Backing up data with the NX1950 and other Dell NAS storage

The adoption of iSCSI storage and Dell’s NX1950 in the market place has turned networked storage into something every organization can affordably enjoy. The benefit of centralized storage is something no longer solely in the reach of enterprise level customers. With more and more organizations adopting NAS such as Dell’s NX1950 and consolidating storage, a common question comes up, “How do I backup my storage and servers now?” Fortunately, implementing a backup solution for the Dell NAS platforms and NX1950 can be done so with relative ease resulting in increased backup performance and reliability while reducing costs and administration. Here’s how. NOTE: This document primarily describes data protection with the Dell NX1950. However, the same concepts and methodologies will work for other Dell NAS products (e.g. Powervault 775, Windows Storage Server) unless specific NX1950 technology (e.g. iSCSI) is referenced.
Figure 1: Traditional Backup Architecture

To better understand the benefits of using the NX1950 as either a target for backupto-disk, as storage for production data or both, let’s first address “traditional” backup architectures. Common practice in most small business environments is to have a backup server that would have a tape device directly attached (also known as locally attached). That backup server would also run or “host” the backup software, manage the backup jobs and ensure backup data is written to the tape device. Backup “agents” are usually installed on other servers connected to the network in order to back them up. The backup server protects data on these servers by moving it across the network to the tape device attached to the backup server. The problem with this architecture is that data flow from the agent servers and client PCs to the backup server can cause performance bottlenecks at a number of locations: the LAN (blue pipe), the backup server network cards, and/or the tape device. This document will provide a general overview about how use of the Dell NX1950, some common best practices, and Yosemite Backup to avoid performance issues and provide reliable, consistent and cost-effective data protection. Here’s how: Common Best Practices

There are a number of best practices that can be implemented to provide better backup performance and efficiency. Many are dependent upon your environment and overall data protection goals. In this document, we’ll list a couple of the most common employed. For more information, consult with your Dell Technical Service rep or contact a Yosemite Sales rep. Multiple NICs / Dedicated Backup LAN: One way to avoid performance bottlenecks is to isolate the flow of backup data from production data. To do this, add a dedicated network interface card (NIC) in each server and a dedicated Ethernet switch to your LAN and then configure it so backup data flows only through this NICs and this network. As the arrows in Figure 2 demonstrate, this architecture will allow the data to flow freely without impact to “production” data on the primary LAN.
Figure 2: Dedicated Backup Network

Backup to Disk: The next step to improve backup performance usually involves implementing a backup to disk strategy. This option is becoming increasingly popular because disk performance is usually better than that of tape during backups, and especially during restores. The random access architecture of disk greatly enhances data seek times allowing data to be retrieved much faster.
Figure 3: Backup to disk

Yosemite Technologies offers a unique, low cost and exciting way to handle backing up to disk. Yosemite Backup can turn any available disk storage into a Virtual Tape Library (VTL). Virtual tape libraries are potentially one of the most comprehensive and flexible applications of disk-based backup available because they can combine the advantages of disk technology with traditional tape policies, the flexibility of multiple media targets, and integration and utilization of existing backup infrastructures. However, many third-party backup-to-disk (B2D) solutions are only available on proprietary and costly server platforms which isolate the VTL from the backup application, effectively limiting the potential benefits and gains from VTL technology. The penultimate solution is a VTL embedded in the backup application and independent of proprietary storage architectures. Benefits from this include: 1) Ability to use general purpose disk instead of proprietary VTL disk. 2) An integrated and uniform backup catalogue tracking backup data locations regardless of storage media used 3) Utilization of existing disk capacity across heterogeneous systems The embedded VTL included with Yosemite Backup provides the best benefits of both disk and tape media allowing the performance advantages of B2D and use of existing unused server storage without requiring heavy investment in proprietary singlepurpose VTL systems. Dell NX1950: The flexibility of Dell NAS solutions such as the NX1950 and Yosemite Backup’s VTL allow customers to take B2D to the next level. As environments grow, simply creating a dedicated backup network and adding backup to disk are usually not enough. Often times, the backup server itself can become the bottleneck as it attempts to launch and manage backup jobs while also managing B2D and tape devices. To address this issue, the best thing to do is to install a dedicated server to manage the B2D and tape devices.

Combining Dell’s NX1950 platform and Yosemite Backup’s modular architecture and ability to run natively on any combination of Windows, Linux, or Netware allows customers to seamlessly deploy this solution and eliminate the backup server bottleneck. The NX1950 platform allows the customer easily connect to the network and increase the B2D capacity. When combined with Yosemite Backup’s modular architecture, the NX1950 can be used as a “media” server for storing backup data to disk and/or other storage devices. Other Advantages of using Dell and Yosemite Backup Replication of your data for disaster recovery: Use the NX1950s native replication software to replicate the VTL for offsite disaster recovery, or use it for consolidating your backup operations. Some organizations may elect to backup remote offices to the VTL and then replicate that VTL to a central datacenter (Figure 4). Once in the central datacenter, data can be backed up to tape or other media for archival purposes and offsite data vaulting. This strategy can save costs in hardware and training as it would no longer be necessary to purchase tape drives for each remote office.
Figure 4: Replication to Central Datacenter

Yosemite Backup’s Disk-to-Disk-to-Any (D2D2Ne™) option: D2D2Ne allows for true management of data through a hierarchy of storage devices (Figure 5). With D2D2Ne, a backup is performed from the source disk to a target disk (configured as a VTL running internally on the backup server or on a dedicated NX1950 running as a Yosemite Backup Media server). D2D2Ne then manages the movement of the data from the secondary disk to tertiary storage (magnetic disk, tape, RD1000, or optical disc) using predefined criteria, such as the VTL reaching a capacity limit or an established time schedule. D2D2Ne provides the flexibility to create multiple storage hierarchies that can consist of other VTLs and other mass storage devices. Using D2D2Ne, data can seamlessly and automatically be moved to other storage devices and from there to tape for off-site archiving.

Figure 5: Yosemite Backup’s D2D2Ne

Dell 2950 + NX1950: A slightly different approach could be taken by using a dedicated backup server that acts as the Master and the Media server. By using, for example, a Poweredge 2950 that has a storage volume from the NX1950, you could install the VTL on the 2950. That VTL could then use the space allocated from the NX1950. To backup the NX1950 itself, a remote agent would be installed on it. The potential drawback to this solution is that when you are backing up the NX1950, you are moving more data across the LAN. Backups from the NX1950 would happen via the remote agent across the LAN, to the VTL. That VTL uses space via the NX, and that data would then again be moved across the LAN. The same goes for any other server that would have remote agents installed on them and storage space allocated via iSCSI. To minimize the amount of data travel, we would recommend deploying the VTL directly on the NX1950.
Figure 6: Data path using the Dell 2950 as a Master/Media server with VTL using mapped drive from NX1950.

Figure 7: Showing data path when using the NX1950 as a Master/Media server

Utilizing Advanced NX1950 Functionality: The NX1950 integrated unit couples the MD3000 together for a versatile and powerful storage platform. The MD3000 has optional software that allows administrators to do volume snapshots and volume copies. More info on the MD3000 can be found at the following link Volume copies can be used for such tasks as moving the VTL to larger volume of volume space or copying the VTL for archival on disk. It may be possible to clone volumes of data and proceed to backup the clone only. This has the potential for shaving time off backup jobs, as well as backing up production data at any point in the day without impacting production servers. Summary Consolidating storage space and improving data backups with the NX1950 • Use of common best practices such as segmented backup LANs and additional NICs improve performance by avoiding network traffic congestion during backups Using a backup server running Yosemite Backup as the master & media server provides backup architecture flexibility including using the NX1950 connected via iSCSI as a backup-to-disk target. Using the NX1950 as a VTL host provides the benefits of consolidated storage, improved backup performance through backup-to-disk and improves efficiency of data movement Using the NX1950’s native replication software to replicate VTLs enables organizations to cost-effectively implement strategies for DR and consolidated backup.

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Use of the NX1950 as a VTL eliminates the need to manage isolated storage pools for backup-to-disk targets. The NX1950 allows customers to consolidate all the storage space on 1 easy to manage platform reducing management costs. Employing Dell servers and NAS and Yosemite Backup enables customers to efficiently and easily protect critical data today and on into the future.

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