Ok, so I have a VMware environment… why should I use AppAssure to protect it?

 Posted on behalf of Joe Hand, AppAssure Product Strategy

This kind of question comes up often, believe it or not…Some people think their current solution will do the job while others feel that some of the first-generation “VM Only” products, which of course should be good at it since it’s all they focus on…are the only way to go.

Think hard on the fact that if you’ve been using a single data protection solution for several years, it was first engineered when the VM concept was either in its early stages or didn’t exist at all. Anything that has been added to it since then has likely been retrofitted. Or, if you acquired one of the early VM-only solutions, they too lack the functional and performance capabilities required to solve the backup problems faced in today’s
hybrid virtual/physical/cloud environments.

Problems like what? The first one is the dreaded backup window. Legacy product’s backup windows are by their nature limited to a recovery point objective (RPO) of 24 hours. You run it at night to avoid the hit on the
production servers. But what if your next major outage is after 5PM the next day? In that case you lose an entire days’ worth of data. What about the restore process? In most IT departments,
the formula is that a restore takes, on average, twice as long as a full backup. Over the years, we have, as a computing people, grown to accept this. How about the validity of the data? In most shops, the verify option is the first thing to go when you start exceeding your backup window as it almost doubles the time to back up the data. But even if you run verification, can you be sure that the verified backup usable? What if you have backed up a corrupted database? Since most verifies simply compare the original block to the backup block, how would you know? To combat this, we IT professionals do the only thing we can… random restores! A huge time sink that doesn’t give us visibility into the other backups nor, most likely, the one you need to rely on.

What about disaster recoveries? Most backup products only allow you to back up data. To go off site you need to deploy very expensive hardware & software to create a disaster recovery infrastructure.

Then there’s AppAssure. From the beginning, we set out to build something different. Something that can actually tackle some of these issues that have been around since backup was conceived. It all starts with a series of drivers that interact with both the volume and the VSS components of Windows. Utilizing a process called Changed Block Tracking or CBT, blocks are identified in real time as they are written to. This is similar to the native support on VMware for CBT, but AppAssure’s approach also works on two other virtual platforms as well as any physical machines you are running. AppAssure creates a very lightweight snapshot of the VM from the inside that causes an unnoticeable 1 – 2% hit on the other resources to carry out as many backups as you need, up to 288 per day. The result is one of the best RPOs in the industry, but without causing an impact to production machines.

On AppAssure’s core server, where all the ‘heavy lifting’ associated with backups takes place, the delta changes that are received get stored in an object-based store that can scale to Exabytes, spanning multiple
disk platforms in one deduped domain. When you back up your most critical servers, including your SQL and Exchange servers, you get the added benefit of Recovery Assure, a process that proactively tests the databases for mountability and corruption. You actually get to sleep at night knowing you can restore your data without failure. Lastly, when it is time to do a restore, the options are limitless. Just use the inside view the agent provides of everything from a complete image of the system to the smallest file or email, and anything in between, all a few mouse clicks away. If you’re facing a disaster, you simply replicate the data to another location where the data can be reconstituted in real time into a virtual machine after each successful snap from production, giving you a complete push-button failover.

Today’s challenges are not the same as yesterday’s. The advances made in modern-day computing allow us to achieve unheard of levels of performance and the flexibility to do just about anything. AppAssure is
designed to meet today’s challenges so it’s again possible to protect that ever-evolving world called the datacenter, meeting the challenges of enhanced RPOs and RTOs for your most critical systems.

For more information on Dell AppAssure, go to www.dell.com/appassure

About the author
Joseph Hand has been in the backup and recovery industry for the last 17 years focusing on the Microsoft Windows platform and Windows based application such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint Server. He has been working with AppAssure since the beginning in 2006. In his spare time, he is a semi-professional photographer, a drummer & lead singer for a classic rock cover band, and a husband & father of three beautiful daughters. Follow him on twitter @josephhand

About the Author: Alison Krause