IBM Spectrum Protect – Crash Diet for Your Data Protection Budget

My career in storage started back in the late 1980’s when the IT world revolved around the computer system and everything else was considered a sub-system (I guess in some ways that made me a sub-administrator). The discipline of managing storage assets was just taking hold and the first order of business was to ensure all the corporate data was protected. Data that fed mainframe applications topped the list for most organizations but data associated with mission critical client-server workloads was growing rapidly. It was into this world that the great-great-grandfather of IBM Spectrum Protect was born.

Trivia question
Trivia question – leave a comment to play: Who can name the complete family lineage of IBM Spectrum Protect? Bonus points for expanding all the acronyms.

 

The world of IT has evolved a lot since then. Data is no longer a sub-thought, it is central – the new currency of business. The race to simply get all the important data protected is largely over. Spectrum Protect is now a highly evolved one-stop family that IT managers use to do that job. It is tightly integrated with workloads like databases, email systems and ERP applications; with the hypervisors they run in; with the file systems and storage devices they store their data on; and with the data capture tools that surround them such as snapshot and replication. It also includes advanced data reduction techniques like deduplication and compression.  Check out the live demo!

IBM Spectrum Protect dashboardThe question of simply ensuring your important data can be protected has been answered. The question now for most of the clients I talk to is just how efficiently the job of data protection can be done. They want to minimize the budget for data copies so they can shift investment to new business growth initiatives.

A few years ago IBM acquired Butterfly Software, a small company in the United Kingdom who had developed some BIG thoughts around communicating the economic benefits brought by certain approaches to storage. Butterfly had developed what they called an Analysis Engine Report (AER) that followed a straight forward thought process.

  1. Using a very light weight collector, gather real data about the existing storage infrastructure at a potential customer.
  2. Using that data, explain in good detail what the as-is effectiveness of the environment is and what costs will look like in five years time if the customer continues on the current approach.
  3. Show what a transformed storage infrastructure would look like compared to the as-is approach, and more importantly what future costs could look like compared to continuing as-is.

Using the Butterfly technology, IBM has partnered with clients to analyze thousands of different infrastructures scattered across every industry in most parts of the world and comprising exabytes of data. In all that analysis, our clients have discovered some remarkable things about software-defining storage and IBM’s ability to help transform the economic future of storage. One area of specialty for Butterfly is backup environments.

When compared to as-is competitive backup environments, transforming to an IBM Financial Belt Tightening 8595689Spectrum Protect approach can be, on average, 38% more efficient.  Of course your results may vary. For example, when we look at  just the mass of results from as-is Symantec NetBackup or CommVault Simpana or EMC NetWorker environments, each shows that transforming to a Spectrum Protect approach produces different, and in these three cases at least, somewhat stronger economic savings. We’ve got data by industry and for many other competitive backup approaches but you get the picture. Upgrading a backup environment to IBM Spectrum Protect is like a crash diet for your data protection budget. (Tweet this)

The best way to see for yourself is to contact IBM or an IBM Business Partner and ask for a Butterfly Backup AER study.

Join the conversation with #IBMStorage and #softwaredefined

Backup redesign: A top priority for IT managers (Part 3)

This is the conclusion of a three-part conversation with Dr. Xin Wang, product manager for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). In part 1, Xin discussed what she has learned about the challenges IT managers are facing leading to the backup redesign movement. In part 2, she began discussing her near term plans for TSM. Let’s conclude the conversation:

The Line: It seems like there is lots to watch for in the VMware space. The final observation you made was about administrators. Say a little bit there.

Xin: The administration job is changing. Nobody has time to do anything they don’t need to be doing. We introduced a completely new approach to backup administration earlier this year with the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center. Soon we plan to make the administrator’s job even easier.

  • Deployment of a new backup server instance can be a task that requires expertise and customization. So we’re planning to remove the guesswork with blueprints for different sized configurations.
  • Auto deployment and configuration. This includes daily care and feeding of the backup repository, provisioning the protection of a new workload (client), monitoring status and activities, redriving failures and so on. We’re expanding the Operations Center.

The Line: Xin, it sounds like the near future holds some exciting possibilities for IT managers as they redesign their backup environments. Is there anything else you would like to mention that I missed?

Xin: Actually, yes. There’s one more really important thing. Whether an IT manager is sticking with traditional backup methods or redesigning with snapshots, VMware integration or one of the best practice blueprints, often times there is still a need to move some of those copies somewhere else for safe keeping. Think vaulting, offsite storage or disaster recovery. This can take time, use up network resources and result in a really large repository.

Since the days when TSM pioneered the idea of incremental forever backup, we’ve been leading the industry in data reduction to minimize strain on the environment. It’s one of the things that drive the economic savings we show in Butterfly studies. Soon we are planning some enhancements to our native client-side and server-side deduplication that will improve ingest capacity on the order of 10x. That’s 1,000 percent more deduplicated data each day! We plan to fold this capability into our new blueprints so IT managers can get the benefit right out of the box.

The Line: Nice! Xin, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with my readers.

If you have questions for Xin, please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Backup redesign: A top priority for IT managers (Part 1)

Person Marking in a Checkbox 5722106Backup redesign continues to be toward the top of most analysts’ lists for 2013 IT priorities. I’ve talked a lot about some of the catalysts behind this trend like data growth, big data, VMware and software defined storage. With IT managers redesigning, the incumbent enterprise backup vendors have a lot of motivation to offer innovative solutions that are a bit ahead of the times. The leaders have all placed strategic bets on what the winning formula will be. I discussed these bets in my post “Forrester’s take on enterprise backup and recovery.”

For its part, IBM is being quick about helping IT managers redesign. The help starts with a clear understanding of the economic benefit a redesign can bring. After all, in today’s environment few IT managers make technology moves simply for the sake of technology. Storage is about economics. I discuss this more fully in my post “Does trying to find a better economic approach to storage give you ‘Butterflies’?” But there is still efficient technology that enables these economic savings, and the person in IBM who is ultimately responsible for the technology in IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) is the product manager, Dr. Xin Wang.

Businesswoman touch the virtual cloud buttonRecently I spoke with Xin about the important shifts IT managers are facing and how she is helping IT managers reimagine backup.

The Line: Xin, I’m going to start with the “Dr.” part of your title. Should folks call you the Backup Doctor?

Xin: (laughing) Well, I don’t know about that. I’m actually a doctor of Applied Physics. One thing that drove me to earn a PhD and has moved me ever since is that I love to learn. I started my career in IBM hard disk drive research, spent some time as a storage software developer and development manager, and have now been working with backup clients as a product manager for several years.

The Line: Wow, I could probably do an entire post just on your career. But let’s stay focused. What have you learned about the challenges IT managers are facing and this whole backup redesign movement?

Labyrinth - business conceptXin:  It’s interesting. The challenges aren’t secret but they carry big implications for backup. Data is growing like crazy; that’s no secret. But it is now so big that the old method of loading an agent on a server to collect and copy backup data over a network to a tape isn’t keeping up. So IT managers are redesigning.

And what about servers? Servers aren’t servers anymore. Thanks to VMware, they are virtual machines that come, go and move around in a hurry. Traditional backup is too rigid. So IT managers are redesigning.

Administrators are changing too. The generation of backup admins who grew up tuning the environment is giving way to a new generation of backup, VMware and cloud admins who need much more intuitive and automated management tools. And so IT managers are redesigning. (Editorial comment: I discussed the change in administration in my post “Do IT managers really ‘manage’ storage anymore?)

The Line: Okay, I think I’m seeing your trend. IT managers are redesigning. And it seems like you’ve got a clear idea of why. Can we take your list one at a time? I think my readers would be interested in what you are doing with TSM in each of these areas.

Xin: Sure, that makes sense.

Check back for part 2 of the interview in which Xin shares her near term plans for TSM. If you have questions for Xin, please join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Does trying to find a better economic approach to storage give you “Butterflies”? (Part 2)

Bright Blue and Black Butterfly 6061480This is the conclusion of a two part conversation with Liam Devine, the global post-sales face of Butterfly. In Part 1, we talked about Butterfly’s unique approach to storage infrastructure analytics and how Butterfly came to be an IBM company.

The Line: It’s been a couple of years since 2011, and you have had the opportunity to both analyze a lot of data and have a number of conversations with financial decision makers. What have you found to be the most compelling talking points?

Liam: The most compelling stuff comes from the data. We’ve analyzed hundreds of different infrastructures in most every conceivable configuration and have discovered some extraordinary things about software defining storage and IBM’s approach to backup.

  • When compared to an as-is physical storage environment, transforming to a software-defined storage environment with something like IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, the economic outlook can be, on average, 63% more efficient. That’s the average, your results may vary. (Editorial comment: in one of my posts from IBM Edge 2013 I talked about LPL Financial who followed the recommendations of a Butterfly Storage AER and saved an astounding 47% in total infrastructure. Listen to Chris Peek, Senior Vice President of IT at LPL Financial. )
  • When compared to as-is competitive backup environments, transforming to an IBM Tivoli Storage Manager approach can be, on average, 38% more efficient. Again, your results may vary. [Modified: For example, when we segment just the mass of Backup AER results from as-is Symantec NetBackup or CommVault Simpana or EMC NetWorker environments, each shows that transformation to a TSM approach produces different, and in these cases at least, somewhat stronger economic savings.] We’ve got data by industry and for many other competitive backup approaches but you get the picture. Choosing a TSM approach can save money.

Business Graph 13296111The Line:  For my readers, the Butterfly team had discovered most of these trends before IBM acquired them. As I noted above, that had a lot to do with IBMs interest in the company. [Modified: Now that IBM owns Butterfly, they have been quick to add legal disclaimers around anything that might be construed as a competitive claim*.]

Now Liam, switching back to you. Butterfly has been part of IBM for about 11 months. How has the transition been?

Liam: Very successful and pretty much as I had expected. We had a few minor technical hic-cups in switching infrastructure (freeware and open source components to a more IBM standard architecture), as you would expect, but those hic-ups are behind us now. The global IBM sales force and Business Partner community has created a lot more demand for our analytics so we are busy scaling out our delivery capability.  The good news is that we’re meeting our business goals.

The Line: Can you give us an idea of what you and the team are working on next?

Liam: Right, well we’re working on a couple of important things. First is an automated “self-service” AER generation model that will enable us to scale out further still and present the AER’s as a service to IBM and its Business Partners. And second, as you can imagine, the data driven AER reports are causing a lot of IT managers to rethink their infrastructure and begin transitioning to a new software defined approach. We are continuing to refine our migration automation to assist clients with the transition, especially between backup approaches.

The Line: Before ending, I have to ask about your Twitter handle @keydellkop. What’s the story?

Liam: Hmmm, bit of strange explanation here I am afraid to say, it’s more a play on words. I see much of life being a set of confused circumstances that can be placed into an ultimate order. This reminds me of the Keystone Kops. On that theme, I reside in an area called Keydell in the south of England and being a manic Liverpool supporter, you get The Kop (the famous Liverpool stand at the Anfield stadium) – Hence @KeydellKop. All tweets are my own covering such subjects as Information Protection, Liverpool Football Club, life in general with a smidge of humor thrown in where appropriate.

The Line: Liam, thank you for spending a few minutes with me and sharing your story with my readers.

If you have questions for Liam, please join the conversation below.

* Backup Analysis Engine Reports from >1.5Exabytes data analyzed by Butterfly Software.  Savings are the average of individual customer Analysis Engine Reports from Butterfly Software, May 2013, n+450.  The savings include cumulative 36-month hardware, hardware maintenance, and electrical power savings.  Excludes one-time TSM migration cost.  All client examples cited or described are presented as illustrations of the manner in which some clients have used IBM products and the results they have achieved.  Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual client configurations and conditions.  Contact IBM to see what we can do for you.

Does trying to find a better economic approach to storage give you “Butterflies”? (Part 1)

Financial Belt Tightening 8595689Recently there has been a lot of talk coming out of IBM about the economics of storage. In fact, all of my top 5 observations from IBM Edge 2013 had something to do with economics. Sure, technology advancements are still important, but increasingly what CIO’s are chasing is a clear understanding of the economic benefits a new technology approach can bring.

Monarch butterflyLate last year IBM acquired Butterfly Software, a small company in the United Kingdom who had developed some BIG thoughts around communicating the economic benefits brought by certain approaches to storage. Butterfly has developed what they call an Analysis Engine Report (AER) that follows a straight forward thought process.

  1. Using a very light weight collector, gather real data about the existing storage infrastructure at a potential customer.
  2. Using that data, explain in good detail what the as-is effectiveness of the environment is and what costs will look like in five years time if the customer continues on the current approach.
  3. Show what a transformed storage infrastructure would look like compared to the as-is approach, and more importantly what future costs could look like compared to continuing as-is.

Butterfly has two flavors of AER’s, one for primary storage infrastructure and one for copy data (or backup) infrastructure. They have analyzed some 850 different infrastructures scattered across every industry in most parts of the world and comprising over 2 exabytes of data. In all that analysis, they have discovered some remarkable things about IBM’s ability to transform the economic future of storage for its clients. (Editorial comment: the results probably have something to do with why IBM acquired the company).

Butterfly AER

I was able to catch up with the global post-sales face of Butterfly, Liam Devine, to talk about the company and where he sees the storage economics conversation going (see if you can hear his distinctly British accent come through).

The Line: Liam, let’s start with a little background for my readers. You’ve been a systems and storage manager, consulted for some pretty impressive companies in finance and healthcare and even spent a little time at vendors like NEC and EMC.

Liam: That’s right. I’ve had the pleasure of holding numerous IT roles in a variety of interesting companies for some 14 years previous to moving over to The Dark Side or vendor land, where I have been this past 12 years. The majority of that time spent at EMC in two stints, first supporting financial customers and second supporting Electronic Data Systems (EDS – now HP Enterprise Services).

The Line: Okay, so rewind us back to 2011. What was the motivation for joining Butterfly Software?

Liam: Everything is becoming software defined. Compute is ahead of storage, but storage is accelerating quickly. The reasons are rooted in economics. I became aware of this Butterfly company who were creating unique analytics to help communicate the economic value of shifting from traditional storage infrastructure approaches to more software oriented approaches. Once I had spoken to the founders and understood their strategic vision encompassing both primary storage infrastructure and data, there was no where else I wanted to be.

Check back soon for Part 2 of the interview as Liam shares some of the extraordinary savings that Butterfly analytics have uncovered.