Cloud Data Protection

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Cloud Computingby Jelani Harper

The adoption rates of Cloud Computing and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) will continue to climb with the recent release of Zetta.net’s Zetta DataProtect 4.5.

The benefits of this Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product that enables both data backups and disaster recovery for a multitude of files, databases, and entire servers are myriad, and most notably include:

  • Reduced Infrastructure Costs: Whereas conventional SaaS offerings require the purchase, implementation, and maintenance of additional infrastructure in the form of staging devices or appliances, Zetta DataProtect was specifically architected so that enterprises could forgo these potentially costly additions and store versions of their data directly in the Cloud.
  • Virtually Unparalleled Expedience: Bolstered by built in WAN optimization that allows enterprises to use conventional LAN internet connections to transfer copious quantities of data back and forth to the Cloud quickly, Zetta DataProtect 4.5 is the only solution that grants this degree of speed without appliances—particularly when one considers it can do so for entire servers.
  • Accessibility and Relative Inexpensiveness: As is the case with all SaaS offerings, users can access their data backups from anywhere there is an internet connection, while only paying for the amount of data that they actually utilize the service for.

Although there are a host of other features associated with the most recent product release, including a Windows native Bare Metal Restore (BMR) methodology, sophisticated security advances, and various snapshots, the aforementioned three characteristics could very well make this product a game changer for backup and data recovery—especially with the growing increase in e-commerce. According to Zetta.net’s Chief Marketing Officer Gary Sevounts,

“We are today the only company that has figured out a way to do all these different types of backups, but specifically server image backup, without requiring an appliance and with built in WAN acceleration to deliver fast speeds. That’s a key differentiator for this particular solution, and it is a huge benefit for folks who are looking for this type of solution. Now they can enjoy this technology without having to buy, deploy and manage appliances.”

Use Case

The vitality of being able to have data backups and to recover in the event of failure is never as pressing as when there is some sort of natural disaster, and a bevy of data driven processes critical to business and revenue needs are no longer accessible. Such concerns exist across all vertical industries and for all organizations in which data is involved in daily operations.

A small hotel chain recently became a customer of Zetta.net after a situation in which, following the occurrence of a natural disaster, its server that facilitated Internet-based reservations was down. Because it required an appliance for Internet access, the company had to wait a matter of days before someone came to the physical location and was able to remedy the appliance situation. During that time, it could only accept reservations via the phone, which significantly impacted its revenues during this time span. Sevounts noted:

“They were especially excited about our solution because they said hey, if this happens again, we were able to get internet and electricity very quickly. We don’t have to wait a day or two or three to be able to recover our server. If they have a fast connection, a 200 gigabyte server would be recovered under an hour. That’s a far cry from having to wait a day or two. You’re either losing your revenue for half an hour or for a few days. Ours is a more prevalent model because more and more companies are relying on the internet for revenue generation and other functions.”

Implementation

Implementing Zetta DataProtect is relatively straightforward. Zetta.net has large data infrastructure in a number of data centers dispersed throughout the country, which provides Cloud-based access to the data of its customers. Clients have an application on their servers known as an agent, which provisions data backups. With agents in place on their servers, customers can readily backup individual files, entire server images (including their operating systems and everything else on the server) or entire databases.

Additionally, the 4.5 release of Zetta DataProtect enables enterprises to backup physical servers and virtual servers, the distinction being that a physical server is typically a solitary piece of hardware, whereas virtual servers may contain a number of virtualized servers on the same single piece of hardware. The solution enables two different types of snapshots—the first of which is taken at an organization’s server and ensures consistency by capturing all of the data at the same point in time. That snapshot is then sent to Zetta’s infrastructure via the Cloud where another snapshot is taken and used as a restoration point. Depending on how much data an organization is backing up and the amount of changes done to it, restoration points can span from a matter of months to years.

Best of all, perhaps, customers have a variety of options for recovering their data, which can involve any combination of physical to physical, virtual to virtual, or virtual to physical options. The recent release also offers a native (BMR) alternative in which recovered data can easily be restored into an original physical environment with technology that is not proprietary, but native to Windows. Zetta.net Vice President of Products Chris Schin remarked:

“You can back up a physical server if that’s what you’ve got, you can back up any number of virtual servers on any virtualization platform if you want, and then when it comes time to restore, you can restore that image regardless of where it came from back to any virtual environment or to any physical environment.”

Security

Although there are a bevy of security measures in place to protect the physical infrastructure at its data centers that Zetta.net has to facilitate its Cloud environment, it will be difficult to surpass the new security feature for Zetta DataProtect 4.5 which incorporates Google’s Authentication platform. Users are required to issue two forms of identification prior to getting access to Zetta.net’s solution, the first of which is a standard username and password. The second, however, requires receiving a multi-digit code from Google, which is updated every minute on any variety of handheld communication devices and correctly inputting it. Only after Zetta.net contacts Google to verify the code is access to the product granted.

According to Schin, most security breaches occur on the user’s end, and not Zetta.net’s—which explains the updated security feature:

“In order for somebody to hack our solution, they would have to steal your user name and password, and then they would also need to steal that person’s phone and have all the codes to get into it. Adding a second layer of authentication requirements really ensures that our customer’s data is safe.”

In Retrospect

Ultimately, such security measures help to ensure that the only problems customers will ever have accessing the backup copies of their data is if some sort of natural or unnatural disaster occurs. The recovery capabilities of Zetta DataProtect can provide timely disaster recovery since it requires no external hardware—which many disaster recovery and Cloud backup solutions do.

Although appliances are useful for copying data onto them (either with or without the Cloud), they are not effective disaster recovery options since in the latter case they will fail along with everything else that fails in the event of a disaster, and in the former they require extended lengths of time to treat in the event of a disaster. The same sentiment applies to other storage measures that are on-premise and not Cloud-based.

“Disaster recovery simply means having the ability to get a copy of your data back as quickly as possible,” Schin said. “It has started to take on a connotation in 2014 that has to do with providers taking data off to the Cloud and then allowing people to restore it in that same Cloud.”

 

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