Backup has rapidly moved up the list of priorities for IT leaders in an uncertain time of cyberattacks. According to TechTarget’s 2022 IT priorities survey, almost a quarter of people surveyed are intending to deploy backup hardware or software in 2022. So, in a world where backup and recovery are key to staying online, why is the monitoring and management of backups still a largely manual and time-consuming process?
CTO, ProtectView & Assured Data Protection
Initially developed to remove the labour-intensive process of backup management, ProtectView has developed into an intuitive SaaS and on-prem platform for organisations to manage their Rubrik estate, support real-time data protection, data backup and disaster recovery. We spoke to our CTO and primary developer of ProtectView, Stew Parkin in a Q&A session about the platform that enables our customers the visibility they need to protect their most valuable asset – their data.
Stew, in your words, what does ProtectView do?
“ProtectView provides objective and aggregated operational reporting of Rubrik estates of any size. So, whether you have a single Rubrik node cluster, or whether you have hundreds of clusters of varying sizes, ProtectView takes all of the information directly from Rubrik and converts it into a single actionable data report. That really is the objective of ProtectView. Its biggest value add is what it provides over and above what you can do directly with Rubrik, either with CDM, or Polaris.”
“What we developed initially was a tool that we needed internally to provide a managed service and what we have ended up with is a tool that can help other managed service providers (MSPs) and other large Rubrik enterprises, because the similarities between an MSP and an enterprise are ever-increasing and becoming ever symmetrical, or parallel.”
Why would someone choose ProtectView to manage their Rubrik estate compared to managing it themselves?
“Speed of implementation and speed of delivery. Speed of up-skill is very important in this day and age. So whilst Rubrik is incredibly simple and intuitive, it’s not enough to have a simple tool integrated into an enterprise environment because you have to take all of the workings of that tool and slot them into how that organisation operationally functions.”
“What we tend to find, and the most important thing to enterprises, is being able to audit exactly what happened, when it happened, and how it was remediated. By using the automated ticketing integrations from ProtectView, we can monitor that process from backup failure to backup resolution through the customer’s chosen ITSM platform, so that if an error comes through it can automatically be raised into a ServiceNow, or a JIRA or Cherwell incident, so it can be actionable and most importantly, audited.”
“The cutting edge is the operational values that come out of ProtectView. We’ve done an awful lot of data remodeling and data shaping to produce a daily report that shows all of the actionable items across your cluster and across your Rubrik estate, without the noise of hundreds of emails to alert you to a SQL database failure that has 100 databases on it, when actually the fix is relatively simple.”
“To restart an agent running on the SQL Server, (if you’re running log backups, for example), we’ve taken those hundreds or thousands of alerts and consolidated that into a single line, which gives you an actual item if you need to restart this agent. This cuts out the white noise that we tend to have now within the IT industry with emails after emails and Outlook rules that forward these emails into folders that never get read. Being able to consolidate that down into a single actionable email at your level is what is needed. Going into the role-based access control features within Rubrik, the CIO can have a complete overview, or CTO can need to focus on and action.”
“Having that level of granular reporting gives them an immediate operational footprint that they can use without having to go through the processes of learning how Rubrik reports, what Rubrik reporting means, then integrating that data into ServiceNow, ITSM or into their Splunk data lake environment to then action what those errors mean, as they come out of Rubrik.”
“That’s the real value of ProtectView – it takes all that data and converts it into information.”
How does ProtectView assist when moving to the cloud?
“ProtectView gives you visibility of the cloud and visibility of your data protection within the cloud. Whether you’re using Rubrik to backup that data in the cloud through Polaris SAS based apps with managed disks with EBS, snapshotting with RDS backups of SQL in your AWS, or you’re using the native tooling from the cloud service providers (CSPs), ProtectView can monitor and report on your backups either on-prem or in the cloud.”
“ProtectView helps with moving to the cloud by giving visibility of your data protection throughout the migration. As you move a server from on-prem to off-prem, you can get the last backup with a Rubrik on-prem, from one day but your first backup off-prem needs to really be a day or two later (depending on the migration time), otherwise, you have a gap in protection which today, and depending on the application, is often unacceptable to most organisations. Five years ago, it would’ve been a different story, you could have had backups not run for three, four weeks, in some instances. But now, everybody needs everything yesterday, and consider zero downtime or zero data loss, because data is everything. ProtectView gives you the confidence that whether your data is on-prem or off-prem, there is protection, or the date your data is secure with the tooling that you have decided to deploy.”
What is your favourite ProtectView feature?
“The first one for me is that it’s very configurable and can be tailored as needed for each individual business. That’s incredibly powerful because every organisation has different functionalities, requirements or add-ons that they want to put into ProtectView, so that’s key.”
“One of the best features though, without doubt, is the daily report. I lived in a world where you had to use emails and Rubrik reporting, to work out what exactly was going on within an exceptionally large Rubrik system which was a challenge. One of the biggest achievements we’ve had with ProtectView was being able to take 12,500 backup jobs that run daily, or sometimes on a 10-minute basis and merge that into a single actionable and exact report, going from a manually created Excel spreadsheet to a fully automated CSV that can be sent and distributed around the world, to different departments, within organisations and within IT teams. It still blows my mind today!”
What does the future look like for ProtectView?
“It’s about taking it to the next level. A lot of companies are moving to the cloud. That’s great but moving to the cloud brings lots of challenges and one of those challenges is being able to understand what’s happening with your backups. We can integrate into a variety of platforms, whether that’s Azure, Google or AWS, but to enable a business a view of what’s happening on-prem versus what’s happening in the cloud in single pane of glass – That’s a massive step. This is going to be available very soon and part of it is available as we speak today.
It’s also adding in other modular services. A lot of businesses use particular functionality within storage like snapshots and replication for very quick and real time backups. But to have the visibility of that in one platform, across all your estate is where it’s going today. I’m extremely excited about the future and how it will play a part in our business going forward.”
Also, as Rubrik develops its own reporting capabilities, PotectView will enhance. Because we ‘piggyback’ directly off the back of Rubrik’s APIs, and as they develop and flourish, we can integrate more information and more data into ProtectView, which is exactly what the relationship has always been about with ourselves and Rubrik. ProtectView then becomes an aggregated reporting and monitoring tool for all your data protection, without you having to log into 27 different backup products or storage vendors and without having to worry about data protection or recoverability.
A decisive point is in that a lot of the future development of ProtectView will come from our customers to further enhance their experience every step of the way.”