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Data Protection Services | Cloud Boost vs Cloud Tier

Introduction :

It’s a common mistake to think that Cloud Boost and Cloud Tier compete with one another. It’s just  like suggesting a Winnebago and a hatchback to compete. Yes, they both can have one or more people riding in them and they can both be used to get around, but the actual purpose of each is typically quite different.

It’s the same story when one looks at Cloud Boost and Cloud Tier. Of course, both can move data from A to B. But the reason behind each, the purpose for each is quite different. (Does that mean there’s no overlap? Not necessarily. If one needs to go on a 500km holiday and sleep in the car, one can do that in a hatchback or a Winnebago, too. One can often get X to do Y even if it wasn’t built with that in mind.)

let’s examine both and  look at their workflows and also few usage examples.

Cloud Boost

Cloud Boost. Version 1 was released in 2014, and since then development has continued to

the point where CloudBoost now looks like the following:

Cloud Boost Workflow:

Cloud Boost exists to allow NetWorker (or NetBackup or Avamar) to write reduplicated data out to cloud object storage, regardless of whether that’s on-premise (in something like ECS) or writing out to a public cloud’s object storage system(like Virtustream Storage or Amazon S3).

Back in 2014, when the Cloud Boost was first introduced, the Cloud Boost appliance was also a storage node and data had to be cloned from another device to the Cloud Boost storage node, which would push data out to the object. Later, in the second half of 2016, with the introduction of  Cloud Boost 2.1, we’re now at the point where there’s a Cloud Boost API sitting in Networker clients allowing full distributed data processing, with each client talking directly to the object storage. The Cloud Boost appliance now just facilitates this connection.

In the Cloud Boost model, regardless of whether we’re backing up in a local datacenter and pushing to object, or whether all the systems involved in the backup process are sitting in public cloud, the actual backup data never lands on conventional block storage instead  it lands in object storage after it is deduplicated, compressed and encrypted.

Cloud Tier

Cloud Tier is a new functionality released in the Data Domain product range. It became available with Data Domain OS v6, released in the second half of 2016. The workflow for Cloud Tier looks like the following:


Cloud Tier

Cloud Tier is new functionality released in the Data Domain product range – it became available with Data Domain OS v6, released in the second half of 2016. The workflow for Cloud Tier looks like the following:

CloudTier Workflow:

Data migration with Cloud Tier is handled as a function of the Data Domain operating system (or controlled by a fully integrated application such as Networker or Avamar). The general process is that once data has reached a certain age on the Active Tier of the Data Domain, it is migrated to the Cloud Tier without any need for administrator or user involvement.

The key for the differences and the different use cases  between Cloud Boost and Cloud Tier is in the above sentence: “once data has reached a certain age on the Active Tier”. In this we’re reminded of the primary use case for Cloud Tier – supporting Long Term Retention (LTR) in a highly economical format and bypassing any need for tape within an environment. (Of course, the other easy differentiator is that Cloud Tier is a Data Domain feature – depending on your environment that may form part of the decision process.)

Example use cases:

To get a feel for the differences in where one might deploy Cloud Boost or Cloud Tier, the following use cases may help.

Cloning to Cloud:

You currently backup to disk (Data Domain or AFTD) within your environment and have been cloning to tape. You want to ensure you’ve got a second copy of your data, and you want to keep that data off-site. Instead of using tape, you want to use Cloud object storage.

In this scenario, you might look at replacing your tape library with a Cloud Boost system instead. You’d backup to your local protection storage, then when it’s time to generate your secondary copy, you’d clone to your Cloud Boost device which would push the data (compressed, deduplicated and encrypted) up into object storage. At a high level, that might result in a workflow such as the following.

CloudBoost Clone to Cloud:

Backing up to the Cloud

You’re currently backing up locally within your datacenter, but you want to remove all local backup targets.  In this scenario, you might replace your local backup storage with a Cloud Boost appliance, connected to an object store, and backup via Cloud Boost (via client direct), landing data immediately off-premises and into object storage at a cloud provider (public or hosted).

At a high level, the workflow for this resembles the following:

Backing up in Cloud

You’ve got some IaaS systems sitting in the Cloud already. File, web and database servers sitting in say, Amazon, and you need to ensure you can protect the data they’re hosting. You want greater control than say, Amazon snapshots, and since you’re using a Networker Capacity license or a DPS capacity license, you know you can just spin up another Networker server without an issue – sitting in the cloud itself.

In that case, you’d spin up not only the Networker server but a Cloud Boost appliance as well – after all, Amazon love Networker + Cloud Boost:

“The availability of Dell EMC Networker with Cloud Boost on AWS is a particularly exciting announcement for all of the customers who have come to depend on Dell EMC solutions for data protection in their on-premises environments,” said Bill Vass, Vice President, Technology, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Now these customers can get the same data protection experience on AWS, providing seamless operational backup and recovery, and long-term retention across all of their environments.”

That’ll deliver the NetWorker functionality being used on a daily basis, but in the Cloud and writing directly to object storage.

The high level view of the backup workflow here is effectively the same as the original diagram used to introduce Cloud Boost. 

Replacing Tape for Long Term Retention:

You’ve got a Data Domain in each datacenter; the backups at each site go to the local Data Domain then using Clone Controlled Replication are copied to the other Data Domain as soon as each save set finishes. You’d like to replace tape for your long term retention, but since you’re protecting a lot of data, you want to push data you rarely need to recover from out to object storage. When you do need to recover that data, you want to absolutely minimize the amount of data that needs to be retrieved from the Cloud.

This is a definite Cloud Tier solution. Cloud Tier can be used to automatically extend the Data Domain storage, providing a storage tier for long term retention data that’s very cheap and highly reliable. Cloud Tier can be configured to automatically migrate data older than 2 months out to object storage, and the great thing is, it can do it automatically for anything written to the Data Domain. So if you’ve got some databases using DDBoost for Enterprise Apps writing directly, you can setup migration policies for them, too. Best of all, when you do need to recall data from Cloud Tier, Boost for Enterprise Apps and Networker can handle that recall process automatically for you, and the Data Domain only ever recalls the delta between deduplicated data already sitting on the active tier and what’s out in the Cloud.


The high-level view of the workflow for this use case will resemble the following:

Wrapping Up:

Cloud Tier and Cloud Boost are both able to push data into object storage, but they don’t have the same use cases. Hopefully the explanation and examples above has helped to set the scene on their use cases.




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