UPDATED 12:25 EST / JUNE 10 2014

Data protection in the era of unstructured information | #EMCWorld

data protection envelope securedA lot has changed at Brown since Nancy Magers, the university’s associate director of storage and disaster recovery, last appeared on  theCUBE in April. The Ivy League school is now finally starting to see the first fruits of its years-long data center modernization effort while new priorities are making their way onto the agenda as user trends on campus reshape infrastructure requirements, she detailed in her latest interview with SiliconANGLE during the recently concluded EMC World 2014 summit in Las Vegas.

Brown’s IT organization is currently focusing on two main projects, according to Magers:  implementing a virtual desktop environment to deliver a more flexible experience for students and faculty and taming the vast volumes of unstructured data being generated across the university’s various departments. The primary goal of the latter initiative is to move all that information into a centralized hub where it can be more effectively managed and made available for applications,  she tells hosts Dave Vellante and Jeff Frick.

Magers’ team has a solid base to work from in pursuing these ambitious goals. A full 70 percent of Brown’s servers are already virtualized while the remainder run logical partitions under IBM’s Unix-based AIX operating system, a ratio that she says is set to further grow in favor of the former as the school moves to migrate its vital Oracle implementation to x86 hardware.

The deployment, like the rest of the school’s infrastructure, is wrapped in several layers of data protection. The most sensitive information is copied in real-time to a set of EMC Symmetrix arrays using the storage stalwart’s SRDF replication software, while lower-priority SQL instances are copied to a VNX backend leveraging the complementary RecoverPoint tool.

Brown’s virtual environment, meanwhile, is backed up to a DataDomain appliance with VMware VADP and EMC NetWorker suite. Magers says that the data protection toolkit is also employed to perform nightly dumps for extra protection against outages.

The addition of DataDomain to her team’s backup arsenal has had a tremendously positive impact on operations, she elaborates. Instead of having to copy data onto a local drive and ship that device off to a remote catalog, the university’s database admirations can now leverage  the platform to access images directly from any system.

“It was really cumbersome because they [the DBAs] had to go through a two-step process if they ever needed to go and recover data that was older than a couple days. And they didn’t have the visibility into the catalog to do that,” Magers reflects. “When we moved them onto DataDomain they were able to keep their entire backup catalog within RMAN [EMC’s Recovery Manager backup client for Oracle] and not have to go to another product to access that.”

Going forward, Magers says that she and her team will be focusing on rolling out the one-petabyte Isilon network-attached storage (NAS) environment intended to accommodate Brown’s vast troves unstructured data. The project is currently in its first phase.

photo credit: Cea. via photopin cc

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