Mr. Backup reflects on 30-year career

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Today (Jan 23) marks 30 years to the day that W. Curtis Preston joined the backup industry. Fresh out of the US Navy and wanting to make a name for himself, he joined MBNA, a 35-billion dollar credit card company as “the backup guy.” Within seven years he would write the industry’s first book dedicated to backup, and since that time, he’s gone on to be the world’s leading expert in backup and recovery. What were backups like in 1993? How have things changed over the years? And how did he apapt to all of those changes? Prasanna takes the lead as host for this episode, asking Curtis a number of very insightful questions. Be sure to join us for this very special episode.


[00:00:00] Prasanna Malaiyandi:

Hi, and welcome to Backup Central’s Restore it All podcast. I’m your host, Prasanna Malaiyandi. And with me, I have my lovely guest who is all scratched up and looks like he was in a bar fight. Curtis Preston,

[00:01:05] W. Curtis Preston: Okay. for those watching on the video on , you can see my arm, my hand. There’s my hand. Um, yeah, I was at a bar fight yesterday. Bar fight with a, with a set of stairs. As of five minutes ago, I have, I’m at about 90% of cleaning my wood shop out of all of the various little pieces of scraps.

And by the way, when you use power tools on vinyl flooring, , it

[00:01:36] Prasanna Malaiyandi: just splinters everywhere.

[00:01:38] W. Curtis Preston: oh my God. It’s just, it’s not like, it’s not like dust. It’s like, I don’t know how, what to call it. I mean, it’s dust, but it’s like pixelated dust. So it’s, it’s just very bulky, right? It doesn’t lay on the floor like dust without even sweeping it up.

It creates giant piles, very quickly. And that’s what I’m in the process of trying to rid my, my shop of is, is, uh, that anyway, but you’re, but you’re, you’re leading the show today, so what are, why, why, why is

[00:02:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: up? So today is, I don’t know, Curtis, let’s see. Has it been, let’s see. We’ve known each other for a while and we always talk about how you’ve been in this space forever. And I do mean forever, But today, right. It’s a big.

[00:02:27] W. Curtis Preston: for a while now, I’ve been saying coming up on 30 years.

[00:02:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah,

[00:02:32] W. Curtis Preston: Um,

[00:02:33] Prasanna Malaiyandi: it’s no longer the 15 or 20 plus years in the industry. Right? It’s now 30, the big three. Oh,

[00:02:42] W. Curtis Preston: years. Uh, yeah. By the time

[00:02:44] Prasanna Malaiyandi: so how does it make that feel you?

[00:02:47] W. Curtis Preston: uh, you know, uh, I mean, you know, I, I, I’m old. What can I say? ? What can I say? I felt Yeah, go ahead.

[00:02:58] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Now, aren’t you glad though you’re not sitting there still like swapping out tapes like you used to do in your first job?

[00:03:04] W. Curtis Preston: Oh dude. Well, except for that time when I got paid a ridiculous amount of money to swap tapes. Yes. Right. You know, we’ve told that story a couple times where I once got paid $10,000 to load up a tape library. , this is the

[00:03:22] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Take the money.

[00:03:23] W. Curtis Preston: swapping moment. Take the money and run.

[00:03:25] Prasanna Malaiyandi: You know what I bet though, today what you would end up doing is you take the $10,000 and then you’d go spend like $500 hiring some college kids to basically

[00:03:35] W. Curtis Preston: You know what?

[00:03:36] Prasanna Malaiyandi: you.

[00:03:37] W. Curtis Preston: That Outsourcing. Outsourcing, right. Well, I don’t know. I’m, you know, as we’ve discussed on the podcast, I’m kind of a DIYer, so I would probably still, I would, I, I would want to keep

[00:03:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: tedious like that.

[00:03:49] W. Curtis Preston: What’s that?

[00:03:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: tedious like that though, would you really?

[00:03:53] W. Curtis Preston: Oh, it was so tedious. It took the reason why it was so, it was so much money. It was because I was in there.

Um, by the way, that money came from, not a sponsor. Um, I was in Amazon putting in their first enterprise wide backup system. This was 1998, and my bill rate as a backup expert was 250 bucks an. And it took, it took me a week to do that, to ba They basically, they bought this big tape library. They bought all these tapes to go with it.

And um, and it took me a week to unpack and label the,

[00:04:35] Prasanna Malaiyandi: say you had to label was the one that took a while.

[00:04:38] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. You had to, I, I had to go print labels, right? I had to get labels, I had to pull the little sticker off, and then I had to put them on, and, and they gotta be on, just so you know, or it doesn’t work. And you know what I, what I did what I always say at the end of the story, Because I’ve told this sir a few times, is at the end what Amazon got, uh, as advice was, Hey, just so you know, they sell these with the barcodes already on them, for the, for the future.

Uh, by the way, and by the way, this was, this was before Amazon sold stuff, right? So we didn’t buy the tapes from Amazon. Um, we would’ve, we would’ve paid retail back in the day. What

[00:05:20] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Fries electronics?

[00:05:22] W. Curtis Preston: Uh uh, no, I don’t think so. We were in, we were in Seattle. Pre, pre. Who would you have bought tapes from back then?

What? C D W, maybe

[00:05:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: CDW

[00:05:35] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Like, I can’t remember the world before Amazon, you know?

[00:05:41] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. It’s funny that you mentioned that I was driving down the, uh, Stevens Creek by my house the other day and there is actually still a mom and pop computer store that still exists. that I remember. B, going to to buy parts for my first PC couple decades ago, more than a couple decades ago,

[00:06:05] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah.

[00:06:06] Prasanna Malaiyandi: still in the same location.

I don’t know what they sell these days. I don’t know how they stay in business, but.

The thing I think would be interesting to our listeners is as you’ve gone through all these changes, right, or seen all these changes, how did you keep up? With the change in technology and not feel sort of like a dinosaur, right? That you’re about to become obsoleted. Right. And how do you sort of like, it is a big shift though, right? Moving from one technology to another as new things are coming up and sometimes people feel like, I don’t know how to make that leap into that new technology, into the next thing. How, what can they do to sort of help them with that transit?

Okay, so let’s go way back in the day. So I know everyone’s heard the, the stories about you working at a bank,

[00:06:56] W. Curtis Preston: At a bank, 1993, the year was 1993. My oldest daughter, the singer of the, uh, theme song for this podcast is negative one years old. She’s, but a glimmer in my eye at that moment, I was fresh out of the Navy right.

Had little to no experience with computers, and I, um, leveraged my wife, uh, to get my first job in backups. Right. You know, I, I often say that like, um, That the career up until, up until the point that I wrote the book, the first book, which was in 99. My career was complete happenstance, right? Um, so I was, I was in Delaware because the Navy took me to Philadelphia, right?

The na I was in the Navy on, on the u s s Constellation, Macy rest in peace. , um, she went from, from San Diego to Philadelphia to go into dry dock. And so I was in the Navy, uh, getting out of the Navy. Uh, right now, 30 years ago, I would’ve been on what we call terminal leave, which is you get, basically, you get, you take all your saved up leave, and then you leave.

You just don’t come back to the ship. Yeah. And then you, you just get paid for all your vacation and you leave.

I was a fresh graduate of the National Radio Institute of America . Right. I took one of those correspondence courses that you saw on the back of.

Um, what was that? Pop, pop Popular Science. Is that, is that the name of the magazine? I think it was called Popular Science. And you’d have this ad like Build Your Own Computer. And I took that because it was a correspondence course and I could take it out to see. And um, so I did that. I built a 2 86 computer and that was all I, I think it was dos, I think it was a DOS computer.

Right. Um, and. Uh, that was the limit of my experience. And then I got the job as the backup guy and I had to, I mean, I had to bone up really quickly on Unix. Uh, it was all Unix back then, right? It was, um, uh, at and t system. Five, three Uh, and we had seven Altrix Machine, deck. Digital.

Digital. Remember, digital equipment corporation, a k a deck, seven altrix machines in Lake seven, uh, three And that was the entire computing environment when I came in, which is amazing to think about that for a 35 billion company, right? They, they had a mainframe that there was that world, and then there was this handful of Unix computers, which exploded the day after I got there. Um,

[00:09:57] Prasanna Malaiyandi: is your phone probably has more computing power than all those systems combined

[00:10:02] W. Curtis Preston: Well, I know it has more storage capacity than my entire data center did, or at least it has roughly. I think I have a 256 gigabyte iPhone and we had 300 gigabytes of storage space

[00:10:19] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Isn’t that crazy to think about that in the last 30 years. Right. That’s

[00:10:23] W. Curtis Preston: the way, that was 300 gigabytes at the end of my. when we got there, we would’ve had nothing.

Right? Because the, each Altrix machine had its own eight millimeter, which those back then, those were a gigabyte or two, like they, they weren’t very big. And um, the three they only had quick 80, which was 80 megabytes. That was a tape drive. And then we had the, we had one eight millimeter tape drive that we shared amongst them.

Right. Which was, which was RFS mounted. We’ve talked about that before that it was like N F F, it was a pre predecessor to nfs, but you could mount devices. And so we would RFS mount, you know, the tape drive, we had seven machines seven days a week. We would do a rotating full one day a week on each different machine.

And um, then, um, And then we would, you know, and then we’d do an incremental every day on those little quick eighties. But yeah, so that whole, that whole thing when I got there, that was 20 gigabytes, , the whole data center. It was by the time I was done that it was like 300 we bought and like literally the last few months we bought a new machine, which was an HPT 500.

I remember. Which was, uh, it was a monster and it was a hundred gigabytes

all on one server.

[00:11:56] Prasanna Malaiyandi: you’re probably thinking, oh my God, how do I back this thing up?

[00:12:00] W. Curtis Preston: Well, that’s exactly what I said. I was like, it came, it came with a dat drive, right? There was like four gigabytes. I was like, okay. So that’s 25 tape changes. To do a full, so I, I basically, so, so that machine was, I guess it wasn’t in the last few months, I guess it was in the last year or so, because that machine was what allowed me to justify the purchase of my first spectral logic, uh, tape libraries.

That’s how I first came to do Molly. Um, and, you know, and our, and the fine folks over at Spectra Logic, not a sponsor that, um, you know, Uh, that, that also came as a guest on the podcast, but yeah, that’s what I used. You know, you talk about changes in technology and how do I, how did I adapt? It was kind of the whole, like necessity is the mother of invention.

Right. Necessity is also the mother of adaptation. Um, and so I will, I’ll tell you the, as I adapted, I know I wanted, As we were going to this, this concept of a centralized area where all the tape would be, cuz we had a tape library, and by that I meant we had a room where tapes went, right? We had in those, we had channel attached nine track tape drives.

If you don’t know what that looks like, they’re the old ass things that you see. In movies from the fifties. Those big giant, they’re, they’re refrigerator sized. They’re bigger. Yes, they’re, yeah, it’s a reel to reel. They’re bigger than a refrigerator. Um, and we had three or four of those in there, and we had a bunch of right line cabinets.

Do you know what right line is? They’re, they’re, um, you know, a very high end, um, cabinet, but like metal cabinet maker, and they have like, they have these, like moving cabinets. So like, you can, you can fit a lot in square square space. Well, that’s what we had. And I wanted to put all of the, the, the, the Spectra tape Libraries.

I don’t remember what the, the brand was, but they were, they were like a few U high.

[00:14:15] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:15] W. Curtis Preston: and then they, you know, they fit in a rack and you know, the deep rack and then they were like a few U high and I needed, I eventually needed like 10 or 12 of them, and I wanted to put them all in one space.

[00:14:32] Prasanna Malaiyandi: so they’re all together. Yeah.

[00:14:34] W. Curtis Preston: I wanted data security.

Right. I didn’t like this idea of tapes. You were just floating all over the place, which is what that was what we did it back then. The tapes just hanging out, right? Literally sitting on the top of the

[00:14:44] Prasanna Malaiyandi: On desk

[00:14:45] W. Curtis Preston: Um, what’s that? Or on a desk or whatever. Yeah, yeah. Um, so we wanted to put it across the, across, I said across the street, literally across the hall.

But that was. 50, 75 feet away from the servers, maybe a hundred feet in the wrong place. And all we had was SCSI,

[00:15:09] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Oh no.

[00:15:10] W. Curtis Preston: By the way, SCSI two, mind you, the which we began to call slow and skinny SCSI because they came out with fast wide SCSI. so all we had was slow and skinny SCSI. They had fast wide SCSI that could go that.

But my servers didn’t have fast wide SCSI. They had SCSI two, and so we bought these boxes from a company called lan. The fact that I still remember that is crazy. But that was the name of the company and basically they were SCSI, two Tokai , fast wide, ultra SCSI adapters. And we had one, we had one on each end.

So we’d, we’d we’d up Reve to ultra wide SCSI, have a hundred foot

[00:15:57] Prasanna Malaiyandi: date over

[00:15:59] W. Curtis Preston: and then down Rev, right. And Spectra Logic was like, Hey man, this don’t work. This ain’t our fault. Right? And they’re like, if we, if you ever prop, if you ever have a problem with the tape library because of those boxes. You’re gonna ha, we’re gonna ask you to bring that tape library back across the hall.

Plug it in with a regular SCSI two cable. You know what? Never happened, never happened. Those pair land boxes were rock solid,

[00:16:25] Prasanna Malaiyandi: that’s a surprise.

[00:16:27] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Um, and that’s old, that’s old electrical signal stuff. That’s not fiber, right? That’s, that stuff’s clunky, right? But those things were perfect. Never once did I have to crawl under the floor to disconnect a para box, replace the para box, troubleshoot it, never once.

So those things were perfect. . Right. And so we just adapted over time, right? And, and, and of course also in this, before the tape library thing happened was when my first Shell script broke. Uh, we talked about this on a podcast, I think just last week, where I started out with shell scripts and I didn’t think I could get budget for, you know, a, a commercial solution.

And, um, I remember going to my boss, Susan Davidson, shout out to her. She, she’s out there somewhere and, um, she, um, I just said, listen, I can’t, I can’t keep up that, by the way, that’s a key. That was a key is being okay to say, I can’t do it right. I can no longer keep up with what’s happening. I’m getting too scared.

We’re gonna lose data and it’s gonna be my fault. And she’s like, well, aren’t there? Isn’t there, like software you can buy and I’m like, I can spend money Um, and I remember that my very first and the company was, uh, company called Software Moguls. The product was called SM r c, and on that shelf behind me, while you can’t see it on that shelf, behind me is a cd. That is SMR from back in the day. Yeah. Um, but, uh, I, I got that, uh, so I was able to buy that. I remember that it was $16,000. Just remember that my first. Purchase of a piece of backup software like that was $16,000. Um, and the competing solutions were like quarter million dollars, like Bud Tools, like a quarter million dollars.

Um, because we wanted to use tape, tape drives in each server. , basically, we, we, we had a, we had a shitty network, and so we didn’t want to, we, we knew we couldn’t do network based backup, right? And so we wanted tape drives on each server. And that meant, in their words, they were media servers. And media servers were a server price versus a client price.

And that’s

[00:18:53] Prasanna Malaiyandi: it’s more expensive.

I was gonna ask you like how you even did vendor selection, if you remember back then. Right. And it looks like price was a big aspect of that.

[00:19:02] W. Curtis Preston: Pri pri. Well, basically we had some, you know, it was like, here are the, here are the oss we have, right? Databases weren’t an issue yet. Right. Um, because those, you still, nobody had agents for Sybase or whatever, right? Um, the, you, you still scr, you did a, you either put it in backup mode or you

[00:19:28] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Shut it

[00:19:28] W. Curtis Preston: dump and sweep or whatever, right?

Yeah. Um, so it’s like, Hey, we have Solaris, we have a I x, we have. You know, uh, I think we got rid of the system, five systems, and we have Alteryx and we have a deck Unix system. Now, um, you know, you needed, you needed to handle all of those, right? Um, and you needed to support local tape drives. So Arcserve was out, Arcserve was the other big product that was back then, Arcserve, they wanted a centralized backup. and everything over the network, I’m like, look, we have a, we have, we still have thick net under the floor right? We have vampire taps. For those of you that have grown up in a world of, of 10 based tea, um, vampire taps, it was coax cable and you literally t screwed into the cable

[00:20:29] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:20:29] W. Curtis Preston: It’s like a saddle tap on a plumbing line, right? You just literally pierced the cable. I mean, bits are just falling out all over the floor, . So we’re like, we’re not doing that.

[00:20:40] Prasanna Malaiyandi: So after all this time working on backup, right. Then when did you start getting like interested in the disaster recovery side of things? Because, at the same time, like somewhere in that job, right? You did start to then focus on disaster recovery as well.

[00:20:58] W. Curtis Preston: Well it was, it was a necessity for the job. Um, basically we did a DR test every six months and you know, we would put everybody. Uh, in, in the place. Uh, we do it over the weekend cuz downtime during the week wasn’t acceptable. And then, um, and we didn’t have a sandbox or the cloud or whatever you, you had to literally shoot a server in the head. right? Well, I guess not. Literally you had to shoot a server in the head. Figuratively. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from that back then, right? This idea of having someone else do it. This idea of having great documentation, um, documentation is, you know, that’s easy to follow.

An easy to update. And just, just that concept of doing regular recovery testing. Um, we, we, we didn’t have, we didn’t have to worry about regular recovery testing with files and stuff because we did like 10 restores a day. We had like 12,000 employees who were apparently complete morons because because 0.01% of them every day were, was screwing up something and we were having to restore it. So literally like 10 restores a day. Right. And maybe that’s why I got really good at backup because, you

[00:22:27] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Of the restore side, simplify.

[00:22:29] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:22:30] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. you know, what? I wonder if it’s interesting that today things just kind of work. I wonder what the percentage is that people do restores these days, and maybe that’s where doing restore testing becomes really valuable. Because like you were saying, you do 12 a day, you’re gonna get really good at it.

Right? It’s just sort of like muscle memory. But if you’re only doing it once every month or so, right?

[00:22:55] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah,

[00:22:56] Prasanna Malaiyandi: you lose.

[00:22:58] W. Curtis Preston: and I, I make a similar comment about, you know, you kids today, so everybody’s on solid state devices these days, right? That stuff just doesn’t fail. Like the stuff we were on back in the day, we were on individual servers running on individual hard drives. No. No raid. What’s raid

[00:23:21] Prasanna Malaiyandi: We were talking about disaster recovery,

right? And how you got interested. And then we were also talking about how people today don’t necessarily have the same type of, like, they’re not doing restores all the time because discs aren’t failing. Things are more reliable, things are more robust, right? And so you lose touch of those things.

[00:23:40] W. Curtis Preston: I, I don’t think that we were doing DR testing every six months because we were altruistic or amazing or anything. It was because we were a bank and the O C C required it. Um, And you know, it’s sort of like if you are in the biotech world, you know what validation is? Uh, validation is a giant pain in the butt.

Uh, for those of you that don’t know what it is, I’m not even gonna bother explaining it, but, you know, and so they’re just really good at processes like that. Um, we just had, we just got good at. Doing testing. Right. Um, and I don’t think moving forward in my career, I don’t think I ever worked at another company that did DR.

Testing the way they did, or even anywhere near as frequently, or, yeah.

[00:24:35] Prasanna Malaiyandi: So yeah. So you’ve been doing sort of server backups, right? Files. You’ve been looking at Dr. And DR testing. At some point in your career, you started looking, I’m guessing, at applications and databases.

[00:24:49] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah.

[00:24:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Right. And that must have been sort of a completely different world when you first approached it versus what you were doing with server backup and file backup,

[00:25:03] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Uh, the biggest one for me at the time was Oracle. And Oracle. Once you figured out how to put it in the backup mode, Oracle backup was a cinch. , right? Uh, if you were good at scripting, if you were good at scripting, nobody had an Oracle agent.

[00:25:21] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:25:22] W. Curtis Preston: There was no rman. There was something before Rman, but it’s it name, it’s name escaped to me.

But there, there, there was no rman there, there was just, you had the alter table space begin back up. By the way, nowadays you could just say alter database, begin back up. So much easier. Um, I had to, I had to query the database, ask for the names of all the table spaces. Then put each table space in backup mode, um, and then we could do the backup, right?

That was pretty easy-peasy. And then you had to, uh, and we would also do a log switch at the end to make sure that we, you know, we had the latest logs and then we’d back them up. Uh, sql SQL Server wasn’t a thing, right? So we had Sybase, which for those don’t know, is the OG SQL server,

[00:26:11] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I was gonna say, yeah, . Not a lot of people know


[00:26:15] W. Curtis Preston: yeah.

Um, SQL Server was originally Sybase and they were originally gonna co do it, and then, yeah, that didn’t work out. Um, but yeah, so Cy, there was Sybase that we had Informix, um, Informix. Informix had a hot backup mode, but it, but it created downtime, so you could tell Informix to stop right. Because Oracle’s hot backup mode, you could continue operating right?

And it would just change how it did redo logs. Informix would literally stop rights to the database. Right? And, and sql, we couldn’t fig, the only way to do SQL or Sybase back then was a dump and sweep. Right? Um, and there was a company. Mm. Oh oh and and Sybase backup had a feature that if you were doing it to tape and the tape filled up and you were waiting to swap tapes, cuz it supported the concept of, you know, putting a database on multiple tapes, the, it would hang the database.

So if you’re doing backups and you were doing backups manually, cuz that was the only way to do it. If you were doing backups and you forgot to, to notice that the tape was full and then that needed to be swapped out, it would literally hang the database. Like the database would just, and there was a company, their name I forgot, but there was a company who solved that problem and they became, it’s sort of like, um, You know, Veeam, when Veeam first came out, and they were really the first ones going after VMware, they solved a problem No.

That nobody else was solving at the time. It was like that, but for Buffer Sybase. And they became, and I remember that that company got acquired by, uh, ca, but I don’t remember their,

[00:28:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: So I guess in this transition though, like going back to the themes of like, what do people need to know? Because even today, right, this probably still applies if you’re very heavily focused on virtualization when you’re switching to applications and databases, it’s a little bit of a scary world because everything’s so different. But like what are some, I guess, hints or like best practices or tips you can give people?

[00:28:37] W. Curtis Preston: Well it, I think the hardest part is, To not put your head in the sand Right? So there, there’s a, there’s, so I, I’m gonna say there’s two extremes, right? One is jumping on every single new technology the moment it comes out, and then letting it consume your life. To figure out, let’s say if all you care about is backup, uh, which is, that’s pretty much, that was my, it’s been my job for a long time.

That’s all I cared about. Well, how do I back this thing up?

[00:29:11] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Mm-hmm.

[00:29:12] W. Curtis Preston: Um, there have been so many applications and application, like things that have come out since, um, You know, and, and, and also, I dunno about applications, but use cases. So, you know, first we were just backing up the OS and then people started saying, well, how do you restore a server?

Right? And then we, you know, and then it’s like, well, we’re gonna talk about bare metal recovery. And, um, and um, then it was, well, we’ve got a way to back up databases, but then that wasn’t good enough. And so we had to start looking at like agent-based backup.

[00:29:53] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:29:53] W. Curtis Preston: Um, and then a then there was a big swing against agent base backup.

We’ve talked about that a few times. DBA DBA versus agent based Backed up. Then what began like. 10 plus years. The only thing that was consuming all my time was the problem of tape. Right. Um, the, the, um,

[00:30:17] Prasanna Malaiyandi: shining problem.

[00:30:18] W. Curtis Preston: shining problem and the fact that everybody in the world misunderstood tape.

Everybody thought the tapes were too slow in reality, they were too fast, and the fact that they were treating them like they were too slow was making it actually worse. That went on for, for quite a long time, made me a lot of money. Um, and, you know, paid, paid the bills for a while,

[00:30:39] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I’m sure you dove into virtualization, right?

Things had to be done differently, right? And so I know on the podcast just the other day, we were just talking about V C B, right?

[00:30:51] W. Curtis Preston: yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:30:53] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And those sort of

[00:30:53] W. Curtis Preston: the. For me personally, I got virtualization. Like, like it, it just, I was like, this is amazing. Right? Um, and I also got that it completely broke backups. And again, that was another thing where you just like, if you, all you care about is backups.

You worked and you figured out before, before, um,

[00:31:22] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Vendors offered solutions, right, to

[00:31:25] W. Curtis Preston: Yes. , I was working with customers where it’s like, I don’t want to go change my whole backup product, just cuz I started using VMware.

[00:31:32] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Mm-hmm.

[00:31:32] W. Curtis Preston: um, you know, Veeam may be a great product, but I, I don’t want to use, I don’t want to use one product for my virtualization and another product for my servers, right?

That, and by the way, that has been one of my mantras, right, is simplicity whenever possible. I’d much rather buy one product that’s decent in everything than to buy three products that are great at three things, right? Um, and especially if you, if you can meet your requirements with the one product. . I would do that any day of the week.

So we were, we would do things, it’s about adapting, right? So we would do things like, Well, we, we went to monthly full backups instead of weekly full backups. We went to, uh, a rolling month schedule so that you were never doing, um, uh, and also with VMware you had a lot of work to make sure you weren’t doing two fulls on the same client, I’m sorry, a VM that was on the same virtualization server at the same time, cuz that would just kill the box.

We did crazy stuff like that. That was a lot of work. , right. But it was easy for me to grok, right? It was like, I understand the problem, the solutions are complicated and just a lot of work, but I understand the problem. And then what happened?

[00:32:51] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I was gonna say apps and VMs .

[00:32:53] W. Curtis Preston: But apps, again, apps were easy to groc, right? It’s like, I either, I, I basically, a new app is relatively easy to handle from a backup perspective. You’re either gonna do a dump it, a sweep, you’re gonna shut it down, or there’s gonna be an agent, or there’s gonna be some way, like with Oracle to put it in hot backup modem backup live.

It’s not, that’s not that hard. Um, the. But like, when you start doing something crazy like the cloud,

[00:33:29] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:33:29] W. Curtis Preston: that’s when, and then, and we’ll then we’ll talk about containers, right? When you start basically saying, you know what, we’re not gonna have, we’re not gonna have computers anymore, we’re not gonna have servers.

We’re gonna do this. I remember the first time I heard serverless, I was like, what the hell is that? Right? And they’re like, well, well, there’s this server,

[00:33:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. It’s just

[00:33:52] W. Curtis Preston: Serverless always starts with a server. What’s that? It’s just not your server.

[00:33:56] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

It’s not your server and you’re not managing right. You’re just running code and you’re good to go. But I think you’re right though. It’s even for me, like going from on-premises technology to thinking about the cloud, it’s like. , your mind blows up, right? Just the complexity, all the different cases, but also all the cool things you can now start to do once you’re running in the cloud.

[00:34:19] W. Curtis Preston: Uh, it’s funny when you say that the first thing that happens in my mind is all the cool ways that you can create data that I don’t know how we’re gonna back up

[00:34:28] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:34:29] W. Curtis Preston: right? Because it’s c so well let, let ask, see what you think about this. Most people that go into the cloud, as I make quotes in the air, they’re just doing lifting and shift.

would you say most people More than half?

[00:34:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I would say more than half. And I would also say that those early customers who started adopting cloud very

[00:34:55] W. Curtis Preston: It was 90%

[00:34:57] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah, well it was 90% and the other thing is that was all shadow IT back then. Right? You didn’t have the central IT folks managing the IT and the cloud infrastructures.

It was a department being like, Hey, I gotta get this project done. I can’t go to it because it’s gonna take ’em a year to procure the budget to go through things. Let me swipe my credit card and spin up some resources on the cloud and get going. Going back to your point, right, it’s like all those places in the cloud, that data may exist and how do you


[00:35:25] W. Curtis Preston: And that’s, for me been my big complaint with the cloud, right? I mean, I, I love the cloud. I mean, it’s, it’s so, it’s like, you know, how do you hate virtualization? Right? How do you hate the cloud? I do think it’s, um, a little oversold overbought, right?

People think, oh, I’m gonna go to the cloud cuz it’s cheaper. It, it could be depending on how you use it, but it most likely won’t be right. Um,

[00:35:58] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Have you seen the recent article bought article? There’s, uh, recently there was a tweet by the company that sells base camp. Uh, and they basically looked at their AW s bill, broke it down, compute storage, and then they made a comparison to what if we just ran it on premises?

And so that’s what they’re starting to do now, is how can we now shift back to premises because it’s cheaper.

[00:36:26] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. And maybe it is, maybe it depends on how you use the cloud, right? If you refactor and you look at each, you know, if you do what Drew, by the way, we didn’t

[00:36:39] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I, we did. I was just, yeah.

[00:36:41] W. Curtis Preston: We’re gonna have to fire the new

[00:36:43] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. .So since we are talking about the cloud and since Curtis just brought up the name, uh, we both work for different companies. Curtis works for Druva. I work for Zoom. This is not a podcast of either company. The opinions that you hear are our owned also. If you like what you hear and you wanna come join us, please reach out, um, at WC Preston or w Curtis Preston at gmail and join in the conversation.

We love to have guests. We’re friendly. I think, uh, people seem to want to come back every once in a while, but yeah, come join in if you think we’re totally wrong or you wanna provide your thoughts, opinions, let us know. And finally, make sure to rate slash.

[00:37:29] W. Curtis Preston: Wonderful job persona.

[00:37:32] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And leave a

comment. Leave some, Leave some, notes. Because Curtis, love Curtis and I love to read the comments. So going back, we were talking about the cloud and how, uh, protecting it and spinning it up and also about the costs and re uh, bringing.

[00:37:49] W. Curtis Preston: Yes. Yeah. So, so for me, the only thing I care ever. . Okay. Literally the only thing I care about is are we getting this on tape? That’s, that’s, it’s an old phrase that Right. Are, you know, are we backing this stuff up? Right. And when I look at the typical usage of the cloud, two things bug me. One is most everybody’s doing it wrong, right?

They’re just, they’re just, they’re just renting VMs is, is all they’re doing. And if that’s all you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong. Um, yeah. Anyway. The second is that the, the other guys . Okay. The other guys are doing it great. They’re just, they’re using this and they’re using the serverless. This and the, you know, um, they’re using Pass and SAS and ias and um, and they’re using things like r ds, DynamoDB, um, where they’re creating data. That data is only stored in a server slash app that you do not own. and they’re not backing it up

[00:38:57] Prasanna Malaiyandi: By default, they’re not packing it up.

[00:38:59] W. Curtis Preston: by default, they’re not backing it up. Some of the apps. By default actually do back up. Um, I, I was doing some research and I think RDS is one of those where if you’re using rds by default, it would create a snapshot like once a day. And that snapshot takes up storage in your account.

You pay for it. Um, I, I think that at least that, but by default, even that default is in your account, in your region. And we know what I think about that, right?

[00:39:33] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Bad, bad, bad. Or, or it’s, or it’s the other thing that everyone sort of, and I know we haven’t talked about SaaS yet, which is something we should talk about next, right? But a lot of people also think, Hey, if I have high availability provided by like AWS S three or DynamoDB, there’s no need for backup, but.

that’s not true. Backup is used for recovering from different types of disasters, right? One of which is sure a data center goes down or whatever else, but there are other purposes as well, like user corruption, malicious activity, right? All these other things that you need protect against that high availability does not give.

[00:40:12] W. Curtis Preston: Right. Um, the, uh, yeah, high availability and things like mirroring just makes the corruption more efficient. right. Um, but yeah, so. That bugs me. The, you know, the, the SASS thing bugs me. I talk to people. It’s just, it’s just, it is the most common misconception that I run into in the common IT world or the current IT world, is that backup is part of the SaaS offering,

[00:40:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: and SaaS offering Could be Microsoft 365 or one of these other offerings.

[00:40:53] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Uh, and the thing is, uh, it so isn’t right. Um, you know, and, and the thing is, you know, it could be something like GitHub, right? You need to back up your GitHub repositories or, or replicate them or something, right? You need it. Just what happens if GitHub just disappears tomorrow, by the way, that happens, right?

That absolutely happens. Um, and there are storage vendors and cloud vendors that just disappear. I, I think the best one that I have, I don’t know if you can remember the name. This is, uh, the storage. What? No, not that one. I was thinking of the cloud storage vendor that was in San Diego that was supposed to be like s3, but for the, for the enterprise. Steven Foskett worked there. Uh, their name’s completely gone, but they decided, you know what? This business sucks. We’re outta here, and they said, you guys got two

[00:41:51] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Oh, I remember that. Yes, I do remember that company. I don’t remember the name, but yeah.

[00:41:56] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah, uh, yeah. Sorry. If you got like four petabytes of data here, because that was their thing, is they were gonna be the large storage vendor and sorry if you got four petabytes and you know, we only got so much bandwidth and everybody else is trying to get off right now. Luckily, someone stepped in and provided some.

Some sort of took over and, but they could have just that stuff. All could have, right? That can happen. Uh, I mean, it’s not gonna happen to Microsoft per se, but it could, there are. , I don’t wanna malign them anymore than I already have recently, but there is a large vendor that completely decided to just abandon a current business line.

They’re not going out of business, but they’re not, we’re not doing that anymore. And the amount of notice, how much notice did their customers get? Persona?

[00:42:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Zero.

[00:42:48] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Zero. Sorry, we’re down and we’re not coming back up.

[00:42:54] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep. Yeah.

[00:42:57] W. Curtis Preston: Holy

[00:42:58] Prasanna Malaiyandi: feel bad for the

[00:42:58] W. Curtis Preston: this, I feel bad for the customers. I really do. But the but the point is, back up your stuff, man. It’s your data.

[00:43:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yep. No one else is going to care about it if you don’t care about.

[00:43:13] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. So that’s, as we made the transition into the cloud, that’s, and that’s continuing to be my challenge is when I see this really popular app, um, that creates data, you know, even if it’s just configuration data, that stuff takes time.

There’s a, there’s cost to that configuration data. Right.

[00:43:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:43:32] W. Curtis Preston: Um, but I think the final, as I look at, you know, These changes that have, that I’ve had to adapt to over the years. The final one is containers. Now, I dunno about final. Okay. But the current, the current final one, I don’t know what’s after containers, but this idea that we’re gonna have an ephemeral os as I make quotes in the air,

[00:43:55] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I remember talking to you the first time about containers and backup and you being like, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.

[00:44:02] W. Curtis Preston: yeah. Cuz everything up to this point. ,

right. Literally everything up to this point has been either put in an agent or talk to an API to back up the thing, whatever the thing is. Now, we haven’t, we, we have a thing where you can’t put agents

[00:44:22] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:44:22] W. Curtis Preston: and I back that up and then it didn’t help that, the initial response from the, um, From the container community was, if you have persistent storage on your container, you’re doing it wrong.

[00:44:37] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:44:38] W. Curtis Preston: That was the initial response I got. Right.

So that’s the current, that’s the current Charlie Foxtrot and it’ll get better. But currently, you know, the backup solutions are few and far between. Druva has one of them.

Yeah. But to, to go back to the question that you asked in the beginning.

of how do you, you know, how do you keep up date, up to date?

[00:45:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. And how do you not freak out also? Right.

[00:45:12] W. Curtis Preston: Who? Who says I’m not freaking out?

[00:45:14] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Well, . Well, I think some people will get so overwhelmed sometimes, right? They’re like, I don’t even know, like how to even take that first step.

[00:45:25] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. I mean, I would just say one is you need information. Right, and you need to surround yourself with information as much as you can. That means listening to podcasts like this one. Um, it means reading blogs. It means following Twitter feeds. , um, you know, it means, uh, LinkedIn is becoming my favorite, one of my favorite resources lately.

Right. Follow people on LinkedIn. Find out interesting people that are active in threads, right? Um, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I remember, I’ll talk about Foskett again. Steven fos. Gestalt

And I remember sit, sitting, having a lunch in the middle of Times Square with Stephen Foskett and going, what is the cloud? I’ve been hearing this thing , I’ve been hearing this. Hear this thing a lot. You gotta be, you gotta be okay asking those stupid questions,

[00:46:32] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Be

[00:46:32] W. Curtis Preston: If you’re, if. If you’re not okay doing that, you’re not gonna adapt.

Right. Um, if you want to go and, you know, if, if, if, if you have a little bit of pride, maybe you go and research. You do a little nowadays you got Google. We didn’t have Google , we didn’t have Google. Did you always have Google? Like how long have you been

Okay. You didn’t always have Google. Right? Okay. Back then we had CIS admin magazine.

Damn it. We had CIS Admin Magazine and we had Unix Review Magazine, and you got those and you read those. That was the first, that was the first public, the first thing that ever published me was the CIS Admin magazine. Um, you, you just read a lot. Uh, go read it. Read. It’s a great resource. It’s also a cesspool.

Bs, but it . There’s some interesting, I was just having an interesting discussion with somebody over, um, you know, backing up 365. It just, just don’t, it, it, it can be a vortex of nonsense,

[00:47:40] Prasanna Malaiyandi: but there’s also a lot of good articles and other things you

can find

[00:47:43] W. Curtis Preston: are, yeah.

[00:47:45] Prasanna Malaiyandi: The other thing I would also say is probably like go to conferences and talk to people, meet people, meet other

[00:47:52] W. Curtis Preston: a What’s A com? Com com. What’d you

[00:47:56] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I’ve, I’ve heard there’s this new thing about, that’s like virtual and hybrid as well for conferences.


[00:48:05] W. Curtis Preston: I went to reinvent last month. 60,000 people. Drew of us, sent 30 people, 20 of us went home with either the flu or covid.

[00:48:14] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

[00:48:14] W. Curtis Preston: So much fun. So what was that? Tell me again about how great conferences are

[00:48:19] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Well, there, there are virtual conferences as well, but there’s

like resources you can go to to learn about these topics.

[00:48:26] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Yeah. Um, but yeah, I, but you, you gotta find somebody for each topic. Make a friend in that space, right. . Um, like, like you are, you are my guy for things cloud, right? You, you know, the tech side of the cloud much better than I do. And when I, you know, when I have a, when I have a question about something, you’re, you’re my guy.

You need that for everything, right? I’ve got some people for security, I’ve got some people for networking. Get those people. And, and, and LinkedIn I think is a great Twitter. Twitter used to be where you could find this kind of thing. I don’t know.

[00:49:16] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

[00:49:17] W. Curtis Preston: LinkedIn, I think is a better way to find that person. Find a hashtag, see what’s going on in the hashtag, follow that person, comment on their stuff, comment.

Don’t just like it, comment on their stuff. Get to know them, you know, follow them. Um, connect with them and they can be your resource. Right.

[00:49:39] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Or the other thing I would also say is if you’re working in an organization or a company, right, and there are groups who are looking at some of this tech, just kind of poke them, ping them, ask them questions, right? Provide your expertise and say backup or disaster recovery. , right. Ask the questions you normally would do for the other workloads and sort of get them to start thinking because, hey, maybe they haven’t started to think about what do I do for backup with containers, or how do I

[00:50:06] W. Curtis Preston: What do you mean? Maybe there? They have absolutely not thought about backup

[00:50:11] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

[00:50:13] W. Curtis Preston: There have been so many new technologies and new ways of doing things and backup has never been discussed. Like it’s always been me raising my hand in the meeting going, oh, I’m just curious. Like, you know, um, yeah. Um, but yeah, you, you’ve got to continually adapt there.

There are some things. You can develop mantras over your ti over your time, right? You know, um, I, I, you know, I live in this crazy world where everything of value needs to be backed up. I don’t give a crap what you think, right? If your data is, if your data is valuable enough to create in the first place, and it’s valuable enough to back up.

Um, and I do believe strongly and at least the 3 21 rule, if what you’re doing for data protection doesn’t meet the 3 21 rule, then it’s not backup. By my definition. So everything needs to be backed up. It needs to be backed up and, and if it’s not 3 21, then it’s not back up. There are things you can do past that.

I don’t disagree. You know, like the veeam’s thing of the 3, 2, 110, I don’t disagree with that. I’m just saying gotta have at least the 3 21. Right. And that’s why I poke it. Things like 365 and Salesforce and stuff. Cuz they don’t, they, they got the three, that’s all they got they, they got no, they got no two, no one.

[00:51:39] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Crazy. Crazy. So years to 30. 30 down, 30. More to go.

[00:51:50] W. Curtis Preston: Uh, let’s see. I, you know, it’s funny, I didn’t think of, I will be the almost, I’ll be a little older than my mother-in-law if I. And she seems really old. I love her, but she seems really old. I don’t, yeah, I don’t, I don’t see me making it to 87. But anyway, , by the way, I just had, you know, I just had a birthday, right?

So I just had a birthday. So I’m now 57, even if I look much older due to the receding hairline and all the gray, >uh, and the very gray beard. Um, it’s a, it’s a mountain of saw with a little bit of pepper.

[00:52:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: It’s all good,

[00:52:32] W. Curtis Preston: yeah, I don’t know about 30, 30 years to go, but I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

[00:52:38] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Well, thanks for sharing your experience and advice for our listeners.

[00:52:43] W. Curtis Preston: Thanks. Anytime.

[00:52:46] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And to our listeners, thanks for listening and please remember to subscribe so you can restore it all.

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