Data Protection

Posted 2011-11-04 Print this article Print

While my testing didn't simulate disaster recovery in the test environment, F5 did point out a couple of interesting items regarding data protection. The first was with backup. F5 says that the storage tiering and capacity-balancing policies can actually help their customers reduce the amount of time required to perform a full backup of their data. For example, a "last modified" tiering policy essentially separates changing and unchanging data among different physical file systems. You could back up these different physical file systems at different intervals-changing data on a weekly basis and unchanging data less often. And if you have multiple physical file systems (such as in the capacity-balancing test), you can back up each of the physical file systems in much less time than it would take for the virtual file system.

The second item was what F5 calls "virtual snapshots." Many enterprise IT organizations have come to depend on the snapshot capabilities of their NAS systems for disk-based backup and recovery. But what happens when you virtualize those NAS systems? F5 took me through the ARX virtual snapshot capability, which essentially does the same thing for snapshots that the namespace does for file systems. To test the virtual snapshots, we added to the setup left over from the capacity-balancing test with a third file system from a Windows file server.

We then created a snapshot rule on the ARX for the virtual volume. The snapshot rule is what tells the underlying storage devices-in this case the NetApp, EMC and Windows devices-to take physical snapshots of these file systems at a specific schedule. After the first snapshot was performed, we went to the snapshot directory and verified that we could see all of our files in the same directory, despite the fact that they are on different physical file systems and, hence, different physical snapshot images on three devices.


While the F5 ARX series proves to be a significant investment, the truth is that an ARX device reinvents the organization's relationship with storage. In other words, the new storage paradigm offered by ARX reduces management overhead, increases flexibility and brings ease to building storage pools that can be dynamically reshaped, instantly, to meet the elastic needs of any organization. What's more, ARX leverages existing storage solutions, which may preempt the need to buy more storage. Another notable fact about ARX is that it does not "get in the way" of performance. The device's ability to handle all the processing at line speed means that network performance is not affected.









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