At Mega Launch this year EMC announce a product called ProtectPoint which stands ready to change the way we think about backups in the datacenter. With modern data protection solutions we struggle to maintain a delicate balance between backup performance, data protection, and recoverability. This balance has left us with host intrusive and backend intensive data protection processes on complex and costly backup infrastructure. Many companies have looked to snapshots technologies to help improve the speed at which they meet stringent protection requirements, but snapshots are not backups unless the data is copied to a secondary media. A snapshot depends on the original data existing and being functional. That means if the primary storage were to become unavailable so does the snapshot. That is a huge gap in recoverability.
EMC ProtectPoint will help you bridge the gap between snapshot technologies and backup storage media by combining the performance of snapshots with the functionality of backups. ProtectPoint accomplished this by integrating primary storage intelligence with protection storage effectiveness. What that means is the primary storage, in this case the new VMAX3, is able to send data directly to the DataDomain. What is ever better is the array’s change block tracking features ensures only changed blocks of data are sent to DataDomain, making backups much faster.
One of the nice benefits of data not passing through the application server is that backups now become much less impactful to the host. We spend much less compute cycles than a traditional backup, all while increasing backup speed and lowering our RPO. DataDomain can replicate this backup data to a target system for disaster recoverability, but you’ll need a VMAX3 array at the target. Currently ProtectPoint only supports one application out of the box – Oracle RMAN. However, ProtectPoint is really just a piece of code that an application owner put into a script, so it should be possible to support any database via a custom script.
How does it work? Federated Tiered Storage or FTS. FTS is an existing feature of the VMAX family, which allows for seamless integration between the VMAX and an external storage array – in this case the DataDomain. Storage on the DataDomain, vDisks, will be presented to the VMAX across the fiber channel storage area network and encapsulated. This encapsulation allows the VMAX to preserve and access existing data on the DataDomain vDisks using the newly created VMAX volumes called eDisks.
A typical Oracle backup will look something like this.
- A backup script / RMAN job is started to kick off a backup from the database server.
- The Oracle database is placed into hot backup mode to prevent against the possibility of fractured blocks inside the database.
- A TimeFinderVX snapshot of the Oracle DATA storage is kicked off by ProtectPoint on the VMAX.
- At this point the Oracle database is taken out of hot backup mode.
- Next, a TimeFinderVX snapshot of the REDO storage is taken.
- Data from the newly created snapshots are written to the DataDomain via FTS eDisks.
- DataDomain uses the changed blocked to create a full backup in a native format.
It’s that simple. Restores are equally as simple and can be either full recovery or granular.
What do you need to make use of ProtectPoint? First you’ll need one of the new VMAX3 arrays with TimeFinderVX and ProtectPoint licensing. Also required is a supported DataDomain model. The DD990, DD4500, and the DD7200 are supported, however it is likely the DD890 with an RPQ will be usable. Solutions enabler and ProtectPoint will need to be installed on the database server. Oracle versions 11g and 12c on Unix/Linux are supported at GA.
I think ProtectPoint is a serious game changer in the data protection world. The non-intrusive nature of this technology allow of consistent application performance while enabling ever more stringent SLAs. Since the application tools manage backups thins are kept very simple and less costly. An initial release is scheduled for Q4 of this year. My hope, which I’ve seen EMC hint at, is that this technology will be added to other storage arrays and applications.