Saving servers from death : The virtues + vices of virtualization | #EMCworld

Craig Wuerzberger - EMC World 2014 - theCUBEAccording to theCUBE host Dave Vellante, EMC World this year has attracted a big crowd of over 12,000 people. He was co-hosting together with Steve Kennistonn for the annual show in Las Vegas, welcoming Craig Wuerzberger, a Systems Engineer at Sub-Zero.

“Tell us a bit about Sub-Zero, what your role is there?” asked Vellante.

“Well, Sub-Zero is obviously a manufacturer of a very high-end of both cooking and refrigeration appliances. Been around since the 1940’s and we actually brought in the Wolf appliance and the cooking line the year 2000. My role there is a Systems Engineer. So, I am basically in charge of everything involving server, storage, backup, data protection. Been there for 14 years now. So, I have got my feel pretty wet in that area,” replied Wuerzberger.

Asked to describe the revolution of Sub-Zero’s IT environment, this was his take:

“It’s actually pretty large. Originally the size of the entire IT department was about eight people. We now have a staff of about 40. I think we are at about 45 now — that includes not only the systems and network people, but also our application development and our IBM-i area,” responded Wuerzberger.

“What are the big systems or applications that you are running?” continued Vellante.

“We are a Microsoft shops so we run a lot of SQL, we run Microsoft Exchange… we do our ERP system is a Systems i or an IBM-i. So, we are running that Infor XA to do our ERP and our item inventory,” Wuerzberger said.

“About five years ago we were running just a Symantec netbackup environment running on an SL-500 tape library 150 tape capacity,” Wuerzberger went on.

“In fact, at that time however, with the increasing storage and the increasing things that we had added to the systems over the years, it suddenly went from adequate to completely inadequate in a matter of a few years probably. So, we ended up getting into a situation where our backup system was not able to handle what our current load was as far as data protection and we had to come up with a solution to find a way to fix it,” obliged Wuerzberger when asked to talk about how the Data Protection has evolved.

The virtues + vices of virtualization

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“Talk about virtualization at the time. What was the virtualization strategy, how fast were you virtualizing?” quizzed Vellante.

Craig commented by saying the following; “We implemented virtualization… in 2008, and it went from one or two systems to… 75 percent virtualized in a year-and-a-half. The ROI in our virtualization project we hit it in less than three months. So, it was huge flip. We had a whole bunch of servers that were ready to just die, and we just flip them all over.”

“That rapid pace of virtualization must have put even more stress in your backup environment,” commented Vellante.

“It did. Absolutely it did because now from our point of view we didn’t really have a virtual backup strategy. It was more of a physical turned virtual. We had treated them as if they were physical services,” pondered Wuerzberger.

When asked about the whole process when they brought in Avamar and Data Domain, Wuerzberger said, “We brought in Avamar in March of 2012 and it was probably one of the most successful implementations that we have done probably right up with VMware. The system was brought in-house in February, it was brought up on March and by the end of March we were in full production, full backups and I was already starting to turn down our net backup solution.”

  • Backup pains

“We brought in the Data Domain mainly as a virtual tape library substitution because we were just doing again tapes through our IBM-i, so once I brought in Avamar and removed tape from that environment, my poor system engineer that handled all the IBM-i stuff — all of a sudden he is the one dealing with tapes left and right, he started to get a little cranky. So, we did find out the Data Domain we do the VTLs, we were able to bring that in and eliminate tapes from that as well,” he explained.

Wuerzberger provided more detail on the backup process, saying, “We use the Avamar as our main backup however the virtual tape libraries as well as a number of our Sequel backups go on to the Data domain and then also we have matching grids. Our main facility is in Fitchburg Wisconsin and we also have a facility in Goodyear Arizona and we have matching grids on both sides replicating back and forth.”

The impact on business

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“So, post-Avamar, give us the before and after. Your RTO was a mess. What kind of business results did you see?” queried Vellante.

“Well, the biggest one that we can actually show is that our… CIPS space backup was the one that would never finish. We just couldn’t do it,” Wuerzberger explained. “I went from not being able to finish that at all, to obviously beyond the first backup which takes a while. Once that came through I now see those things backup in a matter of an hour maybe two hours on a bad day. So, I am getting full backups.  With some of the upgrades the Avamar has done with the newer versions of VOS, and the ability to proxy within the virtual environment, I am now seeing my backup window shrink even further. We got it down to under 12 hours, we then shrunk it to eight, and I am down below six. So, that’s an incredible change.”

“We brought in the Data Domain a little bit later mainly because the focus of the Data Domain was for the virtual tape library ability. Then the SQL was a nice little add-on,” Wuerzberger added.

“The one thing that we did push over to the Data Domain is our exchange backups. So, we were trying to do on the Avamar and it worked fine, but we were able to actually decrease the backup window by another hour by moving those backups over to the Data Domain through the DD boost,” said Wuerzberger.

How can EMC help?

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“Anything that you would like to see from EMC to be able to either pull these together or make life simple? What’s missing from the overall picture that would make your life better?” asked Kennistonn.

“You are seeing some of the really cool additional abilities added to the Data Domain that aren’t necessarily added over to the Avamar side. I would like to see some of that come along,” Wuerzberger said.

“I know that one of the new things they are working with the Data Domain is the ability to actually bring up like a virtual backup bring it up online and re-motion it over or re-storage motion it over live,” Wuerzberger went on, sharing more recommendations for EMC.

“It would be really cool if it actually became a single environment with a single paint of glass to look at both and right now they have kind of got there. You have got the single dashboard within Avamar its vast improvement but nice to see that get to mesh a little bit better,” explained Wuerzberger.

He summed up with these remarks to share with his fellow practitioners:

“The best advice I could give them is that you’ve got to know it’s going be a little slow at the beginning — obviously the initial backups take quite a while…it’s not going to be immediate but you are going to see some immediate results that you wouldn’t be able to do with your current systems.”