A New Benchmark for Backup Performance: Total Time to DR
Determining backup performance has consistently been extremely difficult for customers to rationalize, seeing as there is no real meter or benchmark to look at. Just take a second and think of all the moving parts inside your backup and recovery environment (media servers, clients, databases, email, network, SAN, disk, tape, offsite vaults) - you name it, there is a laundry list of things to look at when trying to determine accurate performance metrics.
In most cases vendors will typically take the absolute best-case scenario to provide performance metrics and, as anyone knows that has spent any sort of time managing a backup infrastructure, those numbers are usually just a metric that sound impressive but are never realized in most production environments because there are too many variables one has to optimize to even achieve them.
However, FalconStor has announced something extremely unique. It has taken a scenario that is more likely to be encountered in most production environments, tested that and come up with some very attractive performance numbers for its VTL product when used in 4 Gb FC storage environment in conjunction with Veritas NetBackup's OST API. It's interesting and refreshing to see a vendor provide performance metrics based on common denominators that are more likely to be found in customer environments and ensure that if a customer does decide to deploy its VTL, the bar for performance is more likely to go up than down.
The overall metric FalconStor was going after was Total Time to DR (Disaster Recovery), which is the time it takes to backup the data, deduplicate the data, replicate the data to a remote DR site, and then finally recover the data so it is in an operational state. This metric is all encompassing, as it takes every aspect of the backup and recovery environment into account when performing a true DR.
As most of you know, most backup metrics are based on just one variable: backup ingest performance. However, this is only one small piece of the overall puzzle. Recovery and replication are the much more important ones. It's great to backup data really fast, but if it takes three times as long to recover it, well, try to explain that to your CIO when a major application goes out and he is standing over your shoulder waiting for the data to be recovered.
One other key metric FalconStor tracked was the Total Time to Protect Data, which includes:
- Backing up the data
- Deduplicating the data, and
- Replicating the data to the remote DR site
The configuration FalconStor choose to use was standard
Dell Servers with standard Storage (SATA Drives) in a Fibre Channel (FC)
environment. Using the latest FalconStor VTL software in combination with the
OST API from Symantec, it garnered some very good results which are detailed
The test bed consisted of:
- 100 TBs of production data
- Single cluster of two FalconSotr VTL nodes
- Four deduplication nodes
- Backup and deduplication processes were run concurrently
Above and beyond the standard configuration of this test, there are more options that exist that not only enhance these performance metrics but also provide more all-inclusive protection of your data, some of which include:
- High speed tape duplication. This leverages the NDMP and OST protocols integration to initiate high performance tape exports to physical tape library directly from the VTL while maintaining full catalog consistency of the backup catalog.
- Host Backup Software on the VTL. This provides the ability to install 3rd party backup software directly onto the FalconStor VTL system so organizations can ,move backup traffic off the SAN and onto the VTL's server bus to increase backup performance
- Backup Catalog Replication. Using Falconstor's NSS functionality, which is built directly into all the FalconStor software packages, a customer can maintain the ability to replicate the backup catalog itself and then in turn recover it at the DR site. Organizations can then recover all components of the backup and recovery environment with minimal effort.
- Platform Flexibility. FalconStor VTL software is available as a custom-built appliance, your own servers, or even thru a virtual machine. This offers numerous options when working with any size location or backup data-set.
This set of performance numbers from FalconStor is based a more relevant, real-world scenario than many I have seen. These help to ensure that when you decide to deploy a VTL solution, there are some actual benchmarks that are both meaningful and achievable. FalconStor offers a number of flexible options for its VTL so it can be architected to meet the needs of your environment as opposed to requiring a complete re-architecture of your backup environment. Yet what was missing until now - and what these performance numbers now provide - is a great starting point for customers from which to work regardless of which FalconStor VTL configuration they select so they can understand the real impact a FalconStor VTL will have on their environment.