Public Cloud: the next big thing in IT Transformation. But how to get there?

Public Cloud: the next big thing in IT Transformation.  But how to get there?

Technology is all around. Invisible compute is helping us in our daily lives to improve accessibility to any kind of service: reading the news, setting the temperature in your home, planning a trip, watching series, charging your car and even read about what is going on at your kids’ school. Everything is accessible online, can be consumed in a pay per use model and is really easily accessible: an email address and online payment method is enough.


What impact does this trend have on a Cloud Service Provider (CSP)? How can one cope with these developments? And how can a CSP keep up with the competition? My answer: knowledge, innovation and the guts to challenge te status quo. CSP’s serving Independent Software Vendoers (ISV’s) are serving customers in a world where a lot of evolution is going on: applications need to be transformed from (in the worst case) monolithic architecture to a scalable, segmented stack, where development can really speed up the process of releasing new features.

In this global IT transformation, a CSP has a crucial role to play as an expert cloud partner for its customers. The transformation then can be achieved via a number of ways, transformation routes.

Transformation Routes


Transformation routes are based on the way a workload can be transformed to (public) Cloud, based on the theory of the (5) R’s:

  • Relocate: move on premises workload out of the privately owned datacenters and move it to the (Public) Cloud. A relatively simple exercise, where at least datacenter IT can be transformed from an Capex to an Opex model.
  • Rehost: a way of moving a locally hosted workload (server, virtual server or appliance) to a (Public) Cloud offering.
  • Replatform: this is where it gets more complex. A translation is needed for the workloads hosting an application: from server to service. Think of a translation of hosted loadbalancer to aan ALB service in Amazon Web Services. Think of a local database server (Oracle, SQL) to a Aurora Database Services. This complexity is challenging, but also the most satisfying. Adapting new technology and making the application cloud-native is the deliverable in this case.
  • Refactor: using cloud-native services most of the time requires a refactoring of the application. This requires interaction with the application owner, or even the developer. In combination with Replatforming the most improvement can be gained from this.
  • Repurchase: acquiring a new as a Service online application, where the legacy application is being retired; not a route where a CSP can have an active role in.

Transformation Concepts

A good CSP can help in all of the above digital transformation routes. The best route needs to fit in the customers company strategy, and if it comes to transforming the expense model of the local datacenter in a pay per use model, the CSP should be offering more options in a private cloud or public cloud solution.

If you would like to know how your Cloud Strategy can be translated to a solid plan, based on a fitting transformation route? Do not hesitate to contact me!

Cohesity vs. Veeam compared: storage usage

Cohesity vs. Veeam compared: storage usage

In this post  I am focussing on storage usage when comparing Veeam and Cohesity.  I have worked with Veeam for many years now and I am really interested in how the new technology from Cohesity performs in terms of storage usage.

Veeam setup

So, first of all let’s look at the specification of the setup. I am using Veeam 9.5 update 2 on a Windows Server 2012 environment within VMware vSphere 6.0.

Veeam version 9.5 update2
Veeam version 9.5 u2

The environment has two proxies, both capable of 8 concurrent tasks. The proxies are Windows Server 2012 VMs in the same VMware 6.0 cluster. The  Veeam repository is another Windows Server 2012 VM located in another datacenter.  This server is also a virtual machine in a vSphere 6.0 cluster using iSCSI storage from Dell (Equallogic).

Cohesity repository

To get the comparison started, we need to add the Cohesity storage as a repository to Veeam.  The current version of the Cohesity software I use for this test is version 4.0.1, with a build of 31th of July 2017.

Cohesity Cluster Version 4.0.1
Cohesity Cluster Version 4.0.1

First I have created a View (which is the equivalent of a fileshare) in Cohesity on a test View Box (an administrative configuration of part of the Cohesity cluster storage). The View Box is using inline deduplication and compression. The View Box does not use encryption.

View Box setting
View box setting

The View I created within the View Box is inheriting all deduplication and compression settings.

View setting
View setting

Next I have added a View from Cohesity to Veeam as a repository, mounting is as a CIFS share. On this share no limits on concurrent tasks and read/write actions are applied.

Repository configuration on Cohesity
Repository configuration with Cohesity storage

Furthermore I am using the setting for Use per-VM backup files as it is the preferred setting for Cohesity . Also vPower NFS service is enabled on this repository.

Having all pieces of infrastructure in place, we can start playing with it.

Job settings

In the test on storage usage I am using an existing Veeam Job. I have cloned this job and changed the repository from the Veeam Repository to the Cohesity one.

The workload I am backing up with the job consists of 10 VMs:

  • 4 of them are Windows Server
  • 6 of them are Linux VMs
  • Disk size vary from 20GB to 445GB
  • Total disk size of the workload: 1.10 TB
  • All disks of the VMs are thick provisioned in vSphere.

The job runs on a daily basis and keeps 4 restore points.

Job configuration with 4 restore points
Job configuration

I configured the job with a forward incremental scheme.

Job configuration: incremental
incremental backups are used

On the storage side I enabled all settings for compression and deduplication . These settings should result in the most efficient  storage usage.

Compression and deduplication enabled
Compression and deduplication enabled

Cohesity configuration

Now let’s configure the Cohesity version of the same backup job. First of all this cloned job is backing up to the Cohesity repository.  Secondly I change the settings on storage compression and deduplication in Veeam. This part is performed by Cohesity storage.

Cohesity configuration: no compression and deduplication
Cohesity configuration: no compression and deduplication

With the configuration done, it is time to grab a coffee and let the jobs run for some days.

Storage usage compared

After a week of succesful runs, I checked the usage of both runs. First I looked at the Veeam repository. I checked the repository and the total usage of the job is 367GB

Storage usage with Veeam: 367GB
Storage usage with Veeam: 367GB

To be sure everything runned good, I looked at the content of the folder. As expected I see the files for the four restorepoints.

Contents of the backup folder
Contents of the backup folder

Let’s look a the Cohesity storage usage.

The share shows a usage of 384GB. This is a little more than Veeam is using.

View storage usage: 384.14GB
View storage usage: 384.14GB

Looking at the share we see that the data on the share according to Windows is using 851GB. The efficiency of the compression and deduplication is clear: a factor of 2.2 is applied to the files.

Storage usage on the share
Storage usage on the share

Conclusions

In this specific case, we can point out the winner: Veeam has been able to save an additional 17GB on the same job. But we do have to take some things into account.

The jobs did not run at the same time. There was a three hour interval between the jobs, this could influence the data to be backed-up.

With the Use per-VM backup setting the backup files generated vary; instead of 5 files with the Veeam Repository, we see 51 files within the Cohesity View. This might influence the usage needed on disk taking filesystem properties into account.

So what about the two numbers. Given the fact that the production workload is 1.1 TB in size and 4 restore points are available (time span of 4 x 24 hours) the compression factors are both great. Veeam needs 32.5% of the production storage, hence resulting in a compression factor of 3.06.

Cohesity on the other hand needs 34.1 % of the production storage, hence resulting in a compression factor of 2.93.

Both numbers are great if you ask me and if you want a better comparison between the products, more things have to be taken into account. What about performance in backup and restore, scalability and ease of use? Please have a look on my next blog item, where I will discuss the performance of the same back-up job when running in Veeam and Cohesity.

 

Update 17 October 2017

With the launch of Cohesity 4.1.2 it is now possible to change a View Box Redundancy Factor. Default the Resiliency Factor was set to 2, meaning that data was stored to two different nodes in the cluster (compared to a RAID1 configuration). Now this View Box redundancy can set to Erasure coding with a setting of 2 data stripes to 1 coded stripe (This 2:1 in the default setting in a 4 node cluster).

This setting will change the redundancy to a RAID6 like configuration.

When enabling this setting to our Test Viewbox, we see the storage usage on the Cohesity Share drops from 384GB to 321,49 GB. In this case Cohesity has the best cards in terms of storage usage.

 

 

Cohesity – Installation and basic configuration

After my previous post where  I introduced the Cohesity backup and secondary storage product, I want to share some experience in configuration and basic configuration using the Cohesity software.

Installation – from box to Cohesity GUI in 1,5 hour

First something on the installation, but not to much. Why? It only took me 1,5 hours including transportation to the datacenter (15 min drive), so there is not really much to it.

Cohesity Boxed

The steps you need to do are fairly easy. For the four node C2500 cluster we installed (one chassis) you need to install it in 2U rackspace, connect the dual power supplies, connect the eight 10Gbps network connectors (two per blade to preferable two different switches) and four 1 Gbps (IPMI) interfaces. All 10Gbps interfaces are connected to one vlan. IPMI interfaces are connected to a different network (vlan).
Cohesity unboxed

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From a DHCP enabled network and a client with bonjour service the installation is then done via a webinterface. The wizard runs you to some steps, where you need the following information:

  1. Set the IP space for the each node (we use  a /24 from a 10.0.0.0/8 IP space)
  2. Set the virtual IP space for the cluster (we use another /24 from a 10.0.0.0/8 IP space)
  3. Set the IPMI IP’s for KVM access.
  4. Set the general network settings: hostnames, cluster name, ntp and smtp
  5. Set the username and password settings for cluster access and KVM.

As said,  everything runs via a web based wizard. The installation guide and worksheet is just over 2 pages, light and easy 🙂

Basic configuration on storage

To get your environment up and running you need to some configuration. The usable space in the cluster needs to be designated to one ore more partitions.

In my case I use one partition, since this partition can be divided later into customer specific allocation where you can choose to set compression, encryption and inline deduplication as an addtional setting.

After setiing up the partition, you need to set up a view box. The view box is Cohesity’s approach to create scalable storage slices from the partition. The view box is an administrative setting and allows you yo set specific characteristics:

  • Deduplication: inline or after data has been written to the view box
  • Compression: inline or after data has been written to the view box
  • Encryption
  • Cloud Tier: Setting up the cloud tier allows you offloading of cold (not often accessed data) to external targets like a NAS, public cloud storage from Azure, Google and AWS).

With the setup of this view box you are set to let backups land on the view box. You are also able to create file shares (views). This is where the actual fun begins. I will post more on this subject soon!

Cool backup and more! – Cohesity

Cool backup and more! – Cohesity

In October 2016 I met Cohesity as a product on VMworld Europe. With the already great experience I had with the Veeam Availablity Suite, I learned some real improvements in back-up and recovery approach this company has been implementing. Especially for medium and large enterprises and service providers, this product brings you cool backup functionality and more!

First of all, the design of the product: you get a hardware box, based on a chassis that can host four blades. Each blade brings computing power and storage to the solution. First nice thing: this can scale endlessly! So if you need addition storage, after your first minimal three node set-up, you can increase the capacity of the Cohesity cluster by adding seperate blades. Currently a blade will add 12 TB of net capacity.

So having a scalable cluster in terms of hardware, the managements brings another cool feature: single point of management and no architectural worries: each blade increases both storage as computing power. From an operator perspective this makes your work a lot easier.

Last of all I want to mention the features that the software brings you:

  • Back-up & Recovery of VMs, SQL databases, NetApp NAS shares
  • Compression, Encryption and global deduplication (this last one is actually great on the storage usage part)
  • Public cloud tiering to AWS, Google, Azure
  • Replication to public clouds, NAS, other Cohesity clusters
  • Google like experience in back-up and restore, see my next posts
  • NAS functionality to do test & dev:  testing upgrades of software, auditing backup functionality
  • Indexing of files for both restore functionality as extensive reporting

This makes this product really more than just backup. In the coming time I will be posting more to show you some of these more than just backup features, that made me excited about the Cohestiy secondary storage product.

Cool backup and more by Cohesity

 

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