Veeam, more than a backup?

In this episode I speak to Micheal Cade of Veeam.

We discuss whether Veeam are more than a “virtualisation backup company”?, what’s new and interesting in the data protection industry?  and how public cloud providers are providing new an interesting methods for protecting our data.

There is also a bonus, thanks to the NetApp TechONTAP podcast team, who provided me with some additional material from Michael’s recent appearance on their show, outlining what’s new in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5.

Hope you enjoy the episode, if you did, then please subscribe. You can find the interview podcast on Soundcloud, ITunes or wherever you normally get your podcasts.

If you’d like to find out more from Michael and what he does at Veeam, you can find him on twitter @MichaelCade1

His blog can be found at vzilla.co.uk 

Additional information about Veeam can be found at Veeam.com

If you’d like more from the TechONTAP podcast team you can find them on techontappodcast.com

If you’d like more information on anything covered in this episode you can also find me in all the usual places.

 @techstringy on twitter
 Or drop me a note via the contact form below.

Insights from the storage industry?

Last week I was away in Berlin at NetApp’s Insight conference (See what IFD572BD3-226B-428F-B6F4-849481A8B842.jpg did with the title there!) always an enjoyable event with good information, company, food and the occasional large German beer. That aside, I do try to attend a handful of these types of events a year as a part of my job.

How does it benefit my job?

A big part of my role is to identify key industry trends and challenges and to see whether our technology partners are developing solutions to take these on and help our customers to adapt and modernise their IT and maintain competitive edge in a fast changing business world. Whether that’s Microsoft, one of our  data management and security providers, or, as in this case a storage provider like NetApp. We need to know our partners are still delivering relevant solutions.

So how did NetApp measure up ?

Our answer to this is usually found in the keynote sessions, that’s the home of strategic presentations and product announcements, Insight was no exception.

Understanding the problems?

Did the NetApp leadership address the fundamental challenges that we are seeing?

Three messages really stood out for me at the event, each hit key concerns I see in my daily dealings with senior IT people.

Data is critical

Data was at different times the new gold, new oil and the new digital currency, but ultimately it was THE most important thing, it was the key focus of pretty much everything covered across the four days and that’s how it should be, it’s our businesses most critical asset, it’s the thing that has the opportunity to separate us from our competition by extracting true value, whether that’s better reporting, better analytics or more flexibility in movement from on-prem to cloud and back. Getting the best from it is a major goal for us all.WP_20161114_15_51_23_Rich_LI.jpg

This focus was refreshing it also included coining the phrase;

NetApp not the last independent storage vendor but the first data management company

That works for me, my conversations these days are never speeds and feeds based, much more around outcomes and aims, tick in the box then.

DevOps it

You just can’t have an IT discussion these days without throwing around the phrase DevOps – I’d be disappointed to be honest if it wasn’t brought up – I’m not even going to attempt to try to do justice to the breadth of the topic here, there’s lots of great DevOps content out there (For an excellent DevOps intro have a listen to the Tech ONTAP Podcast episode with Gene Kim here ) .

I think often we assume this kind of stuff is just about software development, but in my mind it’s much more about the way we are looking to consume technology in our businesses, IT cannot be an impediment to us doing business, the modern business needs to be able to respond quickly to new challenges and we need to have an IT infrastructure that can not only change but one we are not afraid to change when we need to.

There was a great session with a day in the life of DevOps, that although played for laughs, brought home the importance of automation, the ability to fail fast and how to manage modern development processes, of course with a healthy bit of how things like NetApp’s integration with Docker, access to API’s with both ONTAP and Solidfire can all help build a modern agile data infrastructure.

Integrating the cloud

NetApp has talked extensively about their data fabric message for the last couple of years, many of you know I’m a fan (for example Data Fabric – what is it good for). The driver behind the fabric is the reality, that for most of us and our IT infrastructure, the future is going to be hybrid, some stuff on prem, some stuff in the cloud. But this kind of hybrid environment comes with challenges, no challenge bigger than how we move data between our on-prem and cloud environments, and not just how we move the datasets around, but how we ensure that it remains under our control, secure and protected and does not end up living in a cloud storage silo.

Insight this year showed the maturity of what NetApp have been doing in this space, not only with the additional capabilities they added to the NetApp portfolio, closer integration of ONTAP and Alta Vault, the announcement of SnapMirror to Solidfire, the enhancements to ONTAP cloud with additional capabilities in AWS as well as support for Azure, but also the introduction of a couple of really interesting solutions that don’t need any “traditional” NetApp solutions at all.

Cloud Sync allows for the movement and conversion of data between an on-prem NFS datastore up into AWS’s analytics tools, designed  to greatly simplify the usage of services such as EMR. Alongside this is Cloud Control a solution to help protect the contents of your Office 365 services, email, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, giving you the ability to back data from these services into anything from your NetApp based on-prem storage to storage blobs in Azure and AWS. Impressively both of these are just services that you can sign up to, point at the relevant cloud services and away you go, no requirement for any other NetApp tech if you don’t want it.

What I like about this is it shows their commitment to data, it’s no longer about selling you ONTAP or FAS hardware (even though they remain great platforms) but about helping us to enable our data to be used in this quickly changing technology and business world.

Did NetApp deliver what I was looking for?

Certainly for me they did, as I said right at the start, when I get time with key technology partners I’m looking to see if they are addressing the primary issues we and our customers are seeing and are they understanding the key technology trends, personally I think at Insight NetApp nailed it and will continue to be very relevant in the modern data management world.

So good job NetApp.

I hope you enjoyed the post, if you want some further info from Insight, here’s some resources you may find useful.

While I was out there I got to do a couple of interviews with key NetApp staff that were recorded for their YouTube channel.

I chatted here with Elliot Howard about the wider challenges that customers see and how NetApp and it’s partners can help;

On this video I spoke with Grant Caley NetApp UK’s chief technologist and asked about industry trends and how they are going to effect out storage usage in the future;

Finally I also spoke with some of the attendees at the event to see what they thought of Insight and tech conferences in general. You can find that here on TechStringy Interviews – or go get the podcast from iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

 

 

 

 

TechStringy Interview – Tech Conferences, are they worth it?

I’ve just come back from NetApp’s Insight technical conference in Berlin, and like many in the IT industry I get invited to lots of these events. I’m sure we all do and some of them we attend some we don’t. Attending a conference though begs the question;

Are they worth attending at all?

I think that’s a fair question, personally I always find something useful at these events and NetApp Insight is amongst my favourites, always a great mix of content, networking and a chance to catch up with old friends and of course make some new ones.

That’s all fine for me, someone working in the technology industry, but what about people who actually use the stuff, those who invest their businesses hard earned money in deploying technology, is there benefit in investing more money in attending these large vendor led  conferences?

With that in mind while out at Insight, I thought I’d ask that very question, So on the last day I got time with two NetApp (And Gardner Systems) customers at the event, Mark Waterfield of Gardner Aerospace and Jon Woan of Vital Energi, both use NetApp extensively across their businesses, alongside a wide range of other technologies. This was Marks first visit to this event, while Jon was a returning attendee.wp_20161114_09_09_12_rich_li

They were also joined by my colleague Jason Fitzgerald as the three of them gave their views on technology conferences in general, did they think this one was worth attending, would they come again and what advice did they have for people considering similar investments to attend tech conferences.

I hope you enjoy the podcast, if you want to find out more about my views on Insight check techstringy.com this week for a full round up.

If you want to keep up with the guests on the podcast you can find Jon Woan on Twitter @jonwoan and Jason Fitzgerald on the twitters @jay_fitzgerald

Enjoy the episode

 

The power of community – a chat with TechUG’s Mike England

Recently I was asked to present at the Tech UG event in Leeds, for those who know me, they’ll know I’m a big supporter of investing in and supporting IT community. Working more closely with your IT professional peer groups has lots of benefits and is chance to build some great relationships.

If you are keen to involve yourself more with the wider IT community, what’s a good way to get started?

A great step is technology user groups, these are normally events run in your local region, organised and run by a dedicated group of your local IT peers, people who see the benefit and power of community, of sharing knowledge and ideas with people who share their passion.

One such group are Tech UG, they run events in 8 cities across the UK and run a variety of sessions and different technology streams.

At the recent event in Leeds I caught up with Mike England, Chief Operating Officer for Tech UG for a quick chat, we discussed the aims of Tech UG and how we as members of the community can use their forum to our benefit, be it helping us to address a challenge, learn about new tech, or just to build our professional network.

Enjoy the interview with Mike and if TechUG sounds like something for you, check out their details and how to contact them below and hopefully we’ll catch up at an event in the future;

The Tech UG website

Follow Tech UG on twitter

Follow Mike on twitter

 

Make my cloud so…

A bit of a Star Trek misquote I know, but I’m pretty sure Captain Picard would have said that as the ships IT department looked to enable their hybrid cloud strategy. For many of us, hybrid cloud is the reality of our future IT designs, the flexibility provided by access to cloud compute and storage, both technically and commercially makes cloud services compelling in many instances.

However, those compelling cases do come with a cost. Using hugely scalable public cloud technologies presents challenges, application architecture, system design but more often than not they are data issues, security, governance, protection or even just moving big lumps of data around, all add to the challenge that comes with trying to enable these flexible cloud based services.

With that in mind, I took great interest in NetApp’s November 1st Hybrid Cloud announcements (You can find the press release here), especially the very strong emphasis on enablement, this was not your usual product range announcement. Often these announcements are almost “self serving”, get a new widget from, buy our updated solution or platform. Don’t get me wrong there is an element of that in these NetApp announcements, with updates to a couple of major products, but what was really interesting was the cloud service solutions that where mentioned, technologies that where not your “traditional” NetApp solution, no need for a hardware array, no need for ONTAP or anything else, these where purely service offerings that are designed for no other reason than to address the significant challenge of enabling our integration with cloud services.

I don’t plan on going into detail on all of the announcements, check out a great post like this from Mike Andrews (@trekintech) for wider analysis, I just wanted to look at a couple of the more generic cloud enablement solutions, that don’t need any “traditional” NetApp components.

Cloud Control for Office 365

In my experience, one of the early cloud integrations an enterprise will make is Office365, taking advantage of Microsoft’s Software as a service offering for email, document management and file storage. These services, which although critical, are often time intensive to deliver, while providing little additional value to the business, “table stakes” if you will, a company must have these things, but they are not going to give competitive advantage.

Giving it to Microsoft to run makes perfect sense, however one thing that is often missed when a business moves to 365 is data protection. Microsoft’s role is clear, it is to present you with a secure, scalable and resilient service, however it is not to protect your data. 365 offers several options for data retention, however, Microsoft do not protect you from data deletion, accidental or malicious, once that data is gone, it’s gone.

So how do you protect it? There is a growing market of solutions to this challenge and NetApp have now thrown their hat in to the ring with an extremely comprehensive offering.

Cloud Control is a full SaaS offering, no need to purchase equipment, or install anything on prem, take it as a service, point it at your 365 subscription and you have the capability to back up your Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business repositories.

What separates Cloud Control, in my opinion, is the number of possible backup targets you can use. If you have a NetApp environment, that’s great, you can take your 365 data and back it straight into your ONTAP environment, don’t have on-prem ONTAP? no problem, you can spin up ONTAP cloud and back off to that.

Don’t want ONTAP at all? Use AltaVault from the NetApp portfolio to move your data to an object store and of course, you don’t want anything at all from NetApp, no problem Cloud Control will allow you to move data straight into an AWS S3 bucket or an Azure storage blob.

Cloud Control provides granular data protection, with item level recovery for your 365 implementation, enabling you to deliver enterprise level data protection to your public cloud service.

Cloud Sync

A key benefit of cloud compute is the ability to get masses of processing power as and when you need it, without having to build a big compute cluster which spends most of its time idle.

Things like Hadoop are fantastic tools for data analytics, but it’s one heck of an expensive tool to deploy and has taken big data analytics away from many enterprises.

However, cloud providers like AWS have addressed this with services available to rent as you need them. The trick with these is, how do you move data to that analytics engine as and when you need it? how do we seamlessly integrate these services into our infrastructure?

Step forward the Cloud Sync service. Cloud Sync points at your on-prem NFS datastore (no it doesn’t have to be ONTAP based NFS) and your analytics service and seamlessly syncs the on-prem data to the analytics engine when needed, allowing you to take advantage of cloud compute, while ensuring your datasets are always refreshed.

Cloud Sync is all about automating those difficult tasks, and in modern IT, that is exactly what we are looking for, orchestrating the use of cloud compute allowing us to consume services in the most effective way.

Again, delivering this without the need for any of the more “traditional” NetApp technologies.

But Why?

I suppose this begs the question, why as a storage vendor, build solutions, that actively have no need for your storage products? Well let’s not be fooled, both of these services are NetApp subscription services, and of course both solutions can enhance existing NetApp technology, however I don’t think that’s the primary aim.

If you’ve ever looked at any of NetApp’s Data Fabric strategy, you’ll see that they are a very different storage company, who are much happier to talk about data strategy than selling you things, of course they have things that can enable your strategy, but a conversation about how we manage our data in this modern IT world, I see as something far more valuable than just selling something a bit faster, with a few more flashing lights, getting us to think about how we move, manage and secure data is far more important.

These November 1st announcements are just another example of NetApp’s commitment to its Data Fabric and how the right fabric can enable an organisation to fully exploit cloud flexibility, I very much look forward to seeing these solutions in action as they come to market and of course keen to see what NetApp add next to this increasingly impressive hybrid cloud story.

Cloud enabled captain…

For more detail on NetApp’s cloud solutions visit their cloud website where you can get information as well as access to trials of these services.

cloud.netapp.com

For some background reading on data fabric, please feel free to check one of my previous posts;

Data Fabric – What is it good for?

And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me @techstringy or on Linkedin.

For other posts with details on the announcements check out

Taylor Riggan’s View on Cloud Sync

Mike Andrews NetApp Hybrid Cloud Launch

And if you’d like a bit of audio to listen to, I also interviewed Mike Andrews for a TechStringy Interview discussing the announcements and their strategic and technical impact, feel free to have a listen here;

NetApp Hybrid Cloud Announcements with Mike Andrews

NetApp Hybrid Cloud Announcements with Mike Andrews

November 1st saw NetApp make a whole slew of announcements linked to their already impressive Hybrid cloud strategy. Announcements not only included the things you’d expect from a data company, technology enhancements to existing solutions, some updated versions and capabilities, but also very interestingly a couple of services that did not require any of your more “traditional” NetApp technologies.

These are true services, designed purely to enable an organisations use of public cloud, from allowing seamless integration of cloud compute into an existing infrastructure, to protecting data sat in Office365.

To help review those announcements I’m joined by NetApp’s Mike Andrews to discuss both their technologic and strategic impacts, as well as delve a little more deeply into a couple of them. We also look at NetApp’s overall view of how organisations will deliver data strategy in the future.

If you need any more information or would like to ask Mike any further questions, you can find him via his blog or twitter.

Of course, you can also leave a comment here or contact me in any of the usual ways, and I’d be happy to chat more about NetApp’s hybrid cloud strategy.

Mike Andrews is @trekintech on twitter and his blog is trekintech.com

If you’d like to know more from NetApp check out the press release, or the NetApp cloud site

If you would like to contact me about NetApp Hybrid Cloud, then please feel free to reach me via @techstringy or find me on LinkedIn – or please fill in the form below.