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N2WS Backup & Recovery adds power switch for AWS instances

If you don't like AWS Instance Scheduler, N2WS says its Backup & Recovery Resource Control console has a better way of turning AWS resources on and off to save money.

The latest version of N2WS adds an on/off switch for AWS instances.

N2WS Backup & Recovery v2.5 -- formerly Cloud Protection Manager -- which provides cloud-native backup and disaster recovery for AWS data, features a new Resource Control interface. From there, users can view running Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Relational Database Service (RDS) resources. Users can also stop or hibernate them through the console, or schedule when they turn off and on. The feature helps customers manage cloud compute resources and potentially reduce waste due to idle instances.

Not all customers need all of their environments to run 24/7. However, the AWS tool used for starting and stopping EC2 and RDS instances, AWS Instance Scheduler, has drawbacks, said Ezra Charm, vice president of marketing at N2WS, based in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"What we found when talking to our customers was that the [AWS Instance] Scheduler is not ideal," Charm said. N2WS customers found it inconvenient, forcing staff to come in early and stay late to run AWS Instance Scheduler to spin instances up or down.

"Resource Control is more like a light switch," Charm said, regarding the feature's ease of use.

Where Resource Control works best

The Resource Control function added in N2WS Backup & Recovery v2.5 could supposedly save as much as 60% per month in compute resources, according to the vendor. However, those savings vary greatly depending on how an organization uses its resources, said Naveen Chhabra, senior analyst at market research company Forrester.

Screenshot of Resource Control main console
Resource Control was added in N2WS Backup & Recovery v2.5 to act as a 'light switch' for EC2 and RDS instances.

Chhabra added that customers should be careful when using the new feature.

He said N2WS Backup & Recovery customers need to be familiar with their environments and their availability requirements, and they certainly shouldn't apply the new feature to all use cases.

"There are certain circumstances where you would use these capabilities, but they will not apply to every use case," Chhabra said. "For example, with the switch on-and-off capability, you have to apply it to only your dev/test environments."

Environments and groups of environments must be tagged well and have well-defined, robust policies in order for a customer to reap the most benefits from Resource Control, Chhabra said. He also warned that customers would have to stay on top of their policy management game as environments shift, change and grow, or risk accidentally applying the wrong on/off schedule to the wrong instance.

"As the customers look to use it effectively on an ongoing basis, the policy management has to be continuously updated," Chhabra said. "They shouldn't expect one policy to be defined once and then forgotten. That will not result in benefits -- that might even be counterproductive."

Chhabra noted that N2WS Backup & Recovery doesn't add any features that AWS doesn't already have. N2WS' differentiator is how it makes using all these features easier for the customer.

Screenshot of scheduler in Resource Control
In N2WS Backup & Recovery v2.5, users can schedule when AWS instances turn on or off.

What else and what's to come

What we found when talking to our customers was that the [AWS Instance] Scheduler is not ideal. Resource Control is more like a light switch.
Ezra Charmvice president of marketing, N2WS

Sebastian Straub, systems engineer at N2WS, said a customer can basically achieve the same functionality as Resource Control through AWS Lambda scripting.

"You can achieve this 'manually' through Lambda scripting," Straub said. "But scripts don't scale. So, if you're adding more instances, your script wouldn't know about it."

Charm said N2WS is about bringing customers' most requested AWS offerings onto the product's single pane of glass and adding value through convenience, as was the case with the on/off switch. He said, based on customer feedback, future updates to N2WS Backup & Recovery will likely include backup for Amazon Elastic File System and protection for Lambda scripts.

The update to v2.5 also added support for more AWS regions and enhanced deduplication and compression for customers using the N2WS Amazon S3 repository for backup snapshots.

Veeam Software acquired N2WS in late 2017 for $42.5 million. Veeam operates N2WS as a separate business, but also uses its technology in Veeam Availability for AWS.

There is no integration with Veeam in the current N2WS upgrade, but Charm indicated that will happen soon.

"The most exciting stuff is still in front of us," he said.

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How much compute cost would you save if you shut down your unused Amazon EC2 and RDS instances every night?
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