As fundamental IT practices, backup and recovery have not changed in their importance. It remains critical for enterprises to protect their business-critical corporate data stores. The backup and recovery functions have, however, changed significantly with the advent of virtualization and cloud-based environments. Over the past several years, storage infrastructure has evolved from physical servers to virtualized servers, and has now evolved further to accommodate new platforms like containers and hybrid cloud. This has made the entire process of backup and recovery more complex and multi-nuanced.
The very complexion of infrastructure itself has changed with the advent of virtualization and cloud platforms. The relative ease with which organizations can spin up new virtual servers and individual virtual machines throughout their environment has led to some degree of sprawl in most organizations. Scratch the surface at any large organization, and there will invariably be virtual machines and servers that may be unused or simply forgotten about. This can create an unnecessary drain on resources.
RECOVERY IS CRITICAL
As the infrastructure and storage platforms have evolved, so too has the focus. The general focus is shifting simply from backup to the more practical aspect of recovery. “The important stuff is somewhere else so you can recover. That ability to recover is the bit everyone is interested in,” says Moir. “We don’t talk about backup anymore. We talk about recovery now. We talk about recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives and all the backup technology is driving how you want to recover.” And again, relying on a hybrid cloud platform can help expedite recovery, but you have to carefully manage and configure the process. “You can leverage the cloud in a couple of ways,” says Moir. “The old case is to just have your data sent out there. But if you put your data out there and you want to recover it, how you going to get that data back?”
MAINTAINING YOUR CONTAINERS
While that organizational and fiscal agility is important, so too is maintaining a similar degree of technological agility. Maintaining an IT infrastructure, complete with the full backup and disaster recovery capabilities, is certainly a different paradigm when looking at on-premises versus cloud platforms.
And now virtual containers and containerization is another level of disruption to the composition of your infrastructure. Containers provide another degree of technological agility, but also pose some unique implications for disaster recovery, backup, and restore.
“Containers provide a service, which is then torn down. During that peak demand, it’s an ideal solution. But the most important thing is the database. That’s the content you want to protect. You can protect the container images when they’re running, but that’s it. They’re all the same. We used to get asked that a lot with VDI. ‘How do you back up desktops?’ You should back up the data people are using—not the desktops themselves.
We’re getting out of the mentality of virtual machines versus desktops.” Container technology has certainly achieved a level of mainstream adoption. “Container evolution has always been interesting. One of the challenges businesses have with traditional apps was understanding how they’re performing. Containers complicate that,” says Jones. “Infrastructure teams need to understand where the data is going. ‘Are you on-premises or purely in the cloud? And what about scale? Where might that data be persisted? What is the likelihood or rate of change for that data? How do I effectively recover from a full outage?’” says Jones. “You need more consistent storage solutions in containerized environments. Just protecting the container isn’t really bringing full value to the business.”