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Dell EMC tunes PowerProtect for data protection at scale

Dell EMC updated PowerProtect with faster snapshots, new software to manage multiple appliances and a managed service for recovery to help scale data protection functions.

Dell EMC wants to help tackle the problem of bigger data set, bigger ransomware attack surface.

This week, Dell EMC released a series of updates to its PowerProtect data protection platform to help customers scale their data protection operations to match their environments. The three new offerings provide a faster way to take VMware snapshots and include new software to manage multiple data protection appliances as well as a managed service for Cyber Recovery Vault.

Dell EMC PowerProtect now has a new Transparent Snapshots feature. Instead of using VMware APIs and standing up a proxy virtual machine (VM) to take snapshots, Transparent Snapshots uses a plugin installed on the VMware ESX server hosting the VMs customers want to protect. The plugin handles moving data between source and target and takes up 700 MB, whereas a VM proxy takes up 8 GB. Dell EMC claims this translates to five times faster backups.

Dell EMC also rolled out Smart Scale into preview, with expected availability in early 2022. Smart Scale enables customers to pool up to 32 PowerProtect backup appliances into a single namespace, which adds up to potentially 48 PB of useable capacity and three exabytes of logical capacity. Being able to survey large data sets in one object allows customers to more easily view and manage their data protection environment, and the feature provides recommendations on workload placement to optimize storage.

Dell EMC now also offers managed services for subscribers to its Cyber Recovery isolated recovery product. Customers can tap Dell personnel to handle the daily management of the Cyber Recovery Vault, an isolated environment used to maintain a safe backup copy to recover from. Additionally, Dell experts can assist customers during recovery activities.

According to the recently published Dell Technologies 2021 Global Data Protection Index, 82% of customers said their current data protection products won't be enough to handle future business challenges, said Rob Emsley, director of product marketing for data protection at Dell Technologies. Continued data growth -- and an inability to scale data protection alongside it -- is one of the drivers of that figure, but the 1,000 IT decision-makers who participated in the study also cited emerging technologies such as Kubernetes and artificial intelligence as well as more staff working from home as reasons they don't believe they are ready to recover from a large-scale data loss event.

Screenshot of Dell EMC PowerProtect Data Manager
Transparent Snapshots can be accessed in the PowerProtect Data Manager UI.

"Work from home has changed their defense posture," Emsley said. "What they have now won't be enough to protect them against ransomware in the future."

The survey, which was conducted by independent market research firm Vanson Bourne between February and April 2021, also found 62% of respondents felt their current data protection is insufficient to deal with cyberthreats and 67% of respondents weren't confident they could recover all their business-critical data after a ransomware attack.

I think traditional disaster recovery and backup and recovery are dead. The bar has been raised, possibly forever.
Christophe BertrandSenior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Addressing the fundamentals

What's most interesting about Dell EMC's new PowerProtect features and recovery services is that instead of new ways of preventing ransomware attacks or safeguarding data, they focus on something more foundational, said Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget. If customers can't deploy data protection at the scale of their infrastructure, the technology doesn't matter. Dell identified this as a pain point and targeted it with this release, Bertrand said.

Scalability and visibility are just as important to a successful recovery as the actual data protection and recovery tools themselves, Bertrand said. Customers need ways to know their own environments first before they can effectively use what they have.

"About one in five customers we talk to don't even know how much data they have," Bertrand said.

Data growth and the increased frequency of ransomware attacks have increased the threshold for achieving data resilience, Bertrand said. Multiple IT disciplines need to come together to ensure customers' environments are ready to recover from any data loss incident, whether accidental or malicious. In the future, traditional recovery is going to evolve into something that likely pulls together infrastructure, security, backup and incident response teams, Bertrand said.

"I think traditional disaster recovery and backup and recovery are dead. The bar has been raised, possibly forever," Bertrand said.

Johnny Yu covers enterprise data protection news for TechTarget's Storage sites SearchDataBackup and SearchDisasterRecovery. Before joining TechTarget in June 2018, he wrote for USA Today's consumer product review site Reviewed.com.

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