Cloud vendors: Replication is not backup

I’ve been following cloud backup vendors (e.g. Mozy, Carbonite, Crashplan) quite closely — and am generally a big fan — but have not spent a lot of time looking at primary cloud vendors. That is, I haven’t spent much time looking at those who would like you to store the only copy of a given piece of data on their storage. Vendors like Amazon, Iron Mountain, and Nirvanix want you to put things like your “persistent” data in their cloud and claim that they can store this data for you cheaper than you can.  Some of these vendors are telling potential customers that the data in their cloud doesn’t need to be backed up, because they’re replicating it all over the place.  I’ve got one word for that: balderdash.

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Crash-consistent backups aren't good enough

Scott Waterhouse finalized his thoughts on the whole VMware backup idea on his blog today.  One of the things he said that surprised me was that, while you can’t get application-consistent backups in VMware without the use of a host-level agent, you can get crash-consistent backups. My response is simply this:  I’m sorry, that is not even close to the MINIMUM requirement of what you need.
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Why your company needs a Tweep

Tweep: a person who uses twitter

The other day I posted a blog post about Why I love Twitter.  It was very popular and got a lot of people talking about how useful it was to me in that scenario.  I’d also argue that the post points out how useful it was to those on the other side of the conversation — and how everyone should be doing what they were doing.  Let me elaborate.
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Hyper-V ahead of VMware in the backup race

Hyper-V offers fully-supported, application-aware, transactionally-consistent backups of any applications that have a VSS writer.  These include Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle, SharePoint, and others.  There is no need in Hyper-V to put an agent in any VM.  Your applications will get properly backed up and they will know they’ve been backed up (thus clearing their logs) — without any agents.  VMware, on the other hand, offers no such support — even though the functionality to do so has been available for seven years. And I think it’s time we talk about it.

BTW, if you’re not that familar with Microsoft VSS and all it allows you to do, you should read this blog post I wrote last week first.

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What is Windows VSS & why you should care

I’ve just finished my research out what VMware and Hyper-V do (or don’t do) with Windows Volume Shadow Services (VSS) on Windows Guests.  This whole thing started from a post by Scott Waterhouse that basically said that there was no way in VMware to get an application-consistent backup without performing a host-based backup. Scott appears to have been given at least some bad information, but he’s a lot closer to the truth than most people realize.

But as I was googling my way around, I found a number of people asking questions about just what VSS is, and other people giving incorrect answers to some of those questions.  So I thought that before I respond to Scott’s post,  I should start with what VSS is and why you should care. Continue reading