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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 backup-
to-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 single-
purpose 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
http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/power/ps2q07-20070205-Kadam-OE.pdf

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.
• 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.