations in the Actifio presentation at Tech Field Day 11 really interesting. This was a TFD event, so please refer to my standard TFD disclaimer.


In my preparation, I mentioned that I hadn’t heard anything from Actifio for a long time. It seems I wasn’t listening or not listening in the right places. Actifio ha]s a pretty awesome story of how to use the backup copies of your data to give value. One part of the value is the portability. The ability to take a deduplicated backup and ship it to another site, even if that site is a cloud. The second part is to use a copy of the production dataset, and VMs, as the basis for testing.

A lot of organizations are embracing DevOps and CI/CD to simplify the development and deployment process. One of the challenges being addressed the mismatch between the test/dev environments and the production platform. Containers and microservices architectures help to reduce this mismatch. However, most organizations must maintain applications with legacy architectures. In the end, there is no substitute for testing with a full copy of the production environment. This is one of the very interesting things that Actifio enables. From the deduplicated backup store it is possible to rapidly deploy a copy of production into a test environment. The test environment can be on premises or in a public cloud like AWS. By integrating with a CI/CD pipeline it is possible to test new code against an up to date replica of production.

One of the challenges of DevOps is the different tools that are used by developers and operations teams. These differences are natural as the two teams need to look after very different things. Operations look after infrastructure while developers look after applications. While Actifio is definitely an infrastructure product it can be integrated with developer tools. In one of the demos, we saw an Ansible playbook used to deploy a clone of production into development. The ability for developers to self-service this kind of environment is extremely useful. Even more so is the ability to have this happen as part of a CI/CD pipeline. Code changes automatically tested against a replica of production.

I particularly like the ability to use public cloud resources for Dev/Test workloads. These types of workloads are transient and have very spiky resource demands. Exactly the characteristics of a good workload for public cloud. Actifio allows you to keep production on your dedicated on-premises hardware with the levels of resilience and performance you expect. With deduplicated data replication to public cloud, the cost and time for data transfers are reduced. Then test and development can occur with a full copy of production, but using pay as you go resources.

I was very impressed with the Actifio presentation at TFD11. I also like the stainless-steel, thermos,  water bottle that Actifio gave us, along with a few other little gifts.

© 2016, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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