• Backup – The safety net supporting Smaller UK Businesses

    November 20, 2016

    safety-net2-backup-drA recent conversation with one of our Customers refocussed my attention on the business side of backup (its easy to get so involved in the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Backup technology – you sometimes ‘loose’ sight of the bigger picture)

    As a manufacturing business, they are re-investing in new business systems, such as Warehousing and Distribution Systems, new CRM Systems, advanced Telephony systems and upgrading their Accounting Systems.

    For them –  Backup is simply there to protect AND Recover Invoice data (Who owes me money), Accounts Payable (who do I owe money), Warehouse Stock, CAD Drawing, Credit card payment details –

    The Managing Director is not interested in VMware Snapshot Capability or Hyper-V VSS  — They would not and should not need to know – Thats ‘IT’s’ role in the business.

    They simply want:

    1) Good long term Data preservation

    2) Confidence their daily business changes are accurately backed-up  and available for quick restore

    3) and the emerging need of ‘How can I use my backup for DR/BC

    Smaller businesses may now operate across time zones – meaning their business systems need to be operational and ‘UP’ for 14-18 hours per day – rather than the traditional 8-10 hours per day

    So Why Did I say ‘Smaller UK Businesses’  in the BLOG title

    In many ways –  Smaller UK Business can often ‘only afford’ backup.

    By that I mean – The array of technology Medium sized business can deploy is often dazzling.

    Lets compare:

    Smaller Business Medium Business
    Number of Sites 1-2 4-6
    WAN Speed between Sites – Can the WAN be used for cross site Backup 1-10 mbps / There is the possibility some bandwidth can be used for DR Backup 10-100 mbps / Usually there is more than sufficient bandwidth for a full remote DR capability
    Typical Data/Systems Sizes 2-6 TB 6-30TB
    Storage Systems Mostly Internal / Direct Attached; with a first move to SAN Technology Medium sized businesses typically progressed some years back to SAN Technology
    Virtualisation Some – a Mix of Physical and Virtual – often with the key servers still Physical Reasonably Committed to Virtualisation with 90% of Servers Virtual – Usually the key SQL or other servers still physical
    Backup Still wrestling with Backup Exec or Arc Serve.Old Tape Drive – often on its last legsTape Backups nightlyTape in the firesafe or someone’s backpack to take home. Have moved beyond Tape into Cross site DeDuplication and Replication, using DeDupe Appliances –Possibly, Tape in there somewhere used as an infrequent archive.Completely automated hands off backup operations, comprising traditional backup, Modern SAN Snapshot, Cloud based archiving of email etc.
    Disaster Recovery The data is ‘there’ somewhere, and the business can be recovered, but it might result in recovery times of 48-72 hours, and with data loss of 24-36 hours. Because of the rapid modernisation, these organisations have often taken their ‘Three Year Old’ technology and redeployed that to a remote office as their DR solution – Providing them with a 30 minutes – 3 Hour recovery capability to bring a good percentage of the business back ‘on-line’


    Medium Size business have the technology, budgets and supporting Network infrastructure to deliver data protection needs three OR four differing ways (SAN Snapshots, Remote SAN Snapshot, Real-time Archive to Cloud, Exchange 2010 WAN Based DAG Pairs etc. etc.)


    Most smaller businesses often have ‘just’ the budget to run one process – and that’s Traditional Backup – They don’t have the SANs, and the WANs for ‘fancy backup’.

    Backup made for smaller businesses

    So – when it comes to Smaller Business Backup – its critical to

    1. Not settle for overly basic technologies
    2. To carefully evaluate the market for Tier 1 technologies that have released new lower cost licensing that will provide ‘Tier 1’ capabilities, but with new SMB (Small Medium Business) pricing:


    Thats where our expertise comes in

    As 80% of our business is in the Backup space, we have a deep understanding of a variety of backup technologies

    More importantly, we understand the nuances of those products licensing models, and can extract maximum benefit and very modest licensing prices

    JUST BECAUSE your business might only have 2-6TB that means its no less valuable a business than another company.

    If your data is 1) Not Backup up properly, and not Recoverable properly, you are likely going out of business if you suffer a major systems or data loss.


    Preparing for the change in your Business

    As your Senior Management jump in with both feet to add new Application Systems  – It is essential for IT Staff to get into these meetings and have their say on What needs to be done to support these new Environments.

    Get in touch, and we’ll help design a new backup system for a ‘small business budget’ that will deliver ‘medium business’ functionality – then rest assured knowing you have a secure means to recover to yesterday, last week or months ago.

    So no matter how fast your business changes it’s Application environment, at least in IT you will have the ‘time machine’ to wind back and rescue the day in the event of unplanned data or systems changes.

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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • When 50 Terabytes was considered a lot of Storage

    August 27, 2016

    Parallel file systems have long been the domain of the HPC/Supercomputer set, characterised by applications running at academic and research institutes.

    Wind the clock back five years and the smaller end of a HPC storage farm, might have been 50 Terabytes.

    Today though, there are

    • Individual Hobbyists running the modern equivalent to a “Pirate radio station”, hosting 50TB of streaming video from their garages
    • Small video post-production houses, with 8 staff, hosting 50-100TB of High Definition -HD video data
    • And smaller commercial organisations (200 staff) performing Analytics and scientific processing who hold 50-200 TB online.

    In our daily client engagements, we find some of these businesses, still attempt to hold and run their ‘mass data’ on Tier 1 vendor storage, often where the price per Terabyte is 2,000 to 3,000 pound per Terabyte.

    This is usually a hangover of a technology or vendor decision made 5 years ago.

    There is no need to do this. Businesses need to find technologies that can deliver 50TB at prices ranging from 500 pound per Terabyte and DECREASING to charges approaching a few hundred pounds per TB for bulk purchases of +200TB.

    Here are the options.

    An increasing number of vendors have developed storage on the Solaris ZFS platform.

    Some of these ZFS based storage systems are still open source, though some have been co-opted into commercially supported platforms such as:

    • Nexenta, as a software only solution where the user builds the hardware platform
    • Or Nexsan NST5000, where a carefully crafted ZFS offering based on Nexsan own arrays and controllers, delivers from 10TB to petabytes at attractive per TB rates, and is fully supported by the vendor (i.e. Nexsan) without the fingerpointing that comes with deploying a software solution on your own hardware
    • ScaleOut platforms such as Gluster (recently acquired by Redhat) and Lustre
    • Proprietary offerings from Isilion (now EMC), BlueArc (now HDS), and NetApp.
      • None of the above 3 candidate’s falls into the £500 decreasing to £200 per TB scope.
    • And other offerings from Quantum, Panasas and others, where aggressive pricing can see the per TB cost potentially approach £500 per TB in the sub 50TB region, and improve once capacities of 100TB and more are considered.

    To learn more about the practical offerings available one your needs exceed 50TB’s, contact us at CD-DataHouse Limited for an informal discussion.

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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • Disaster Recovery and SAN Storage

    June 4, 2016

    Your Blackberry/iPhone flashes up a message from your staff:   ‘The SAN’s down..water leakage from ducting in ceiling’

    This is the single moment every IT Manager dreads.

    Sure – the SAN has redundant Controllers, Dual Power Supplies and was RAIDed with all the options of RAID 10, RAID 6, RAID 50 and RAID 60, but it is still a single chassis, sitting at the bottom of one of your racks:


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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • UK based Managed Backup – both onsite and offsite services

    September 17, 2015

    Managed Backup Services UK


    Having provided Managed Technical Support Services for our Backup Projects (implemented by CDDH, but owned and operated by our customers), for a number of years, we recently jumped in with both feet into Managed Backup Services.

    It is an area we were not prepared to enter, until we could make SIGNIFICANT economic savings for our customers.

    Too many managed service vendors have ‘over-bloated their businesses and cost structure – resulting in them being no more efficient than many of the customers they hope to provide services to.

    This leads to both high charges and at times, a lack of focus, as they attempt to provide you managed backup, managed exchange, and managed everything.

    At CDDH, we’re plain and simply Storage people, leading first with Backup, and then with Storage.

    Our Offerings are based around:

    • Onsite Only Managed Backup
      • Here we manage your entire backup and restore operations, using our technology and hardware (and parts of your hardware) BUT –  located ONLY within your computer rooms and networks
      • No data ever leaves your organisation
      • We supply the entire service on a per Month, Per TB basis


    • Off-Site Managed Backup
      • As per the above, but we also retain a longer term image of the backups, at our Datacentre
      • Backups will reside at your premises for 1-4 weeks as required
      • But the longer term 4weeks – 52 weeks (or more) backup will reside at our Data Centre, both online (disk) and Offline (on Tape)

    All data is stored in our Tier 3 UK based datacentre and can be Encrypted ‘in flight’ across the WAN to our Datacentre, and also be stored Encrypted ‘at rest’ within our Datacentre.

    We can also encrypt the tapes we backup to – meaning Tapes we courier back to you are securein the event of loss in transit.

    Our offers have some unique features in terms of Low WAN Bandwidth usage – typically around 1 to 1.5 Mbps per TB of data we are protecting – which makes the offering ideal for multi-office organisations with offices overseas.

    Our offerings cover both Physical Servers, VMware Hosts, Hyper-V Hosts and Windows and Linux based servers.

    If you’d like to rid yourself and your team of the daily head-ache of backup, get in touch and we can run you through the metrics to see how Managed Backup can work for you.

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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • CommVault IntelliSnap, results from the wild

    August 14, 2015

    The Legacy Backup Situation We FacedCommvault UK Logo

    Recently, one of our long term clients approached us to give their backup environment an overhaul

    Their current backup solution was a slightly outdated version of FalconStor, which we had deployed for them some years earlier

    FalconStor was still doing an excellent job protecting their estate, but it had long since become unmanageable from an administration standpoint

    To find a worthy replacement for FalconStor is a bit of a challenge given that the disk safe agent keeps a real time mirror of their data on the CDP appliance with limited or no overhead, offering a vear zero backup window. The CDP appliance also keeps very flexible point in time snapshots of their data and replicates their data offsite to another CDP appliance

    time1The only downfall for FalconStor was that it was now unmanageable given their current environment had grown to 30 physical servers and 200 VMs (each requiring an agent) and each disk inside each system is effetely managed individually. When the solution was deployed they were mostly physical with a much smaller footprint

    Our chosen replacement solution was CommVault Simpana, a Gartner leader for 5 years runningcommvault gartner quadrant 2015

    Their physical estate was easily protected with the File System, and application specific agents, there is also a CDP agent should they wish to protect specific servers in real time.

    The vast majority of their virtual estate was also protected easily, the nightly backup of over 200 VMs consuming roughly 30TB takes approximately 6 hours with roughly 2TB of daily change

    The Backup Problem

    Unfortunately, there was 1 server that was causing a bit of a problem. It was a 3.5TB File Server with over 1000 users concurrently accessing it (including countless users with outlook pst files, that are highly sensitive to any unresponsiveness from the file server), with a very high rate of change. The client also had a desire to have recovery points of this server every 3 hours like they used to with FalconStor.
    However, using Standard VADP Streaming backups over SAN transport from a HP 3PAR a Full Backup takes over 14 hours and an Incremental Backup takes ~5 hours

    Note: While VADP streaming backups work well for the majority of servers in Virtual estates it can cause performance degradation during backup operations while the snapshot is left open, further to this if the snapshot is kept open for too long on a busy VM, when the snapshot is released it can cause the VM to go unresponsive during consolidation.

    One potential solution to this is to move the VMs disks onto faster storage, in this case moving from NL-SAS onto SAS or even SSD so more IO is available to service the backups. However, given this machine does not require more IO for its production operations we opted for a different solution…

    How we Solved the Problem

    …enter IntelliSnap, CommVault’ s vendor agnostic storage array snapshot orchestration engine.time2

    intellisnapTo create the VMware snapshot then create the hardware (array) snapshot then release VMware snapshot takes ~5 minutes giving us a recovery copy of that VM on the HP 3PAR. A separate process then runs which mounts the storage snapshot and performs the backup against that copy, with no production impact on the live production VM
    The Incremental Backups from the array now takes under 2 hours. This now allows the client to protect their 3.5TB File server every 3 hours, with copies stored both on the SAN and on a separate disk system (also replicated offsite), with a 5-minute production backup window


    In Summary

    Snapshot Backup Technology provides a useful tool for any backup architecture and implementation.

    Our VM ‘Snapshot’ backup is finished in about 5 minutes (though it still resides on the primary SAN)

    After hours, we can ingest that backup from the SAN without impacting End Users day time operations.

    The backup is taken to the Backup Servers ‘bulk backup disk’ and then offsite replicated.

    There’ still a case for true CDP technology such as FalconStor – where there is a Zero backup Window.

    But in this scenario, moving to a single Unified Technology such as CommVault has been a winning move for this customer.

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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • New Features in CommVault Simpana 10 R2

    January 20, 2015

    commvault rectangular ratioCritical Update in Service Pack 9 (SP9)

    Detects changes in disk size that require VMware Changed Block Tacking to be reset and automatically resets CBT when required.

    CommCell Disaster Recovery Failover

    CommCell disaster recovery can now be achieved using a simple and improved disaster recovery failover process. During a disaster, use the new disaster recovery failover process to failover the CommServe functionality to a standby CommServe host and resume the CommCell operations on selected or all clients from the standby CommServe host

    New Features for Virtual Environments


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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • New Features in CommVault Simpana 10 R2 – Condensed

    January 20, 2015

    CommVault SimpanaCritical Update in Service Pack 9 (SP9)

    Detects changes in disk size that require VMware Changed Block Tacking to be reset and automatically resets CBT when required.

    New Features / Functionality

    Live Sync Replication of Virtual Machines
    The Live Sync feature enables incremental replication from a backup of a virtual machine (source VM) to a synced copy of the virtual machine (destination VM).

    Live Mount of Virtual Machines (VMware)
    The Live Mount feature enables you to run a virtual machine directly from a stored backup.

    Live Recovery for Virtual Machines (VMware)
    The Live Recovery feature enables virtual machines (VMs) to be recovered and powered on from a backup without waiting for a full restore of the VM.

    AS/400 (iSeries) Backup Support
    Use the file system agent to back up data and perform file level restores on iSeries clients.

    AlwaysOn MSSQL Availability Groups
    Simpana data protection for AlwaysOn Availability Groups provides a high-availability and disaster-recovery solution for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 databases.

    Citrix Xen Support
    Simpana Version 10 provides support for Virtual machines running on Citrix Xen.

    Oracle Database Archiving
    CommVault’s Oracle Database Archiving solution securely archives and indexes the data no longer accessed while providing seamless access of the archived data from production database

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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • SAP HANA Backup and DR

    November 3, 2014


    SAP HANA is now officially supported by CommVault
    December 2013 was the date for the SAP certification, and CommVault meets the specifications set out in SAP Note 1730932 (Using backup tools with Backint).

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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • Large Exchange Inboxes – Email Archiving

    October 30, 2014

    I previously had a 3GB mailbox – and for the last 12 months spent more time deleteing & shuffling emails to keep within this limit.

    shutterstock_142224511We have now migrated our Exchange Systems to Microsoft Office 365, and now have the luxury of a 50GB Exchange Email inbox.

    Having all your email online is a joy – all our important documents flow through the email system.

    No matter where you are you can find what you need – by searching exchange from your smartphone, or a web browser – It’s a huge productivity boon.

    Email Challenges for IT Departments

    Some corporates though, are not prepared to put their email in the cloud, but are under pressure to provide large inbox’s for their users.

    How do you then handle a 500 User  x 10GB per user Exchange Server – i.e. a 5 Terabyte Exchange system?

    1. Backing this up will be a challenge
    2. The Storage Requirement  is a challenge
    3. And a restore in the event of corruption would also be a challenge

    Yes – You could use DAG Pairs/Triplets, and do so with delayed replication to the other DAG members.

    But that won’t help you in a single site business and it won’t help you guaranteeing a ‘once per month’ solid backup of your Exchange database –  specifically an, AIR GAPPED BACKUP

    Air Gapped – that is off line, away from any form of online security breach of your systems and away from an online hacker joyfully deleting all of your email.

    Tape is the ideal medium here – Robust, Low Cost, High performance, and you can easily move Tape offline and away to another secure location.

    shutterstock_138508289 300 600

    Email Archiving

    It now becomes essential to look at some form of Exchange management.

    We all know that 95% of email rapidly drops to a low frequency of access.

    But we all know it needs to be online and instantly searchable.

    Here email ‘Active Archiving’ plays a key role.

    1) Set your policies to move Attachments older than 2 months outside of the Exchange Database

    That will immediately reduce your Exchange size by 85% or so.

    2) From there, you might want to tackle emails older than 5 Years being ‘short cut’ to the Archive, leaving the email header and the first few lines of the email

    In most case, you have likely shrunk our 5TB Exchange Database down to 400GB or so.

    And it is this 400GB component that will sit on your ‘faster Tier 1 SAN disk’ and be your daily target for backup and DR.

    The Archive component (which would be 4.5TB and larger) can be set to be archived to once per month, and that will sit on our slower disk, and be part of a once per month backup cycle.

    Critical to Know

    It’s critical to know -that Active Archiving means  ALL this data is online.

    The user will still see their attachments, and when clicked and it’s still retrieved.

    All we have done is moved the attachment ‘out of exchange’ to an ‘archive.’


    Email Archiving Solution(s)

    We work with a number of Solutions; though our favourite has always been CommVaults Email Archive and Compliance system.

    (It is an integral part of their backup technology – or runs stand-alone)

    In August 2014, CommVault introduced new pricing structures for:

    1) Capacity Based Archiving

    2) Or per Mailbox based Archiving

    It has made a huge difference – and we now have pricing structures for CommVault Simpana Archiving that are affordable to businesses of 50 people.

    I’m glad they’ve made this change and we expect to see a Ten-fold increase in CommVault Email Archiving solutions in 2015.





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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
  • Restore my VM from VMware to Hyper-V

    October 12, 2014

    CommVaults recent updates have introduced new and useful features into the Simpana 10 family.

    Any VMware VM backed up can now be directly restored into Hyper V.

    Better Still – This is a reversable process – Hyper_v VM’s can be restored into VMware


    Here are some use cases we can see:

    • Test/Dev:
      1. Your Production environment is VMware, but for cost or other reasons you have a range of existing Hyper-V server
      2. The Dev team can use Simpana to create their Hyper-V VM’s from VMware


    • Disaster Recovery
      1. You might have VMware running in production at your Head Office Data centre, but the branch offices  use Hyper-V
      2. Your branch offices are backed up across the WAN the HeadOffice
      3. You can now DR, restore and run those Branch Office Hyper-V  VM’s back at Head-Office
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    CD-DataHouse - Storage Systems and Data Protection
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