Demonstrating Avamar BMR with EMC vLab

This is a screencast demonstrating and performing bare metal restores with Avamar. This was the first time I’ve used EMC’s vLab and I was very impressed.  EMC’s vLab alows you to provision work loads online to demonstrate and train on EMC’s technologies.


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Backing up and restoring VMWARE with Avamar

Starting Monday June 11th I’ll be participating in an online Q&A regarding backing up VMware with Avamar on EMC’s community network. If you support any EMC products you probably know how valuable the ECN network is. EMC has created and invested greatly in growing what has become a an active online community, where techs can engage with EMC knowledge experts. I met some of the guys from ECN while at EMC world and shared with them some of my experience, including building the Avamar grid to backup VMware for my companies cloud computing solution. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my learnings from this project.


The thread will be open for a few weeks and I’ll be logging in once a day to answer any questions.

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EMC World 2012 Wrap-Up

This was the first year I attended EMC World and it was pretty amazing. The logistics behind the event are amazing. Take for instance the dining hall. 1000 tables, each seats 6-8 people. Over 300 servers and another 300 cooks in the back. The Venetian did a great job hosting this event, although the hotel in-suite wireless was hit and miss. There were 4 floors of meeting rooms for the breakout sessions, these rooms seat anywhere from 200 to a few thousand. Not to mention Hall A that could host every one of the 15,000 attendees for the keynotes. The lab area sat 200 users and hosted a selection of over 30 labs. I was disappointed how few technology experts my company sent. Make no mistake, this a tech event. You can send all the sales guys in the world, but you need you experts to be able to be there to see the value and identify the opportunities presented. The labs were great, although I wish there were more specific to backup and recovery. When planning for the event I tried to fill my agenda with breakout sessions. I didn’t realize how much more there was to see. I don’t think I made it into the solutions pavilion until day 3. A lot of time was spent in the bloggers lounge where I had the opportunity to meet some of EMC’s best and brightest. The interactive aspect of the event cannot be ignored. If you plan on attending EMC world in the future and you are not on twitter, get on it. I met so many people prior to the event via some online interaction. So to wrap up, if you’re a hands on technologist looking for some new ideas to resolve some pain points for a client or an SE neck deep in EMC tech, this event can’t be missed. As long as I’m this deep into Avamar, NetWorker and Data Domain I will continue to go.


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EMC and Data Protection Unification

A constant theme in all the Backup/Recovery sessions I have attended has been about the integration of Avamar, Data Domain, NetWorker, major applications and VM’s. I didn’t realize how much work EMC Backup has done in this area. I was pretty impressed to see the work that has been done in NetWorker to provide a single interface to manage the backup infrastructure in these products.  It’s interesting to hear this message from EMC and I think it is one that they should promote more. The single pane is very compelling to most customers. EMC has done a great job on positioning Avamar, NetWorker and Data Domain to provide specific benefits in data protection. Administration of these systems as well as application recoveries (including RMAN) can be completed via the NetWorker GUI.

I had not explored the virtualization monitoring area of NetWorker before, but I can see the huge value it adds after seeing it. The VM visualization screen shows the entire VM infrastructure and reports on how your virtual machines are backed up, but more importantly which systems aren’t.  The focus on best practices were on leveraging VADP and DD Boost for ever broadening application support.




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Data Domain long term retention

Data domain long term retention has increased focus on the convergence of backup and archive. Traditionally archive data has belonged in the tape backup wheelhouse. Maybe if RTO of archive data is important you may consider nearline storage on inexpensive disk.
Of course, Data Domain continues its campaign to assassinate tape backup. Now they are setting their sight on tape archives. By leveraging global dedupe across primary backup and archive space to discover greater savings and minimize archive silos into a single solution. There is a huge market in disk archives and DD hopes to capture more data with this new feature.

Governance, Industry requirements and legal require increased data retentions to meet their requirements. With data growth exploding, maintaining cost efficient data storage by introducing some kind of archive solution has become the status quo.

Most customers have in the past or are currently using their backup apps to create archives. Maybe to tape maybe to disk. Others may have purchased another product that may be a mix of hardware and software to move infrequently accessed data.
Data Domain loves to remind us of the challenges with tape. Sometimes I wonder after drinking a big old glass of Data Domain kool-aid how we ever get data recovered from tape. I feel some of the challenges are exaggerated. The challenges stated include migration from media as tape technologies evolve, security and SLA. Disk also has its challenges, predominately scalability.

With DD extended retention they hope to entice more customers to move archive data to DD. The extended retention solution is a software option available for the new DD990 and the DD860. Existing 860’s can be upgraded. and the 990 scales to 65 PB. Data is written to the active tier and then automatically moved to the archive tier. DDboost, VTL, CIFS, NFS protocols are supported. The archive tier can also be used in replication.

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What’s new with Data Domain at EMC World 2012



Data Domain was a great acquisition for EMC when they purchased the deduplication appliance manufacturer in 2009. I was in Santa Clara on training at the EMC campus there when the news broke. “What are we going to do!” said one of the EMC VTL sales guys in the classroom. When I asked what the issue was he advised? “We have been trashing Data Domain for years, and then we go and buy them?” The EMC VTL product line was very successful for the company, but Data Domain started a very important conversation that created a paradigm shift in how we backup data.

Now at EMC World in 2012, we seem a long way off from the DD200 with it 1.25 TB of storage. So what’s new?

The new DD OS 5.2 code will feature better inline data verification. Where after data is written to the DD the code will continue to look for disk IO errors and correct instantly. Adaptive data scrubbing ensure data remains recoverable and reverifies every 34 weeks without impacting performance.

Also this week the DD990 was released. Here are some highlights.

  • Backup up to 248 TB in 8 hour backup window with 31 TB/hr throughput
  • Protect up to 65 PB of logical capacity for long-term backup retention
  • Replicate up to 270 remote sites into a single system
  • Consolidate backup and archive data
  • Available in a preconfigured rack.

The extended retention software is no longer a separate system. It is now a software feature available for DD860 and DD990. Currently deployed DD860’s can be upgraded with this feature.

EMC’s focus in the Backup recovery portfolio is defiantly on integration with its own products as well as with the business critical applications in the enterprise. The message has been to keep Data Domain vendor agnostic and some of these new features reinforce this ideology. With DDBoost for Oracle recovery manager DBA’s can retain the control they love to realize faster restores by minimizing the touch points required to restore data and keeping the RMAN catalog aware of all copies of the database. Also added is DDoost for vRanger. In addition NetBackup gets some love with support for NetBackup synthetics.

Other enhancements include mtree quotas to control logical space consumed. Soft and hard quotas can be configured for application specific allocations. Also granular management for mtree replication with DD extended retention system has been added by creating vpools as mtrees.





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Avamar 6.1 brings a long awaited enhancement and much more


I was really looking forward to the “what’s new in Avamar” session and it didn’t disappoint. Here is what is new in 6.1


New extended and deeper support added: SAP, Sybase, Hyper V

I don’t and never have worked in an environment with SAP, so I didn’t notice that this wasn’t supported. This was kind of a surprise. Tucci indicated in the keynote a deeper relationship with SAP and there was a demonstration of some SAP storage integration that was interesting. I would think this is part of a larger strategy that had been overlooked and EMC is now playing catch up to piggy back on some SAP business, at least with Avamar anyway. Hyper V is a nice addition.  Hyper V’s wheelhouse is small and medium size business. This integration with maybe would get Avamar into that space. The product price point had in the past excluded this market from Avamar, but with AVE this could be a possibility. Also supports hot and cold backups as well as the BR tools interface and all OS and architectures.



Avamar 6.1 introduces corrupted block detection to provide self-healing capability with Oracle as well as backup support for flash recovery area AND DD boost support!



Improved DAG tracking and a great feature to ignore duplicate replicas and increase backup efficiency as well as auto recognize new and capture new DAGs.



Added multi streams to Avamar data stores as well as DD for  4x faster backup and recovery.


New Clients

Avamar has always had huge support for a variety of clients and they keep adding more. Some new stand outs are Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS and pretty much every flavor and architecture of Solaris.



Finally, single pass image and file level coverage for Linux clients introduced. Now you can give those Linux VM’s the same protection your Windows VM’s have enjoyed. Also an integrated proxy is introduced to protect both Linux and Windows. If that wasn’t enough there is also disk level granularity to exclude swap and OS disk if desired and increase backup efficiency. In addition there is better protection for thin  provisioned disk to protect only required data.


Performance and scalability

To address increased data growth backup efficiency cannot be ignored. Many new integration’s and enhancments with Data Domain Boost including Hyper V, Exchange, SharePoint, Oracle,  SAP and Sybase. Also increased control to direct these apps to Avamar DS or DD. Multi streaming of SQL, Sybase and Hyper V has been improved


Avamar Extended Retention

This has been Avamar’s achilles heel for years that has excluded it from customers that require the longer retention periods. It is an addition 7 TB node that acts as a staging area for backup and recoveries. It provides granular control of retention’s for data sets and supports all apps, OS and architectures via FC connectivity to VTL or physical library.


Anyway, all this was huge news. Avamar 6.1 is available in RA now and will be GA in June.

The video below is a demonstration posted by Denis Jannot at http://www.recorditblog.com/


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It’s here! EMC World 2012


Landed in Vegas for EMC world 2012. I’m trying not to be impressed but really can’t help it. I can take or leave Vegas, but there is a reason there are so many conferences here. Only these casinos could host an event of this size. There will be 15,000 registered attendees, over 100 exhibitors and tons of learning opportunities.

I had requested my company send me to EMC world this year, as I am neck deep in EMC technologies with my current client. Outside of visiting Vegas and having a few beverages I’m asking myself, what do I really want to get out of the conference?
Here is a short list of what I’m hoping to hear.

– New features in Avamar, NetWorker and DataDomain.
EMC has been slowly integrating these assets more and more. NetWorker has seen some much needed improvements and integration with Avamar and DataDomain to provide that sexy data deduplication it was lacking. I’m hoping to hear the long awaited Avamar tape out solution that will hopefully be the magic bullet and help get the product into places where the data retention make it insufficient.

– What’s next?
In 2010 data deduplication became the latest buzz in backups. What’s next now that every vendor has implemented it? What is the next great innovation that will enable us to move data faster from A to B? Quantum teleportation? Maybe EMC can hire Criss Angel to magically move 1’s and 0’s? I joke but really I think EMC can easily spend the next fours years creating better integration with these three products. They have done some great things, but they need to do amazing things with these three products. They almost need to be a single product with each of the three being treated as options that can easily be bolted on to address a challenge.

I hope to learn a few things, meet and pick the brains of some NetWorker and Avamar experts regarding best practices and day to day maintenance of these systems. I started this blog as an opportunity to document NetWorker learnings as I am relatively new to it. This conference presents itself as a massive learning opportunity for myself and my client. We have some of the typical challenges in a large enterprise environment. Too much data, shrinking backup windows. I think I’m pretty knowledgable in how to address these challenges, either by data lifecycle management, leveraging storage technologies or data dedupe at the backup end. I’m hoping there is something I’m missing that is really new and really innovative. Maybe Chris Angel will be at the keynote?

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Recommended Reading

I’ve said it before but it should be repeated. I’m not very smart. Part of being a good I.T. support guy is not knowing the answers, but knowing where to quickly get the answers. When I first started in I.T. I worked as a desktop analyst  supporting Wintel systems. A quick search of Google usually  found the solution to the issue. Moving into backup/recovery/storage, the problems got harder, had more serious consequences and answers were more difficult to come by. So in addition to reading manuals and training, these three books have been good resources for me. There are many more books on backup and recovery out there. I generally don’t really enjoy reading these things in my spare time, so these are the only three I have on my shelf. (one of which I haven’t read yet) These books actually followed the evolution of my career to inform accordingly. Culminating in the final book that I plan to leverage to influence decision makers for my client.


Sans and NAS

This book was really helpful when I was first getting my feet wet in the backup and storage world.


Backup and Recovery

A great resource to have around. I found this book helpful as a reference for a presentation I was giving to a project manager on backup technologies. The first chapter maps out the evolution of backup recovery in the enterprise.

Enterprise Backup and Recovery: A corporate Insurance Policy

I haven’t read this yet, but it looks very promising. It appears to be more about policies and best practices for management and architecture to address challenges. Preston presents a backup system as not just a collection of servers software and targets, but also policy and ownership in the corporate structure. I may crack it this week while in Vegas for EMC world. Hopefully it will make me sound smarter.


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ECN introduces RAMP

On April 24th, ECN introduced RAMP. A Recognition, Award, and Motivation Program for the ECN community. Reward systems and recognition are not new to online tech communities. It’s been around long before the term “gamification” was coined. Points and badges are awarded for community contributions and completing “missions”. There will be some live missions to be completed at EMC World 2012 in Vegas next month. I like the ECN community, I always mean to book some time every week to take some time to engage there to share and learn from and with others. Given that I’m neck deep in EMC technologies right now I really should make a better effort. My personal data map dance card is getting increasingly full. When I say data map, I’m referring to all my online engagement and tracking. Here is a break down of my data map and some interconnects.

I find an interesting webpage and want to save it. I bookmark it on Delicious. My personal website has a plugin that lists my Delicious bookmarks. Delicious itself has a sharing option where any and all links I tweet are automatically bookmarked. My twitter is also connected to LinkedIn and will update my status there based on a tweet. Also every time I upload or favorite a video on YouTube this is shared on twitter and pushed to LinkedIn. This is just a small potion of my data map. There is also GetGlue to track media consumption, Nike plus to track my runs and not to mention foursquare and socialcast.  Some of these social networks also engage gamification in different ways. The first thing I look for on a new online community is how I can integrate it with all the other networks in my data map? I’m looking forward to seeing this in ECN and RAMP. Here is my wish list.

Forward and reverse integration with twitter and LinkedIn. – Share badges, points, blog posts…basically push all ECN activity out and let the user granularily select what to share based on preferences. This activity will promote ECN out on these other social networks and draw in new users.

Automatically update my ECN blog space from a RSS feed on my hosted blog

Allow YouTube embed in create video section


I’m sure the smart guys at EMC already have these plans in the pipe. Looking forward to it.

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