As I review the marketing pitches of many software-defined storage products today, I am concerned by the lack of attention in any of the software stack descriptions to any capabilities whatsoever for managing the underlying hardware infrastructure. This strikes me as a huge oversight.
The truth is that delivering storage services via software — orchestrating and administering the delivery of capacity, data encryption, data protection and other services to the data that are hosted on a software-defined storage volume – is only half of the challenge of storage administration. The other part is maintaining the health and integrity of the gear and the interconnect cabling that provide the all-important physical underlayment of an increasingly virtualized world.
Personally, I am getting rather tired of the dismissive tone adopted by virtualization and cloud vendors when you raise the issue of disaster recovery. We previously discussed the limited scope of virtual systems clustering and failover: active-passive and active-active server clusters with data mirroring is generally inadequate for recovery from interruption events that have a footprint larger than a given equipment rack or subnetwork. Extending mirroring and cluster failover over distances greater than 80 kilometers is a dicey strategy, especially given the impact of latency and jitter on data transport over WAN links, which can create data deltas that can prevent successful application or database recovery altogether.
At the end of March, an event little known outside of a small community of vendors, will happen: World Backup Day. Expect a flurry of blogs and tweets and posts and all of the other stuff that goes along with such marketing events. Then, expect the discussion to go silent for another year…unless a newsworthy data disaster occurs.
Truth be told, backup has never been front of mind for IT planners. Most planners don’t even consider how they will back up the data they will be storing when then go out to purchase storage rigs. And most have no clue regarding which data needs to be protected. Backup is an afterthought.