Three of the big headlines so far this year have been data growth, the economy and data deduplication in backup. The first headline, relentless data growth, is the root cause of most issues in the backup environment. In an effort to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) for data backup and recovery, more and more organizations are deploying disk in the backup process. With disk, IT organizations can better meet backup windows and recovery objectives. But as IT "modernizes" its backup infrastructure with disk-to-disk backup, new problems emerge -- specifically, the cost of managing copies stored on disk, and the feasibility of taking disk-based backup copies and making them portable for offsite and/or long-term storage.
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Deduplication addresses the first issue -- it changes the economics of disk-based backup, allowing more data to be stored in a smaller footprint. The second problem is the new pain point for end users that have adopted disk. How can they rapidly, securely, cost-effectively, and efficiently get data offsite for disaster recovery (DR) or long-term retention? Sure, most target devices with deduplication can replicate copies, but is the backup application's catalog aware of the copy? That's where Symantec Corp. Veritas NetBackup OpenStorage (OST) technology comes in.
Symantec announced its NetBackup OpenStorage initiative a few years ago. It is designed to allow NetBackup users to utilise third-party storage solutions without the need for tape emulation.
Available as an option for NetBackup 6.5 and higher, NetBackup OpenStorage gives NetBackup a common interface for third-party disk targets. NetBackup sees OST-enabled appliances as disk, enabling features such as intelligent capacity management, media server load balancing, reporting, and lifecycle policies. It also delivers optimized duplication. Without OST, NetBackup media servers have to manage all duplicate backup copies, which means that data must be transferred across the LAN, WAN, or SAN from the primary site secondary storage to a NetBackup media server and then to the disaster recovery site storage medium (i.e., another appliance of the same type or tape media). With OST, the OST-enabled device is doing the replication and the data path does not include NetBackup media servers. This means that only changed segments are replicated, creating savings in bandwidth and, importantly, time. NetBackup is aware of all copies and those copies follow established retention policies.
Symantec Technology Enabled Program (STEP) partners -- such as Data Domain, EMC Corp., FalconStor Software, and Quantum Corp. -- leverage the NetBackup OpenStorage technology API to create plug-ins for their storage systems. OST allows for backup data to be stored on disk with whatever protocol the target device uses, such as a Fibre Channel or TCP/IP. Based on NetBackup policies or commands, the OST-enabled device will create, duplicate or delete copies.
One of the more interesting byproducts of the use of the NetBackup OpenStorage interface is the performance improvement in backup. Several STEP partners with an OST-enabled solution claim 50% to100% improvement in backup performance. Richard Nosal, a server administrator for High Point Regional Health System in Greensboro, N.C., implemented the NetBackup OST option with a Data Domain DD660 and saw his pre-OST 10-hour backup window with a virtual tape library cut in half.
Since the NetBackup catalog is aware of all copies, recovery of data from a NetBackup OpenStorage-optimized duplicate copy is the same as recovery from another duplicate. Through NetBackup's Backup-Archive-Restore GUI, the OST-optimized duplicate copy can be designated as the primary copy and then a full or granular recovery can be initiated. The potential time savings over recovery from a non-OST-optimized duplicate could be significant.