Unpacking the Details of Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery (IBDR): Interview with an Expert

Doug Braun, Director, Product Marketing at Infrascale sat down with Infrascale Vice President, Product Management, Alexey Turchanikov to discuss the new Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery solution. During the interview Alexey describes the changes and discusses how the new appliances provide partners the flexibility and performance they need.

Behind the Launch of IBDR

Doug Braun: Infrascale announced the new IBDR product – changes to the name, the appliances, and the cloud configurations on March 24, 2021. What was the main reason for this launch?

Alexey Turchanikov: The previous iteration of the solution, Infrascale Disaster Recovery (IDR), successfully solved for a turnkey/all-inclusive Disaster Recovery as a Service solution – bringing hybrid cloud DR to SMBs (via MSPs) that required something more than mere backup of their on-premises servers – without an enterprise price tag. As we gained customers, the truth about how the solution was being consumed emerged. The market is constantly changing. Technology is constantly changing. So, too, are customer needs. Even in a successful state, IDR needed to adapt and change with the times.

We took this opportunity to: a) refresh the appliance hardware; b) explore one of our differentiators in a deeper way (local boot); and c) formalize the flexibility of the solution. As we did each of those, we kept a keen eye to maintain the qualities that made the product successful in the first place.

New IBDR Appliances

DB: The press release mentions two items in the subheading: New appliances and New cloud configurations. Let’s discuss them one at a time. First, please tell me about the new Infrascale appliances.

AT: The success of IDR (now IBDR) is primarily driven by its simplicity, especially for companies that have never used a hybrid backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution before – yet have business critical infrastructure that must survive natural or man-made disaster. These ultimate end-users are very small, non-technical businesses. As such, they don’t necessarily have a lot of experience with IT and server management. Thus, simplicity is imperative.

Usage data over the past couple of years showed some very definitive ways our product was being used to solve backup and DR problems. While we knew that the appliances needed a technology refresh, it was critical to understand the new configurations (and their associated costs) – as to keep serving those customers well. With data to lead the way – we introduced six new appliance models: a desktop and a 1U model for micro- environments, a desktop and a 1U model for average use, and two 1U models that pack some serious power.

These six models are supplemental to two very large storage models we already have. Each model – whether the smallest or most-robust – have the same powerful backup and DR features enabled through our software. So, the selection of the appliance model simply becomes a function of on-premises needs. These needs include, how much storage is required, how much concurrent boot capacity is required, and (when combined with cloud storage and DR) what are the appropriate trade-offs to meet the local/on-premises requirements.

Hybrid BDR

DB: You mentioned that IBDR is a hybrid cloud solution? What are the benefits of hybrid BDR?

AT: SMBs (and the MSPs that help them with IT) choose hybrid BDR products that are the right cost-benefit tradeoff – and that provide the best mix of on-premises and cloud capabilities for their situation. One of our specialties is the ability to do local spin-up in the case of micro disaster. We define a micro disaster as a disaster (hard-drive failure, ransomware infestation, accidental file deletion) of one-to-few servers versus a major disaster like flood, fire, hurricane that takes out the on-premises environment. In these micro disaster situations, a full failover to the cloud is overkill. To recover or boot an impacted server, on-premises, on the same network is the most expedient, least impactful to a business… and we excel in that situation – using our on-premises appliances.

SSD Storage

DB: You previously mentioned powerful appliance models, and I noticed that SSD (solid-state drive) options are available. This seems counter-intuitive for meeting SMB needs. Please explain.

AT: Yes, the new 1580 and 1780 1U models that were just introduced are both the most powerful in the line (for RAM and CPU configuration) as well as the first to introduce SSD as the primary storage. They were intentionally crafted to handle a quantity of servers booting on them concurrently – for micro disaster recovery situations. Compared to their predecessor, the SSD models offer greater IOPS (input/output operations per second), improving the performance of the boot and continuous operations while booted Local spin-up is +5x more performant than the previous models.

These are new options to the line and yes, SSD is usually associated with a higher price tag (and maybe not an SMB-happy option). However, we think we’ve done a nice job of balancing the capability for the price point. Again, this isn’t the average base need – but we do use the models for some higher order storge needs – and the end company benefits from the better resources – whether they use to boot or not.

Fast Boot Ready Time

DB: Infrascale boasts about an average of 2 minutes to be boot ready. Can you clarify what boot ready means? And how are you able to achieve that so quickly?

AT: Let’s frame the question in the context of the industry term RTO – Recovery Time Objective.
Simply put, an RTO is the desired maximum amount of time between starting a recovery action and being completely up-and-running. It’s imperative for IT leaders to understand not only the term – but what the requirement is for their particular business and how the backup and disaster recovery products they use can achieve the objective.

Unpacking RTO – there are a number of timing elements: duration of preparing servers, booting the servers (singularly or in a specific sequence), configuring the network, and then confirming operations are available. In that first piece, there are BDR products on the market that require significant amount of time to re-create servers by finding backups, copying them from multiple tiers of low-cost storage, and reconstructing a bootable image from long chains of incremental backups. That’s not our approach! Infrascale has patented technology that ensures that every backup, whether incremental or full, is stored in a ready-to-boot, hydrated state. Therefore, in a DR situation, it takes very little time (average of 120 seconds or less) to take any snapshot from archive and initiate boot of the virtual machine. This is what we mean by an average of 2-minue boot-ready time.

We absolutely have other capabilities (drag-and-drop orchestration, the SSD IOPS performance, and others) that help speed the time of recovery. But our goal is to be boot-ready as quickly as possible. It’s the element we have the most control over.

New IBDR Cloud Configurations

DB: The second big item from the press release is about the new IBDR cloud configurations. A specific point is made that these new configurations are more like the public cloud. Can you elaborate?

AT: Let’s start with public cloud. In each of the major cloud service providers, they separate the notion of compute (CPU/RAM + minimal storage to operate) from storage. They do this to create maximum opportunity for scalability (grow one, the other, or both). We spent time above talking about the on-premises appliance and both compute/RAM and new SSD storage to improved boot capacity in a local situation. The cloud story is no different.

Infrascale has chosen to separate compute from storage so that we can help customers mix-and-match their local and cloud DR solution scenarios. Maybe they only want to boot 1 or 2 VMs locally – but more in the cloud (in a DR situation). Maybe they only have 1-2 VMs total, but a huge database or some really specific retention needs that require terabytes of storage. The new cloud capabilities offer scaling options through their flexibility of configuration – all in the service of meeting customer needs.

Fitting the Pieces Together

DB: What should an IBDR customer expect, technically, for how all these pieces (the appliance, cloud) work together?

AT: While the product has many pieces and configuration options (appliance on-premises, software, cloud compute, cloud storage) it is still ONE turnkey offering for a consistent monthly price. And it still works as one technical solution to backup locally, backup to the cloud, and do either image based restore, file/folder restore, or spin-up/boot. You start with the configuration of backup jobs and retention for any type of supported backups: bare metal physical, agent-less VMware and Hyper-V, all backed-up to the appliance. Agentless support for VMware and Hyper-V to make this setup/backup policy configuration easy – point and click.

After a backup job is created and running – data is transported from the source server to the appliance, it is deduplicated, compressed, and encrypted. Latest copies are stored locally (per a retention policy) – and securely transported (in the deduplicated, compressed, encrypted format) to the cloud. That activity is WAN-optimized – only transferring the minimal changes. The storage is also minimized – captured as incrementals (and in that format where we are constructing the synthetic “full” image to be boot ready). When the company needs to recover, the image is ready to boot quickly.

We also have configuration for file/folder backups, opportunity to change retention policies, and for boot orchestration (in the cloud only) to minimize the RTO. What I’ve just described are the basics of how our solution works, but if you want details, I recommend requesting a demo here.

Right-sized Out-of-the-Box

DB: Why is this new IBDR solution newsworthy for customers?

AT: For new, small customers, with low boot needs – our new appliance models for micro- environments and flexible cloud configurations can be constructed for a minimal footprint of resources on-premises and in the cloud – for a very reasonable price. For new customers, with high boot needs – the new SSD models and mix-and-match capabilities for boot and retention in the cloud also offer a great capability for a reasonable price.

All customers – either case – get the core backup and disaster recovery software and enjoy all the bells-and-whistles of the solution. For our existing partners – selling these new solutions to their customers – we have the right-sized offer to start – and exciting extensibility components (in the cloud) for when those customers grow (but not before then). Right-size now and right-size later.

Find Out More

DB: Alexey, this interview has been great, and I really appreciate your time. How does one find out more about Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery?

AT: The best place to get more information about Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery is from the Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery product page.  In addition, the Infrascale documentation portal provides a wealth of information on our backup and disaster recovery solution – or as mentioned you can contact an Infrascale sales representative for more information and to schedule a demo.