Archive for the ‘Data Storage’ Category

Effective Cloud disaster recovery

December 12, 2011

As the cloud gains steam and expands, disaster recovery has become more effective. Creative ideas involving replication have evolved as it pertains to recovery solutions for disasters.  Not always inexpensive, the best solutions provide almost instant recovery times.

Continuous data protection (CDP) using virtual machines for data replication in the cloud is probably the most reliable solution to date.

(For the purposes of this discussion, bandwidth is plentiful and security procedures have been established.)

There are two very good solutions for CDP disaster recovery on virtual machines:

1. Pure cloud  

This solution is straight forward. If you’re running your applications purely on the cloud, with nothing local, then the managed service provider (MSP) can be responsible for disaster recovery. If the primary cloud site fails, a secondary cloud site will take over with a “flick of the switch” of duplicate data and virtual machines running the applications. After recent outages at Amazon’s AWS, MSPs are ensuring they have more reliable disaster recovery solutions.

2. Replication to virtual machines from local systems

This solution works well for companies that want their data on the premises, as well as in the cloud. There are a few steps:

a.   Service provider installs an on-premise device that replicates all local data.

b.   On-premise system replicates with virtual machines in the cloud.

c.   In the event of an on-premise disaster, the “switch is flipped,” and the virtual machines in the cloud take over.

Cloud software capable of replication include CommVault Continuous Data Replicator, EMC Atmos and the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP). IBM, AppAssure, Iron Mountain, and Simply Continuous also provide these disaster recovery cloud services.

Remember, these solutions must be clearly identified in any service-level agreement (SLA) with the MSP. A key element will be the recovery time objectives (RTO). How long can the system be down before the business is impacted?  There are some key areas you want to make sure are covered, and that you fully understand, to make sure they meet your business needs and that no surprises come up should disaster strike.

1. Read the Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Read and understand the SLA being offered by your cloud service provider. Understand what constitutes a disaster, ask questions and walk through scenarios to be sure you fully understand what constitutes a disaster and the specifics around a DR event. Who declares a disaster, what processes and technologies are in place to minimize the impact to customers, and how long will it take to restore service. If a few hours of downtime seems like an eternity, and if your business cannot survive it, a cloud service may not be right for you.

2. Recovery Point Objective

The word disaster implies that bad things have happened, and when it comes to an IT service, that usually implies data loss. Make sure you understand the recovery point objective of the service so you know just how much data loss is possible in the event disaster strikes.

3. Recovery Time Objective

Communicate to all stakeholders the time that has been agreed to in your Service Level agreement for recovering from the disaster.  Make sure that all stakeholders have agreed to the recovery time before signing up with the cloud service.

Toshiba releases new hard drive that erases itself when removed from a PC

April 15, 2011

Toshiba has come up with a type of self-encrypting hard drive (SED) that can automatically wipe data if it is removed from a paired computer by an attacker.

Available in capacities up to 640GB, the new MKxx61GSYG drive upgrades the capabilities of an identically named drive announced last December, which launched the company’s family of drives complying with the Trusted Computing Group’s Opal SSC specification.

The new version adds new feature to the mix for OEMs, including the ability to cause either part or all of the drive to become crypto-erased if the drive detects that it is not operating inside a particular PC.

According to Toshiba, this is useful for point-of-sale terminals as well as some laptops to protect against drive data being accessed when it is at the end of its life or being re-provisioned.

The company is also pushing the case of this type of drive in niche applications such as multi-function printers that cache and retain images of faxes and printed documents. Undoubtedly, however, the technology could herald a move towards drives that are designed to wipe themselves out when removed from paired computers or devices.

It’s important to also note that data can also be set to erase from sections of the drive based on remote commands.

SAS and EMC push High Performance Analytics technology

April 14, 2011

On Tuesday, EMC added three new models to its Greenplum Data Computing Appliance (DCA) line of products, including a system optimized for high-capacity and another optimized for high performance. The company also rolled out version 4.1 of the Greenplum Database.

Separately on Tuesday, SAS Institute said its SAS High-Performance Analytics technology will be added to EMC’s DCA products.

By adding the SAS technology, Greenplum users will soon be able to perform complex analytical computations on their data without having to first move it to a SAS environment.

James Kobielus of Forrester Research said, “The SAS integration is very important for EMC Greenplum at a number of levels. Customers of data warehousing solutions are looking more and more to run advanced analytics without necessarily having to move their data to specialized platform such as SAS.”

The integration of the two environments will let Greenplum users take advantage of their massively parallel, high-performance data warehouse appliances to run SAS analytics significantly faster.

Greenplum customers can now select SAS more easily because they don’t have to move their data out from one environment to another. Greenplum customers are clearly getting some analytics capabilities they didn’t have previously.

If SAS did not partner with EMC they would have had hard time surviving if the only way they work is to take data out of DB2 or Teradata or Greenplum and put it into SAS.  Data volumes are getting increasingly massive and a lot of data is simply not going to be in SAS going forward.

This is a very good move for SAS and EMC.

How to make sense of messy data? Google refine is an excellent solution….

March 2, 2011

Do you want to make sense of messy data? Google refine may prove to be the right tool!

It allows for cleaning up messy data, transforming it from one format into another, extending it with web services, and linking it to databases like Freebase or MySQL to name a few. Another great feature of this tool is of course the “no cost feature.”