Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger


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Where the Cloud Touches Down: Simplifying Data Center Infrastructure Management

Thursday, July 25, 2013
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In most data centers, DCIM rests on a shaky foundation of manual record keeping and scattered documentation. OpManager replaces data center documentation with a single repository for data, QRCodes for asset tracking, accurate 3D mapping of asset locations, and a configuration management database (CMDB). In this webcast, sponsored by ManageEngine, you will see how a real-world datacenter mapping stored in racktables gets imported into OpManager, which then provides a 3D visualization of where assets actually are. You'll also see how the QR Code generator helps you make the link between real assets and the monitoring world, and how the layered CMDB provides a single point of view for all your configuration data.

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New Cloud Backup Pricing Targets Recovery

Today is a big day for news in the backup world. Cloud backup leader Asigra announced a revolutionary new pricing model that bases costs not only on the data that's backed up, but also on restores. Meanwhile, EMC announced enhancements to its backup portfolio, including a new set of midrange Data Domain appliances.

Unlike most of the Silicon Valley-based, venture-funded storage companies, Asigra is a family-owned Canadian company. It's been doing what we now call cloud backup for 25 years. In that time, the company has pioneered technologies such as source deduplication while quietly powering many of the best online backup providers in the business. Asigra sells mostly to solution providers, so it doesn't have the profile of EMC or Symantec, but its software sure gets the job done.

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Asigra's biggest news, announced at its customer and partner conference, is a new pricing model. Instead of charging you based on the amount of data you store at the provider, or by the amount of storage you protect, the company will base part of the data protection cost on how much data you restore.

[Too many IT pros take risks with backups, particularly when it comes to restoration, according to an InformationWeek survey. Find out more in "IT Gambling With Backups."]

For example, rather than charging 40 cents to 75 cents per gigabyte per month to back up your data, the new model charges 16.6 cents for the backup, plus an additional 16.7 to 50 cents based on how much of your data you restore.

If you typically restore 25% or more of your protected storage each month, your total cost will be 67 cents per gigabyte per month (17 cents for the backup plus 50 cents for the restores). This means well-run IT shops that aren't constantly restoring crashed servers, and only restore 5% of their backed-up data, will pay just 34 cents per gigabyte per month.

Pricing is set annually based on your restore volume in the previous year, with new customers paying the maximum rate for six months and then having their rates set for the rest of the first year.

Recognizing that not all restores are created equal, Asigra charges just 7 cents per gigabyte for disaster recovery drills. You call your provider a month in advance and say, "Next Sunday we're running a drill," and that excludes your single biggest restore from your cost calculations.

Because the providers that run Asigra's software have bandwidth and system performance costs related to restore jobs, this new pricing model not only rewards users for limiting their need to restore by running a reliable infrastructure in the first place, but also brings the cost to users more in line with the cost to the provider.

Asigra also announced new features in Asigra Backup 12.2. They include element-level recovery from database backups of Exchange and SharePoint servers, enhanced virtual disaster recovery functionality to let users restore crashed servers to their providers' compute clouds, and cloud-to-cloud backup for Google Apps.

As I've written before, there's a big difference between the data protection that SaaS providers offer, which protects the data against failures and errors at the provider, and the backup corporate admins do, which protects the data against user error as well. Asigra's cloud-to-cloud backup lets you move to Google Apps and still restore the email the VP of HR deleted last week but really, really needs today.

Next page: EMC Rolls Out New Data Domain Appliances


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