Live from Virtual HPE Discover: Cloud Volumes Backup

Today, HPE introduced Cloud Volumes Backup (CVB) at the HPE Discover virtual event (courtesy of our new annoying neighbor a.k.a. COVID-19).

Cloud Volumes Backup in a Nutshell

Cloud Volumes Backup is a data protection solution engineered by HPE and delivered as a cloud service. It incorporates cloud concepts such as elastic scaling and pay-as-you-go, while reducing the complexity inherent to operating an on-premises data protection infrastructure.

HPE’s premise is about providing a seamless backup to cloud experience without having to go through the hassle of manual configuration.

As depicted below, there are two ways of consuming CVB. One is to use it as a plug-and-play service that extends existing backup software capabilities, the other one is to use it as a built-in service with HPE Recovery Manager Central.

Figure 1 – Cloud Volumes Backup integration options

Backup and Recovery Capabilities

HPE vision is that of a hybrid cloud, where customer can store their data and restore it where it makes best sense. Major cloud providers are supported (AWS, Azure, GCP), and customers can recover their data either directly to the cloud (via HPCE Cloud Volumes Block) or recover back on-premises.

Similarly, customers can either back up directly to the cloud, or back up on-premises (for example on HPE StoreOnce systems) and then push data for offsite storage and/or long term retention in the cloud.

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Figure 2 – Hybrid Cloud Backup Capabilities

Transfer Efficiency

An absolute must when it comes to cloud backup is to optimize ingress and egress data transfer rates by implementing deduplication and compression. Another imperative is to send or retrieve only the data required. HPE implements those prerequisites in Cloud Volumes Backup and claims up to 95% reduction in bandwidth use and data transfer costs.

An often-overlooked unpleasant surprise of cloud backup is egress transfer charges. In other words, transferring data to the cloud is free, but getting data out often has a hidden (or unknown) cost. This is particularly true when doing DIY cloud backup. HPE’s cloud backup service comes with no egress charges, meaning that pricing should be hopefully straightforward.

Pricing

Talking about pricing, no particular information was communicated at the time of publishing, but this pay-as-you-go model promises savings compared to traditional on-premises backup infrastructure, where capacity is purchased upfront and often as CAPEX.

Needless to say, organizations will need to be vigilant about backup policies to avoid sudden consumption bursts due to mistakes, since cloud expenditure can be treacherous in such cases.

Key Features

Our understanding is that when used with other backup tools, Cloud Backup Volumes acts as a cloud backup target and backed up data uses the native format of the backup vendor. HPE announced support for Veeam, Commvault, Veritas and Micro Focus.

When used with HPE RMC (Recovery Manager Central), CVB benefits from application-consistent snapshots, policy-driven automation, all without any performance impact on application servers.

TECHunplugged is inclined to think that at least Veeam and Commvault would be providing the same level of features than RMC, which makes the choice of RMC really relevant for shops that either do not use Veeam / Commvault, or who are all in on HPE products.

Security

Data protection doesn’t end once data is sent to the cloud. It actually starts when data is transferred and needs to be protected not only from malicious access, but also from infrastructure failures.

HPE apparently thought long on this, as data is encrypted in-flight and at rest. In addition to that, HPE claims that secure multi-tenancy is implemented with isolations leveraging 256-bit AES encryption. The infrastructure is rated at 6-nines availability (99.9999%), which equates to 31.56 seconds of downtime per year.

Closing on the topic of security, HPE claims that those backups are invisible to ransomware attacks. While not denying the plausibility of this claim, we hope to see more information emerge about this.

TECHunplugged’s Opinion

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Cloud Backup Volumes is its openness. Organizations want efficient infrastructures where they get the best value out of their investments, but they don’t necessarily want to be pushed into a closed ecosystem.

Cloud Backup Volumes adheres to HPE’s strategic vision of delivering all of their products / technologies as a service by 2022. It also offers customers a gradual path to embrace the HPE ecosystem, while deciding for themselves which parts make sense or not, and most importantly, preserve their investments in data protection.

As a side note, the support of Veeam and Commvault is a great thing, because those are two leading data protection companies with their own extended feature set, so this is a nice collaborative way to bring improvements to organizations, especially in terms of cloud backup storage.

Note that this post might be updated to clarify imprecisions or misinterpretations.