This report documents hands-on testing and validation of Dell EMC ProtectPoint technology for XtremIO with Dell EMC Data Domain for protection storage. The report highlights data protection for Oracle Databases, with a focus on the performance and efficiency of backups and restores at the host, network, and storage layers.
For several years, IT executives and professionals have consistently cited improving data backup and recovery, and managing data growth among their top IT priorities in ESG’s annual IT spending intentions survey (see Figure 1).1 When infrastructure failure or data corruption interrupts access to production data, organizations must be able to restore both the information and application/user access to it quickly. Extended outages mean lost revenue and productivity, and possibly the inability to meet regulatory requirements.
ESG research also indicates that IT leaders are increasingly focused on improved recoverability. In ESG’s survey exploring trends in data protection modernization, respondents cited increased reliability of backups or recoveries, increased speed and agility of recoveries, and increased speed or frequency of backups among the top data protection mandates for IT leadership.2
In addition, many organizations have a difficult time finding the best option for protecting their mission- and business- critical Oracle database environments. These environments are increasingly being hosted on extremely high-performance all-flash or hybrid arrays, which can introduce challenges. Moving data from primary storage through an application server, then a backup server, to protection storage can be problematic when the application must be paused for the duration of the backup. Similarly, when large volumes of data must be moved for recoveries, both recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) SLAs are at risk. Adding infrastructure (servers, storage, and software) to meet these SLAs drives up costs and complexity.
Dell EMC ProtectPoint technology
Dell EMC ProtectPoint technology is a data protection solution that integrates primary storage, VMAX All Flash and XtremIO, with Data Domain protection storage. This Dell EMC technology is designed to accelerate backup and recovery, help organizations meet application protection SLAs, and minimize backup impact on applications, all while reducing cost and complexity.
Figure 2 illustrates how Dell EMC works to back up Oracle databases directly from primary storage to Data Domain. First, the storage administrator makes a point-in-time copy of the LUN to be protected and seeds the initial blocks on the Data Domain system to prepare the environment for its first full backup. Then, an Oracle DBA triggers a backup at an application-consistent checkpoint. This pauses the application just long enough to mark the point in time for that backup. The primary storage—XtremIO in this example—leverages changed block tracking (CBT) to send only unique blocks since the last backup directly to Data Domain over Fibre Channel. The Data Domain system ingests and deduplicates those blocks and uses them to create an independent, full backup in native format. Using ProtectPoint, every backup is a full backup with the storage efficiency of an incremental backup, which simplifies recovery.
Oracle integration enables DBAs to control backups directly from Oracle’s native backup utility, Oracle RMAN. ProtectPoint technology supports direct backup for Oracle 11g and 12c databases as well as Oracle RAC running on Windows, Linux, and Unix.
ESG Lab Validation
ESG Lab performed hands-on evaluation and testing of Dell EMC ProtectPoint technology via remote access to a Dell EMC facility. Testing was designed to validate the performance and efficiency of the solution using industry-standard tools and methodologies. The impact to the host, application, and network during backups were also of interest.
Backup Performance and Efficiency
The ESG Lab test bed consisted of a single 10TB Oracle 12c database running on a Cisco UCS C200 server; an 8GB SAN-attached XtremIO array with 25 x 400GB SSD drives providing primary storage; a Dell EMC RecoverPoint appliance; and a Data Domain DD9500 with 60 x 3TB SAS drives providing protection storage.3 Our testing compared a traditional NAS backup appliance with the Data Domain Protection storage leveraging both DD boost and ProtectPoint technology.
Oracle RMAN was used to perform all backups in these tests. Host data was collected using a combination of Collectd, Graphite, and Grafana. Other data collection tools included Dell EMC Data Protection Advisor, the Data Domain CLI, the XtremIO administration console, and the NAS appliance administration console. Runtimes for all RMAN commands in backups were captured in the scripts that ran each backup and restore. NFS was used for backups and restores to the NAS backup appliance, and data was generated for the Oracle server using the dbgen tool.
ESG Lab Testing
An initial backup was run prior to beginning testing and the database was reset to a common starting point using an XtremIO snapshot. The backup script was designed to simulate 15 days of production activity and backups by first inserting 615 million rows—a 1% change rate—of new data into the database, then running an RMAN backup while logging the runtime of the RMAN command. Next, a restore of the oldest backup was performed by specifying the RMAN tag, followed by a restore of the newest backup by using no options. Finally, the test database was shut down, all Oracle filesystems were unmounted, and the LUNs were restored from read-only XtremIO snapshots.
Results of the first series of backup tests comparing a traditional NAS appliance to Dell EMC Data Domain with DD Boost are shown in Figure 4. For the Data Domain solution, the average backup time across all 15 days was 2:10:15, a 42% reduction, or nearly double the performance of the traditional NAS backup appliance over the same 10GbE network.
Next, ESG Lab looked at the additional benefit of adding ProtectPoint technology. As Figure 5 shows, the only change to the test environment was the addition of the ProtectPoint agent to communicate with the RecoverPoint appliance.
Figure 6 demonstrates the striking difference. With ProtectPoint technology, the average backup time across all 15 days was 31:49, an 89% reduction, or nearly eight times the performance of the traditional NAS backup appliance.
Detailed results for all tests are listed in the Appendix.
What the Numbers Mean
- Runtime for the ProtectPoint backups averaged 31:49 minutes, while traditional NAS averaged nearly four hours.
- Each ProtectPoint recovery point represents a full image of the database, although only incremental data was transferred.
- Over an 8GB FC SAN connection, ProtectPoint was four times faster than DD Boost and eight times faster than a NAS backup appliance over a 10GbE network.
Why This Matters
The ongoing growth of data volumes challenges IT in many ways, but particularly in the backup domain. IT departments are constantly looking for ways to speed backups. However, the enterprise organizations they work for often require 24x7 uptime and have little tolerance for interruption, even for critical data protection tasks. Performance enhancements can easily be complicated by the ongoing growth of data volumes and complex infrastructures.
ESG Lab validated that the Dell EMC Data Domain solution integrates with RMAN to provide DBAs with self-service, application-integrated backups. The multi-stage approach means businesses can start with Data Domain and DD Boost and add ProtectPoint technology easily and non-disruptively as the solution grows. ESG Lab confirmed that ProtectPoint reduced backup duration by nearly 90% when compared with a traditional NAS backup appliance.
Recovery Performance and Efficiency
Next, ESG Lab evaluated the performance and efficiency of restores. While backup performance is important, time to restore is even more so, as it represents the level of disruption to an organization recovering from data loss or corruption and getting back into production.
ESG Lab Testing
To test recovery time and efficiency, two restores were performed with each configuration—one from the oldest backup and one from the newest backup.
As Figure 8 shows, DD Boost showed a significant advantage over the NAS appliance, reducing the restore time by 40 minutes for the newest backup and by more than 60 minutes for the oldest backup over the same 10GbE network.
Next, ESG Lab looked at the additional benefit of adding ProtectPoint technology. As Figure 9 shows, the only change to the test environment was the addition of the ProtectPoint agent to communicate with RecoverPoint.
Figure 10 demonstrates how ProtectPoint delivers an even greater advantage over the NAS appliance, reducing the restore time by more than three and a half hours for both the oldest and newest backups over the same 10GbE network.
What the Numbers Mean
- Runtime averaged 31:53 for the ProtectPoint restores, and more than four hours for the traditional NAS.
- Restoring from the newest backup over an 8GFC SAN connection, ProtectPoint was nine times faster than DD Boost and 10.5 times faster than a NAS backup appliance over a 10GbE network.
Why This Matters
It’s easy to understand why improving data backup and recovery appears as a top IT priority in ESG research year after year.4 The ability to quickly return to normal operations after data loss or data corruption is critical to an organization’s success. Extended downtime is extremely costly and can lead to the demise of a business.
ESG Lab validated that leveraging CBT for restores enabled ProtectPoint to reduce restore times by more than 90% when compared with a traditional NAS appliance, and by nearly 80% when compared with DD Boost alone.
Host, Storage, and Network Efficiency
ESG Lab also validated the overall efficiency of the Dell EMC platform with ProtectPoint technology by examining host CPU utilization, data reduction, and network utilization.
ESG Lab Testing
Figure 11 shows the average runtime and CPU utilization for the NAS appliance, Dell EMC Data Domain with DD Boost, and Dell EMC ProtectPoint technology. ProtectPoint not only completed backups in significantly shorter time, but also consumed significantly lower CPU cycles.
The NAS backup appliance tested uses local compression, and achieved a 3% reduction over the entire 15 days of backups. Dell EMC’s Data Domain uses global deduplication, which reduced data by 93%. With ProtectPoint, data reduction increased to 94%.
Finally, ESG Lab examined network load. Both DD Boost and ProtectPoint significantly reduced data transferred during backup operations, but as Figure 13 shows, ProtectPoint was also able to drastically reduce data transfer during recovery. This occurs because rollback restores for ProtectPoint leverage CBT to send only the blocks that need to be changed.
Why This Matters
IT is under a lot of pressure to keep pace with business as it continues to roll out new applications, databases, and programs to meet customer expectations. IT organizations are constantly being asked to satisfy these business requirements while operating within constrained budgets, and they lack the time and money to deploy new protection infrastructure every time data or applications are added to the production environment.
Because ProtectPoint technology can create full backups and restores with incremental/unique data using CBT and data deduplication, impact to the host, storage, and network are minimized when compared with traditional NAS backups. Databases continue to run and applications continue to serve customers while data protection is executing.
ESG Lab Validation Highlights
- ESG Lab validated that the Dell EMC Data Domain solution integrates with RMAN to provide DBAs with self-service, application-integrated backups. The multi-stage approach means businesses can start with Data Domain and DD Boost and add ProtectPoint technology easily and non-disruptively as the solution grows. ESG Lab confirmed that ProtectPoint reduced backup duration by nearly 90% as compared with a traditional NAS backup appliance.
- ESG Lab validated that leveraging CBT for restores enabled ProtectPoint to reduce restore times by more than 90% as compared with a traditional NAS appliance and nearly 80% compared with DD Boost alone.
- Because ProtectPoint technology can create full backups and restores with incremental/unique data using changed block tracking and data deduplication, impact to the host, storage, and network are minimized as compared with traditional NAS backup appliances, so databases can keep running and applications can continue to service customers while data protection is executing.
Issues to Consider
- While ProtectPoint’s agent provides tight native integration with Oracle versions 11g, 12c, and RAC, it’s important to note that Oracle Automatic Storage Management (ASM) support requires the file system agent and an RPQ.
- The test results presented in this report are based on applications and benchmarks deployed in a controlled environment with industry-standard testing tools. Due to the many variables in each production data center environment, capacity planning and testing in your own environment are recommended.
The Bigger Truth
ESG research reveals that midmarket and enterprise organizations place improving data protection, managing data growth, and business continuity among their highest IT priorities.5 With applications growing in both size and complexity and IT leaders increasingly focused on improved recoverability, it’s easy to see why.6 IT leadership mandates for increased reliability of backups and recoveries, increased speed and agility of recoveries, and increased speed and/or frequency of backups are demanding a new approach to protecting mission- and business-critical applications.
Backup software vendors and Oracle DBAs have long relied on the RMAN utility for data protection. For the DBA, it’s a familiar, native tool used to send backups to disk and tape storage resources provisioned by their IT organizations. For backup software vendors, it’s a core component of their Oracle database protection agents. However, RMAN alone does not guarantee a highly integrated, end-to-end solution for Oracle database protection.
Dell EMC designed ProtectPoint technology to be a tightly integrated, end-to-end data protection solution for Oracle databases, empowering DBAs to back up directly to Data Domain from either primary storage or the database server for complete protection, regardless of where the data resides, with minimal impact to the database. ProtectPoint enables DBAs to discover, optimize, and automate copy data management, reducing cost and complexity while optimizing storage and enabling space-efficient full backups.
ESG Lab examined the combination of using ProtectPoint technology and Data Domain to protect and recover a live Oracle database to validate how it would perform in a customer environment. This included the ease of integrating ProtectPoint with Data Domain, backup and recovery performance, and the efficiency of the overall solution. Data Domain with DD Boost provided clear advantages over a traditional NAS appliance, with higher performance and strong data deduplication. ProtectPoint added significant performance and efficiency advantages on top of DD Boost, providing full backups at the cost of incremental and fast recovery with striking efficiencies at the host, on storage, and over the network.
Many organizations today are turning to integrated backup appliances for two reasons: ease of deployment, and reduction in CapEx and OpEx. While not technically an integrated appliance solution, the combination of Data Domain and ProtectPoint technology delivers self-service, high-performance backup and recovery for DBAs, with minimal impact. It’s a powerful combination that can help organizations simplify and optimize Oracle data protection while reducing costs.
1. Source: ESG Research Report, 2016 IT Spending Intentions Survey, February 2016.↩
2. Source: ESG Research Report, 2015 Trends in Data Protection Modernization, September 2015.↩
3. Configuration details can be found in the Appendix.↩
4. Source: ESG Research Report, 2016 IT Spending Intentions Survey, February 2016.↩
5. Source: ESG Research Report, 2016 IT Spending Intentions Survey, February 2016.↩
6. Source: ESG Research Report, 2015 Trends in Data Protection Modernization, September 2015.↩
ESG Lab Reports
The goal of ESG Lab reports is to educate IT professionals about data center technology products for companies of all types and sizes. ESG Lab reports are not meant to replace the evaluation process that should be conducted before making purchasing decisions, but rather to provide insight into these emerging technologies. Our objective is to go over some of the more valuable feature/functions of products, show how they can be used to solve real customer problems and identify any areas needing improvement. ESG Lab's expert third-party perspective is based on our own hands-on testing as well as on interviews with customers who use these products in production environments.