Companies all want more reliable backup and recovery, with short recovery times when things go awry. In part II of this interview series with StorageCraft’s Chief Evangelist Matt Urmston, we expand on how StorageCraft uses StorageCraft ImageManager and StorageCraft Headstart Restore technology to provide a full DR solution that can offer recovery in as little as five minutes, and also how ShadowProtect performs equally well in physical and virtual environments.
Charley: You can access ImageManager from anywhere?
Matt: Correct. And that anywhere access to ImageManager was a rudimentary DR solution. StorageCraft included in ImageManager some replication technology based around FTP. Basically, StorageCraft told its customers at that time, that they could take that data and move it wherever they wished. In a lot of cases StorageCraft’s partners were taking customer data and moving that either to a colocation facility, or to storage in their own offices.
StorageCraft found it was continually being asked: “What’s the best practice, what’s the best way to do this, what should I do once I have the data at the remote site, is there a way that I can now run those images at my remote site for that customer?” So StorageCraft introduced some new technologies as it grew into that DR phase of development.
One of those DR technologies is VirtualBoot, which provides really rapid recovery. Take any recovery point, simply right click on it, and then select an option to VirtualBoot. It will spin that image up as a virtual machine, often in less than five minutes.
StorageCraft also introduced a technology called Headstart Restore that is designed for much larger data sets. As StorageCraft grew as a company and grew into some larger environments, it was finding that a traditional restore just wasn’t fast enough to meet business requirements. As the data volumes grew beyond the TB size, it could take hours to do a recovery because of disk speed limitations.
StorageCraft wanted to provide a way for its customers to stage recoveries, so it introduced Headstart Restore. In a nutshell, Headstart Restore takes a base backup image and converts it to a virtual disk—VMDK or VHD—and then drip feeds incremental backups to that virtual disk. In the event that a production server crashes, now there is a virtual disk already in place sitting over on an ESX host or on a Hyper-V host. When recovery is needed, Headstart Restore can quickly finalize the process and get that system up and running as a virtual instance without forcing the customer to restore data back to some physical device.
It’s really all about recovery time objectives. StorageCraft finds that many managed service providers (MSPs) are competing on their service level agreements (SLAs). StorageCraft technology allows MSPs to get very aggressive with those SLAs, and talk about recovery time objectives in terms of minutes as opposed to hours or days.
Charley: Are you focused on SMB or enterprise?
Matt: StorageCraft is almost exclusively focused on SMB. It also sells almost exclusively through the channel, its network of value-added resellers and managed service providers. StorageCraft also works with some distributors who have some direct to market customers that they work with. But yes, StorageCraft is focused on SMB. Later on, StorageCraft will look at products and services that might appeal to larger companies.
Charley: Physical and virtual backup. StorageCraft addresses both?
Matt: Absolutely. The StorageCraft backup agent, ShadowProtect, is run in both physical and virtual environments. The agent that runs on an endpoint does not know the difference between a physical machine and a virtual machine. Once ShadowProtect creates an image, the file format is exactly the same whether the source server is a physical box or virtual server. That is really what allows ShadowProtect to take those backups and then restore to wherever the customer prefers.
At the hypervisor level, if a customer has a VMware environment and wants to migrate to a Hyper-V environment, they can migrate by taking backup images of guest machines that are in an ESX environment and then performing a restore of those images to a Hyper-V host. With ShadowProtect, migrating is that simple.
In Part I of DCIG’s executive interview with StorageCraft’s Chief Evangelist, Matt Urmston, he explained the features that ShadowProtect offers to minimize or even eliminate the possibility of users encountering BSODs when conducting a recovery.
In Part III of this interview series, we discuss what the competitive landscape looks like for StorageCraft and why its customers choose StorageCraft over other solutions.