Backup, Recovery, Migrations in a virtual environment

A conversation with Vision Solutions' Tim Laplante started with a briefing on Double Take 7 and ended up with a discussion of platforms, approaches to disaster recovery and more.

Tim Laplante, Vision Solutions' Director of Product Strategy, stopped by to brief me on the features and functions of Double-Take 7. While the improvements to Vision Solutions' offerings were impressive, I found the discussion of different approaches to back up and recovery and how this very same technology can serve a number of purposes, including system migrations and supporting distributed branch operations, to be very useful.

Double-Take 7

The basic technology underlying Vision Solutions' Double-Take product family first became available in the very early 1990s. Since that time, Double-Take has built a reputation of helping companies with their data protection strategies. It has also been used to help companies perform system migrations (physical to physical, physical to virtual and physical to cloud). Here's how Vision Solutions describes Double-Take 7:

Double-Take 7.0 provides both agentless and agent-based virtual server protection, allowing organizations to protect data, applications and servers in order to maintain business continuity in the manner that best meets their needs. Double-Take 7.0 also provides anything-to-anything migration with near-zero downtime, which makes it easy for IT organizations with heterogeneous environments to move data, applications and workloads between physical, virtual and public or private cloud data centers without affecting users.

By expanding Double-Take to offer both agent-based and agentless protection as part of the same product, companies can reduce the amount of time required to manage their implementations while ensuring the overall HA/DR technology is always up-to-date. As a result, Double-Take 7.0 easily scales to protect hundreds of physical servers or virtual machines.

Other key features include:

  • Customizable unified status reporting for all assets protected by Double-Take 7.0 Near-zero downtime migrations independent of the physical, virtual, cloud or storage layers underneath IT workloads
  • Simple, intuitive graphic user interface (GUI)
  • World-class customer service

Double-Take 7.0 provides HA, DR and migration capabilities for VMware®, Microsoft® Windows® Server and Linux as well as the KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V and Xen hypervisor technologies.

Analysis — Different approaches to backup, recovery and data protection

Keeping data protected so that a company's operations can survive the loss of an application, system, storage device or network can be accomplished in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Storage server suppliers are proponents of using advanced features of their systems to make multiple copies of data when writing to the storage media they're managing. Companies such as EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM and NetApp offer technology that can not only write data to multiple storage devices, but these devices can be in different data centers. This approach, however, requires expensive storage servers and storage area network technology. Furthermore, the technology offered by each of these suppliers is proprietary and may not interoperate with storage solutions coming from other suppliers.
  • System software suppliers are proponents of using tools that are distributed with their operating systems. Microsoft, HP, IBM, Oracle and Linux suppliers, such as Red Hat, offer this approach. While it offers the benefit of not being tied to any specific storage solution, it is typically focused on a single operating system and doesn't offer a data center-wide solution.
  • Data protection suppliers, such as Vision Solutions, Symantec, Racemi and others, offer support for multiple systems, operating systems, networks and support for physical, virtual and cloud-based environments. Some of these suppliers require that agent software be installed on all of the systems. Others work with the operating systems or hypervisors to protect data. A few offer the capability to monitor network or storage area network traffic to capture data updates directly from the wire.

Vision Solutions has chosen to offer both agentless and agent-based approaches to data protection. The company would point out that as companies move some or all of their critical workloads into virtual or cloud-based environments, data protection becomes both more important and more complex. The company is offering Double-Take 7 products that work directly with Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's ESX hypervisors. It is also offering in-guest software that supports other virtual machine software environments including KVM and Xen.

What is challenging about data protection is that there are many suppliers, each offering different technology and using the same language to describe their benefits and other suppliers' weaknesses. Each of the approaches to data protection offer strengths and have weaknesses.

Companies need to understand what they're doing and their requirements for data protection and disaster recovery before making a selection. Since different workloads have different requirements for data protection, it may be best to deploy a number of these approaches in conjunction with one another. Vision Solutions' Double-Take family of products offers an easy-to-use approach to protecting complex environments and are worthy of consideration.


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