DPM 2007 in the heterogeneous enterprise


One question that I hear frequently is “I love what Microsoft is doing for backup of my Windows servers.  But what about my non-Windows servers?”  Similarly, one might ask “What about heterogeneous environments?

A different question that is often confused with these is “Is DPM enterprise-ready?” 

To separate these questions, let me address the latter with the clearest explanation that I have heard from one Microsoft VP who said that “enterprise-ready” meant that your company can depend on it.  And YES, your company can depend on DPM 2007 to protect and recover your data.  In fact, DPM describes itself as suitable for “enterprises of all sizes“, which means that DPM brings traditionally “enterprise-class” (aka large corporate) capabilities like continuous data protection to mainstream Windows environments whether they be “Global 500” or “Small Business” customers. 

That’s enough use of the “E-word” — let’s talk about the “H-word”.  Heterogeneity

Microsoft has put a significant effort into delivering a best-of-breed level of protection for Microsoft platforms, including:

  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Virtual Server
  • Windows Server
  • Windows desktops

But we recognize that not all environments use exclusively Microsoft server technology.  For those that use Windows Server as a platform for a third-party application, DPM has capabilities that you should explore.  But for OS platforms other than Windows, such as Linux or any UNIX running on a mid-range platform – you need a “heterogeneous” backup capability.

Notice that I did not say, “you need a heterogeneous backup product“. 

Frankly, while many IT professionals would like to have a single backup product that backs up every single platform in their environment, most often find that a general purpose utility (like a backup product) can either do a few things well or a wider variety of things less-well.

I come from an Air Force background – so one analogy might be that that the military doesn’t use just one type of aircraft.  One aircraft can’t do everything well.  So we have bombers and we have fighters.  And even within fighters, some work better in certain scenarios than others.  In fact, just recently, Lockheed Martin announced the F-35B.  The F-35 is a “multi-role” fighter (again, folks wanting to have a single be-all device).  But the F-35 “B” enables near vertical take-off and landing (STOVL) which is great for the Marines in the US and UK – and is set to replace the aging Harrier.  See, specialization … based on workload (mission) and key stakeholder requirements.

When Microsoft looked at the backup market and what customers’ needs were, we saw that some customers said that they wanted a single backup solution that was heterogeneous

But in a mature 20+ year space like “backup”, many of those same requesters also acknowledged that they were already running more than one backup solution – usually defined by workload (what was being backed up). 

Would it be nice to have a single solution?  YES

Does one exist that meets all of their varied needs of their various workloads?  NO

So, Microsoft committed to delivering what we think is the best backup solution and most supported recovery solution for Windows servers, whose protection and restoration we have a vested interest in.  They depend on Microsoft applications and platforms, so we focused on what we could do to ensure that their data is protected and recoverable.

And whenever customers need greater functionality than any one product can offer — this is where technology partnerships are forged.  In this case, Microsoft is partnering with folks like EMC, who have a great reputation in backing up heterogeneous environments. 

EMC_logo  For the EMC press release, click here.

This enables heterogeneous environments that are excited about what Microsoft is bringing to data protection for their Microsoft workloads … and still have a single set of tapes that retains their data across their heterogeneous environment (notice, I am not saying “enterprise” <grin>).  Specifically, with the joint solution, heterogeneous customers can:

Protect all of your Windows, SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint platforms to DPM 2007 disk, enabling continuous protection to disk for fast restore.  All of the backup and restore tasks are performed by the same company (Microsoft) who developed the application – and can be sold by the same Microsoft partner or account team, deployed by the same Microsoft integrator or consultant, and supported by Microsoft product support organization.  This is great news for the Microsoft administrator who lives and breathes the Microsoft application.

The DPM server disk can then be backed up to a heterogeneous tape farm – like EMC Networker.  Because the DPM replica areas use native NTFS volumes, backup applications can protect the data from DPM’s perspective, instead of having to reach to every production server.  And because DPM provides a development kit which allows even deeper integration, backup vendors can develop agents to back up more than just the DPM files, but other components as well – just like an Exchange agent or a SharePoint agent, partners can develop DPM agents that really integrate with their backup solution.

One set of tapes on the back of the heterogeneous environment – and an all-Microsoft solution on the front for the application platforms..  This is a great solution that shows the strength of well-suited partnership. 

Here is a quote from the press release:

Mark Sorenson, EMC’s Senior Vice President of Information Management Software, said, “The majority of EMC customers heavily rely on Microsoft applications.  Through this integration, we’re helping them more effectively protect their critical data and easily deploy the latest technologies from EMC to better manage their backup and recovery processes. EMC NetWorker’s proven, enterprise backup technology will enable DPM customers to non-disruptively expand and simplify their protection processes.  By integrating NetWorker with DPM, we expect to help deliver superior backup capabilities that make it easier for customers to protect their businesses.”

On a personal note, I must confess that this particular arrangement was originally a little confusing to me — as I have a long history before coming to Microsoft of competing with EMC. 

  • I was with Cheyenne (pre-Computer Associates) selling ARCserve versus Legato Networker. 
  • I was with NSI Double-Take for several years, competing with RepliStor among others. 
  • At one point, I was an independent Seagate (Backup Exec) reseller & consultant … pre-Veritas, pre-Symantec.

EMC is about the only backup standard that I haven’t had a personal direct relationship with — until now. 

But this is a great solution for heterogeneous environments that depend on Microsoft application and server platforms, but want one set of tapes (among other benefits).  So, if you fall in this camp – consider the joint solution for protecting your heterogeneous environment.

PS> there are several other great DPM partnerships that have been coming to market, and I will be blogging these over the next several weeks.

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