ESG Validation

ESG Lab Review: Copy Data Management with Veritas Velocity


This ESG Lab Report documents hands-on validation of the Veritas Velocity copy data management solution. Validation was designed to demonstrate how Velocity’s easy deployment and management capabilities and copy data workflow automation enable customers to accelerate and streamline data access.

The Challenges

ESG consistently sees cost(s) appearing as the top challenge for IT managers tasked with implementing data protection processes and technologies (see Figure 1).1 Workload-centric issues seem to be especially problematic for them as well, particularly challenges tied to protecting virtualized environments and remote offices.

However, when looking at the rankings overall, an additional story emerges. Costs and virtualization are the big concerns, but the next four most-cited considerations are operational, not functional in nature. They are challenges related to reliability, worries about compliance or having too many copies, and insufficient preparedness should disaster strike.

The Solution: Veritas Velocity

Veritas Velocity is a hybrid cloud solution that enables database administrators to provide users with controlled self-service access to unlimited virtual copies of production data without impacting production environments. Velocity leverages native application-level APIs and a virtual file system to provide space-efficient application-aware copy data services. Administrators can set up roles that enable users, such as developers and testers, to access specific databases. Then, users can quickly and easily access database copies. This architectural approach simplifies the creation of application-consistent copies and makes object-level restores easy, with no impact to production applications. Veritas Velocity also helps organizations reduce copy data sprawl through streamlined end-to-end management and accelerate application release cycles by reducing the complexity of workflow provisioning. Velocity provides rapid, on-demand, self-service access to copy data for authorized business functions when and where users need it. This self-service capability is ideal for testing and development, data science and analytics, legal and eDiscovery, and business continuity purposes.

Key Veritas Velocity components and features include:

  • Velocity Storage Server is an on-premises virtual or physical appliance hosted in the customer’s data center. The appliance centrally stores and manages all velocity data.
  • Velocity Cloud Console is a multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) portal hosted in the Veritas Cloud. It enables the management of the Velocity Appliance from a private management portal and leverages the self-service capability to manage the copy data that resides on the appliance.
  • Velocity Client is a production server or virtual machine that hosts a database application from which Velocity copies will be made. A Velocity service manages communication between the Velocity Storage Server appliance and the production host as well as the data ingest process.
  • Velocity NetBackup Integration allows NetBackup to handle the ingest of data into the Velocity Appliance. With this schema, Velocity simply becomes an additional target for already configured NetBackup data protection jobs.

ESG Lab Validated

ESG Lab performed remote, hands-on evaluation of the Veritas Velocity copy data management solution by connecting to a Veritas demo environment from our ESG corporate office in Milford, MA. Validation was designed to demonstrate how Velocity’s easy deployment and management capabilities and copy data workflow automation enable customers to accelerate and streamline data access.

Ease of Management and Deployment

ESG Lab started its validation by walking through the Velocity Storage Server virtual appliance deployment process. We logged into the vSphere Client in the test environment and from the file tab chose to deploy an OVF template. The virtual version of the Velocity Storage Server is available as an OVA file download on the Veritas support site for licensed clients. After clicking deploy, we accepted the license agreement, assigned the appliance a name, and selected a cluster node to run it on. It took about ten minutes to create the thick-provisioned 300GB Velocity VM in our environment. Then ESG Lab used an SSH session to log into the VM and configure the Velocity VM network. We configured typical network settings such as IP address, gateway, and subnet mask using the Velocity configuration CLI.

With the network configured, we then logged into the Velocity VM using the vSphere Client. We configured two disk drives to the VM to support the Velocity application. The first disk drive was for Velocity metadata, and the second was used to store Velocity copy data. We rebooted the VM with the two new disk drives and once again logged into the Velocity VM using SSH. Then, ESG Lab selected the manage storage option from the CLI to prepare the disk drive for use. The last step of the deployment was to register the newly configured Velocity Storage Server with the Velocity Cloud Portal. From the CLI, ESG Lab used the register command to obtain a unique user ID and password from the appliance. Then, from the Velocity Cloud Portal, we used the copy command option to paste the information into a form field in the UI and hit register to complete the process. As shown in Figure 3, the complete deployment procedure took us about 32 minutes.

Next, as shown in Figure 4, ESG Lab used the Velocity Cloud Portal to step through each step in the configuration process. Once the initial deployment is complete, the cloud portal, which runs in the public cloud, can be accessed from any browser and can be used to easily manage Velocity. The portal tour, which is accessed from the Launch Pad tab on the left side of the UI, walks a user from end to end through a first-time configuration. The tour walks the user through the process in logical order. An incomplete step is highlighted in red and the blue bar in the tour window tracks the process. A red box indicates nothing has been configured for that step of the process. Once an initial selection has been configured, the box turns white and the process repeats until each task is complete. Additional resources, such as clients, data ingests, users and sandboxes, can be added at any time using the launch pad icons or navigation tabs on the left side of the UI—even after all first-time configuration tour steps are 100% complete.

Finally, as shown in Figure 5, ESG explored how users interact with Velocity. We did this after configuring an Oracle client to Velocity and doing an initial data ingest—these tasks will be described in more detail in the next section of this report. Though users can be added out of sequence, they will only be able to log in to the UI if no client resources are assigned to them.

A Velocity user can be assigned one of three roles. These three roles are the Velocity administrator, Database administrator, and the Sandbox user. Each organization requires at least one Velocity administrator who has access to all Velocity resources.

The Database administrator manages database tasks including data ingest and database access. Sandbox users have access to specific databases and database copies that have been assigned to them. As shown in Figure 5, we configured a Velocity administrator and a Sandbox user for testing. Our Velocity administrator account was able to handle all the database tasks we needed during validation.

Why This Matters

Creating and maintaining the right copies of production data can easily become a complex and costly proposition. Multiple workflows, tools, and applications can quickly lead to copy data sprawl. And it’s not just about containing sprawl; it’s also about extracting more value from the data copies.

ESG Lab has confirmed that Veritas Velocity delivers rapid, on-demand, self-service access to copy data for authorized developers and administrators, when and where they need it. The Velocity Cloud Console launch pad made it quick and easy to step through an automated configuration process. Copies were being exercised less than an hour after getting started with the definition of data sources, ingest and copy data access policies, users, and roles.

Copy Data Workflow Automation

In this section of the report, ESG explores the efficiency of Velocity copy data workflow automation. To demonstrate the efficiency of the solution, we walked through the data ingest process and sandbox creation, and audited proof of concept (POC) data from a real-world Velocity customer.

Veritas Velocity can operate by itself as a copy data management solution or it can be integrated with Veritas NetBackup for even greater copy data efficiency. For this review, as shown in Figure 6, ESG validated both options. All the copy data workflow automation testing leveraged an Oracle Database host as the production source.

To get started with the first data ingest, we added the source database as a client to Velocity by setting up a trusted network connection between the Velocity Storage Server and the Oracle Database application host. With NetBackup, we installed the NetBackup client and database agent on the Oracle host and configured a backup from within the NetBackup UI using policy attributes recommendations from the Velocity administrator guide. In both cases, the data ingest process uses RMAN backup processing to get the data into Velocity. The first data ingest is a level 0 or full backup, and subsequent backups use Oracle Block Change Tracking. This means that for the ingest process, only the changed data blocks need to be transferred on an ongoing basis. Once transferred, the new blocks are applied to the initial full RMAN backup. With Velocity, ingest can be scheduled to run on a regular basis so there will always be a current version of the database image from which Velocity copies can be made.

Next, ESG used the Velocity Cloud Portal to create a sandbox. A sandbox provides users with an isolated environment in which to test and experiment with a copy of production data without affecting the working data. When the data in a sandbox becomes stale, the user can create another sandbox from more recent data.

A Velocity sandbox runs on an application-aware virtual copy. Velocity leverages the Veritas File System, which is part of the Velocity Storage Server, to create these virtual copies or snapshots. For this Lab review, we used NFS to mount the virtual copy to the target host. Other protocols such as CIFS/SMB are available. iSCSI and FC will be supported by September 2017.

As shown in Figure 7, ESG used the Velocity Cloud Portal to create two sandboxes based on an 11G Oracle Database ingest. The Create Sandbox wizard also allows the user to modify some environment settings. This includes the amount of memory the database will use, the Oracle home directory, the NFS mount path, and most importantly, the working directory location. The working directory is used to make the sandbox writable. Database reads come from the virtual copy snapshot, and all writes go to the working directory.

As shown in the Oracle CLI view at the bottom of Figure 7, ESG created two sandboxes from the same ingest files. The first sandbox was called orc1, and the second was named vrts. We added and modified tables in the vrts sandbox and then ran queries to demonstrate that the sandboxes are isolated from each other as well as the production data and ingest copy. The queries show that the vrts sandbox had been updated but the orc1 sandbox remained unaltered.

Copy Data Workflow Efficiency

Finally, ESG audited POC data from a real-world Velocity customer. The customer was running an 11G Oracle RAC environment with an 11TB Oracle Database. To help reduce costs, the customer wanted to run development testing of the database in a single node test environment on a regular basis. They developed a successful native solution; however, it proved to be too resource- and time-intensive to make it practical for their environment, so they turned to Veritas for an alternative. Figure 8 shows the results of the procedure before and after Veritas Velocity. Figure 8 shows what it takes to create two iterations of a development environment with Velocity versus the native manual recovery and reconfiguration process. It includes the amount of time required and processing tasks such as ingest, configuration, restore, and provisioning. It also shows the human resources required to complete the process.

What the Numbers Mean

  • Figure 8 compares the time and resources required to provision a single instance Oracle test/dev environment from an existing Oracle RAC environment using Veritas Velocity versus manual backup, recovery, and reconfiguration.
  • Creating the first test environment was approximately 2.7 times faster with Velocity and required half the human resources.
  • Creating the second test environment was approximately 8.8 times faster with Velocity and required half the human resources.
  • With Velocity, after the first-time access is granted to the database and communication is established to the target host, test environments can be self-provisioned by the end-user.

Why This Matters

Creating usable copies of production data that can support different workflows (e.g., test/dev, DR/BC, etc.) can be time-consuming and manually intensive, and usually requires several different subject matter experts to make the environment usable. Often, to the dismay of IT, even when copies already exist, it is impossible to leverage them for copy workflows due to infrastructure shortcomings.

ESG Lab configured and accessed space-efficient copies of an Oracle 11G database for a simulated developer. ESG Lab noted the efficiency and flexibility of having two methods for ingesting data into a centralized pool of copy data: configure Veritas NetBackup software to store backup data on the Velocity Storage Appliance or use a Velocity client installed on the Oracle Server. ESG also validated that Velocity makes it possible for an end-user to self-provision database copy resources by automating complex provisioning steps.

The Bigger Truth

Building on its pedigree of long-term data retention and recovery, combined with its recognition that the IT landscape is changing (including a growing emphasis on workload-centric data protection, availability, and management), Veritas seems well suited to combine its approach to copy data management and its broader ability to deliver data management, protection/preservation, and information availability.

Velocity leverages native application-level APIs and a virtual file system to provide space-efficient, application-aware data copies that eliminate the need to create and store physical copies that consume unnecessary space. This file system-enabled virtual copy approach simplifies the creation of application-consistent copies and makes object-level restores easy, with no impact to production applications—especially compared with copy data management solutions that leverage low level block-based snapshots. As an example, Velocity uses Oracle RMAN APIs to create application-aware copies. As a result, Velocity can be used to obtain a copy of a single table, a log, or even a complete database from an Oracle instance for use by a developer. This architectural approach can also be used to make a copy of a production Oracle 11G database and access it from an Oracle 12c test/dev environment, or from an Oracle RAC production environment to a single instance DevOps environment.

When validation testing was conducted, Oracle was the only application-aware Velocity solution that was generally available. Now, Microsoft SQL Server via CIFS is supported and VMware is coming soon. Others are planned (e.g., Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint).

If you're struggling with the cost and complexity associated with creating copies of production data for test/development, analytics, and compliance, ESG Lab recommends that you consider the benefits of the recently announced Veritas Velocity copy data management solution. Deployed as a virtual or physical appliance in your data center and managed centrally via an intuitive, guided, easy to navigate public cloud portal, Velocity automates workflows so you can create copies in seconds—when and where the business needs them the most. ESG Lab believes that the decision to do a proof of concept with Velocity is a “no brainer” if you're already using Veritas NetBackup to protect Oracle databases. Take advantage of a free 30TB Velocity license and white glove support to turn your existing backups into a centrally managed utility that automates the creation of capacity-optimized copies for developers, data miners, and compliance auditors. ESG expects Velocity to start many unexpected conversations in 2017, as organizations of all sizes evolve from data protection alone to data availability and data management.

1. Source: ESG Research Report, 2017 Data Protection Modernization Trends, to be published.
This ESG Lab Review was commissioned by Veritas and is distributed under license from ESG.
Topics: Data Protection