Looking for savings in your federal data center? Tame your “data protection sprawl”

Let’s face it. Data protection isn’t sexy. It doesn’t contribute to better applications or cool, new features for the customer to enjoy. But it’s a necessity; it is insurance to cover the risk of data loss or failure. So why is data protection as costly and complex as it is?

A chief reason is that most federal agencies have extraordinarily large and diverse data environments. Many agencies possess hundreds of terabytes of data deployed across numerous applications and storage. They have data in Oracle, MongoDB, and SQL Server databases, for example. They may run on Linux or Windows or both. They may be relying on virtual servers as well as physical servers. They may have their storage and workloads running on-prem as well as in one or multiple clouds.

The problem is that owners of those applications typically deploy data protection solutions that are tailored to their application’s particular circumstances. The result is data protection sprawl. When it comes to backing up data — and, when necessary, recovering data in the event of a failure or data loss — there are multiple vendors and hardware to manage, multiple backup and recovery methodologies to master, and no clear all-encompassing view of data protection across the enterprise.

This makes for a complex, costly, and challenging data protection environment that is time-consuming to manage and difficult, if not impossible, to scale. This complexity also contributes to more time-consuming data recovery when things go badly.

Federal agencies need a backup and recovery solution that puts an end to data protection sprawl so they can consolidate their tools, simplify their environments, streamline compliance processes, improve the overall state and transparency of their backup and recovery capabilities, scale effortlessly, deliver efficiencies, and reduce costs.

We at Wildflower International think one of the best solutions out there is Dell EMC’s Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA), which can do all of this by delivering unrivaled data protection to all data, wherever it resides, in a highly efficient, turnkey solution that is easy to deploy and run. IDPA combines protection storage, protection software, search, and analytics to reduce the complexity of managing multiple data silos, point solutions, and vendor relationships. You can review the IDPA data sheet to learn more about its many great features, but I would like to discuss here a few capabilities that make this appliance an especially good fit for federal data environments in particular:

Exceptional efficiency

When it comes to back-up and recovery, efficiency is essential. The goal of any data protection solution is to move, store, and replicate the least amount of data possible while still delivering needed backup and recovery capability. Greater efficiency reduces cost, storage needs, bandwidth needs, and the time needed to back up and recover data. Data deduplication is a key driver of efficiency because it removes redundant data before a data backup. The Dell EMC IDPA comes with the highest efficiency inline deduplication available — an average data deduplication rate of 55:1 — for data on premise and in the cloud, thus reducing storage footprint and overall cost. This means that 55 times more data is protected than the physical space required to store it. This efficiency also allows for a reduction of needed bandwidth of up to 98 percent.

IDPA can do this because it uses a different algorithm than other solutions to decide what data to back up. Most deduplication solutions distinguish unique data from data already in the system and then back it up as segments of a fixed size. Because those data segments are fixed in size, they often contain both unique data as well as duplicative data. IDPA is different in that it backs up unique data in segments of variable size, so only truly unique data is backed up.

Vendor agnostic (and deep integration with VMware environments)

Whatever applications, databases, virtualization environments, or clouds that an agency’s data operates in, chances are the Dell EMC IDPA can integrate with it and back it up with ease. IDPA offers comprehensive coverage for the largest application ecosystem, and it works on premises and in the cloud.

That said, for the many federal agencies out there that run VMware environments, IDPA data protection offers seamless integration with VMware’s vRealize automation and vSphere hypervisor. That means administrators can use the same single pane of glass — the vSphere user interface — to manage their production data, their applications, and their data protection. When provisioning a virtual machine (VM), IDPA automatically assigns pre-chosen, transparent backup policies to that VM.

Fast back-ups and data recovery

A big factor affecting speeds of back up and recovery is — again — efficiency. Because of IDPA’s unrivaled in-line deduplication capability, it is dealing with less data, so backup and recovery are exceptionally fast. In a lab test, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) performed extensive performance testing to compare the abilities of the IDPA and a competitive server grid appliance technology solution to efficiently protect virtual environments at scale. The tests found that, for steady state backups of 1,000 virtual machines, the IDPA solution shrunk the backup window by 54 percent over the other solution.1

Because IDPA is deduplicating more data than other solutions, it has less data to restore when it comes to data recovery, so it’s quicker. But IDPA also has super-fast NVMe flash storage built in that offers “instant access” capability, in which it can spin up 30,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second) within minutes — roughly equivalent to 30 virtual machines — for the highest-priority workloads.

Works great with cloud use cases

IDPA works with government clouds, including AWS GovCloud and Microsoft Azure Government, and supports many cloud use cases. For instance, agencies can use IDPA to write backup data to the cloud and store it in a deduplicated format for long-term retention, effectively making the cloud an extension of the IDPA’s backup storage.

In another example, IDPA can employ AWS GovCloud as a disaster recovery target. To do this, IDPA can replicate virtual machines (VMs) that an agency wants to be backed up, then store those VMs in AWS S3 storage. When a failover event occurs, IDPA can automatically convert those VMs to the AWS Amazon Machine Images (AMI) format, assign compute and storage resources to them, and stand up those VMs in the cloud. To failover to AWS, it takes three clicks to restore a VM and two clicks to return operations to its primary location. 

Security

The Dell EMC IDPA meets the government’s stringent security standards. It uses 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption to encrypt data in flight, at rest, and during replication. IDPA is also compliant with Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2. Moreover, Dell EMC expects to achieve Common Criteria certification and Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) compliance for IDPA shortly.

These are just a few reasons why we at Wildflower believe the Dell EMC IDPA is such an ideal fit for most federal data environments. To learn more about IDPA — including how IDPA can dramatically streamline traditional “dump and sweep” backup operations that are in practice at many federal agencies — contact Wildflower International at https://www.wildflowerintl.com/

 

Carly Rhodeside is the chief communications officer for Wildflower International.

 

Footnotes

1 Vinny Choinski and Edwin Yuen, Efficiently Protect Virtual Environments with Integrated Data Protection Appliances from Dell EMC, ESG Lab Review, February 2018.

Carly Rhodeside