WINTER RELEASE: INFRASCALE DR V6.17

This Winter marks the latest release of the Infrascale Disaster Recovery service. IDR v6.17 brings new quality of life improvements, some key fixes and introduces the all new Infrascale Documentation Portal! A big thanks goes out to all current Partners as well as our Product and Development teams for working toward our mission of eradicating downtime and data loss for businesses of all sizes.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

Retention 2.0 (Applies to VMware & Hyper-V retention policies)

Retention 2.0 will bring about new retention options for both VMware and Hyper-V backups. Now, backups can be configured to daily, weekly and monthly rollups, whereas previously all restore points were preserved. For customers that perform frequent backups, this change requires far less space on the appliance and prevents the need to replace over-filled hardware. In addition, this allows customers to configure long term retention for no additional cost!

Infrascale Documentation Portal

All new in v6.17, the Infrascale Documentation Portal! We have centralized all documentation for you in terms of specifications on each product, notes on getting started, release notes, product info, and more. This web portal with instant and full-text search functionality is an improvement on past documentation, where users had to rely on short, specific KB articles or downloadable PDF documents. The new documentation portal is practical, user friendly, and comprehensive. Should you have any feedback to continue improving our documentation portal, please let us know!

Unlimited VMware Incrementals

In this feature update, you can run one full VMware backup, and subsequently run incrementals forever. Currently after a certain number of incrementals, you’ll have to perform a full backup. This is not ideal for, say, a 10TB machine as the full backup will take quite a bit of time. Now that we’ve enabled unlimited VMware incrementals, you won’t need to run full backups any longer.

Restore Files to the Appliance Network Share

Need the ability to quickly restore individual email messages from an Exchange backup? An instant restore to a local network share allows for this to be done in minutes rather than hours. This release item allows users to instantly restore individual files from any backup job to the Appliance Network Share, including file-level jobs, MS Exchange backups, VMs and disk images. So, if an end user needs one individual email but can’t recall the subject line, the admin can perform a restore to the local network share and the end user can then search the content to find the individual file.

ADDITIONAL ITEM(S)

Below we’ve listed some of the additional items included in this release, which add up to yet another major quality of life improvement for our techs and their customers.

Windows Backup Agent UI Refresh

Now, we’ve simplified installation of the Windows Backup Agent for mass deployment. This will allow for a more simple mass deployment and results in a better user experience. Not only are there fewer steps to complete the installation, but a new user won’t need to move back and forth between the appliance and the machine to copy passwords as was previously required…

WHAT’S NEXT

Keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for replication limiting! With replication limiting, we’ll soon give our customers the option to limit replication to just 1 job per day. Previously, multiple jobs per day would run and create a backup bottleneck. Soon, what you’ll see will help resolve any issues that may arise when the system can’t keep up with replication jobs. You will be able to set replication to once-per-day, which will decrease the amount of bandwidth used for replication. As these policies will work on a per-machine basis, you will have plenty of flexibility and control over these options.

Stay tuned for more exciting product updates down the road!

-The Infrascale Product Team

Ransomware Protection in 2019

While you may be hearing that the total number of ransomware attacks declined in 2018, that doesn’t mean your data is safe. In fact, CyberSecurity Ventures predicts that ransomware will cost businesses $6 trillion by 2021 and Cisco considers it more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs.

Knowing how grim this all sounds, how do you truly protect your business? Here’s our checklist:

  • A major vector for an attack is an attachment in an email. You can do a couple things to safeguard from this vector. First, scan all attachments with a good anti malware solution and make sure the definitions are up to date and your solution provider has some protection from zero day attacks. Secondly, and maybe most important, is to train your staff to be weary of attachments –even if they come from a trusted source. If it looks suspicious, do not open it. If it is something that you feel may be important or it appears to come from someone you know, contact them and ask if they sent it. Another related vector is malicious websites that are a conduit for malware. Be sure your anti malware solution can block suspicious websites and web links.
  • Have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and a solution of managing and mitigating the impact these devices have on the security of your environment. You need control over the notebooks, mobile devices, and tablets that enter your network. Your solution must provide you with sufficient visibility into what’s connected to your network and what those devices are doing. You need to be able to enforce policies that prevent users from accessing compromised websites or downloading suspicious files.
  • Run modern operating systems. Systems like Windows 7 may be user favorites and may support some legacy applications, but they are the cyber criminals’ dream. They lack the sophisticated built-in defenses found in operating systems like Windows 10. If your business uses Macs, you are not immune. Be sure to get users on the latest version of Mac OS as quickly as possible.
  • Patch every server, network device and endpoint with the latest security patch. This is critical as it can be an effective vector for attack and many IT departments are lax about patching.
  • Secure your network by deploying a layered approach; protecting your endpoints, network, email, and DNS layer. Do not ignore IoT devices. They are vulnerabilities too! They’re often ignored or even unknown to the IT department, but by removing simple points of vulnerability, you can effectively block the attack before it enters your infrastructure.
  • Protect your assets by segmenting your network to prevent an attack from being able to spread. Segmented networks will limit the number of resources that that can be attacked from a single entry point. This also allows you to deploy the strongest defenses where the highest value services and data reside without burdening the entire network with the expense and complexity of these defenses. This is all intended to ensure that your entire network is not compromised in a single attack and any damage that does occur is in the lowest value portions of the infrastructure.
  • Closely monitor network activity. This allows you to identify patterns of attacks before they can cause real damage. Deploy a good Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool and use it.
  • Most importantly, have a business continuity plan that details how to respond in the event of an attack. Carefully choreograph all the steps you need to take and what your users need to do to be sure they do not make the situation worse and are ready to resume work once your systems are back online. Core to this plan is a disaster recovery solution that is designed to restore your critical business functions quickly enough to avoid the effect of a prolonged outage. This is your life vest when all else fails and the criminal gains sufficient access to your systems to cause major damage. It is the only option available today that can foil every known attack.
  • Orchestration eliminates the panic by allowing you to rely on a pre-planned, automated, and tested recovery. To be effective, the business continuity solution needs to continuously protect your data and has orchestration that automatically restores your entire infrastructure, including servers, network devices and storage to an offsite virtualized environment. The automated orchestration is a key element because it translates to speed and predictability of the restore process when your team is operating under the pressure of an outage. Infrascale’s Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution can deliver a guaranteed failover in 15 minutes or less.

As we know, ransomware is on the rise and it is clearly here to stay. Ransomware is doing some real damage to businesses, and increasing in its sophistication to better target vulnerabilities. All businesses are at risk unless you take action on this checklist of defensive measures to lower your susceptibility to an attack. The true fix is an effective business continuity plan that restores your systems and gets users back online as quickly as possible.

Are you Leaving Endpoints Exposed?

We all know the drill when it comes to data protection: make sure that you can failover servers and business-critical applications in the case of an outage, right? Well, in reality that’s only a fraction of the real picture.

Most businesses these days are either leaving data completely unprotected, or not sufficiently protected. Instead, this is what the data protection plan looks like for a typical SMB:

  • Servers, critical business applications: Disaster Recovery functionality is in place
  • Branch offices, remote workers, endpoints: EXPOSED
  • Cloud Applications (O365, Salesforce.com, G Suite, Box, Dropbox): EXPOSED

While we’ve taken into account servers and mission critical apps, there’s in fact a large portion of business data that isn’t sufficiently protected. There are many reasons for this; Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one trend that presents challenges with endpoint backup and recovery. Cloud apps add yet another hurdle as they will generally have retention policies in place — say 30 days — but after that the data is gone. Forever. So how do we work around this in order to completely protect our business data?

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at endpoint data protection. In earlier days (read: before BYOD), there was less to worry about when it came to endpoints. As employees started creating, editing, and storing business data on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, it suddenly became a data protection concern that needed to be addressed. What would happen if one of those devices was lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised by hackers? What would happen if one of those employees became disgruntled and left the company – taking along with them, valuable business data? It’s all too easy to leave a smartphone in a taxi, spill coffee across a laptop, or have a tablet go missing in an airport.

Protecting this data, of which 60% is unique and does not exist in other backups, can be an issue with IT. Let’s just say that the management of thousands of endpoints isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Aside from the IT nightmare it presents, most businesses see endpoint data protection as an expensive add-on of which those budget dollars should be spent elsewhere.

We’ve also heard the common viewpoint of, “I have all of my data synced via a sync & share product, so it’s protected.” Sorry to break this to you, but your consumer-grade sync & share does not mean you have a backup at all. If you delete a file from your sync, it’s also deleted on your device. There is no replicated copy for recovery.

So, what is the solution for endpoint data protection? First, consider the types of endpoints you have to protect within your business:

  • Laptops including Windows and Mac
  • Tablets and smartphones across Android and iOS

You need a solution that can protect across varying device types and operating systems. Next, centralize all this data in the cloud with a provider that gives you cloud flexibility. Remote backup and recovery from the cloud is especially important with endpoints, as they’re in distributed environments and can’t always be physically accessed by IT. Whether you have your own data center and need to utilize a private cloud or prefer to use a public or vendor cloud, it’s important to have cloud choice. When it comes time for a recovery, you’ll be glad you did. Transparent deployment that stays out of an end-user’s way will make make it much easier when rolling our your endpoint backup solution.

Additional mobile device management (MDM) features are a critical component to a proper endpoint data protection strategy. Geo-locate and remote wipe, for example, can mean the all the difference between having your data fall into the wrong hands versus staying secure and protected. With geo-locate you’ll be able to determine when and where the data is accessed, as well as by who. Geo-fencing capabilities can prevent access to devices should they turn up in a geographically un-allowed area. Remote wipe capabilities, specifically select wipe, will allow for only business data to be wiped, leaving personal data unaffected, should an employee wish to part ways with a company unexpectedly.

Once you have your solution in place, you’ll want to set up frequent backups — multiple times per day — in order to capture newly changed or created files. Backup all devices on any OS, protect it in the cloud, access it anytime, from anywhere. For IT, this solution will not only alleviate the historical problems and concerns with endpoint backup and recovery, but it will make their jobs easier in the long run.

For a more detailed look at endpoint protection tips and strategies, check out our recent webinar! This on-demand webinar provides insight to the blind spot of backup, endpoint data protection. You’ll learn how to utilize the cloud to fix backup’s blind spot. You’ll hear from both Infrascale and Storage Switzerland to learn the tips and trips for endpoint backup and disaster recovery. You won’t want to miss it, watch on-demand now: Using The Cloud To Fix Backup’s Blind Spot: Endpoint Data Protection.

Will Your DR Solution Rise to the Challenge?

This may sound like a familiar situation: You have the latest and greatest disaster recovery software available. You have carefully designed processes in place to monitor the system, to be sure that the backup jobs run when scheduled and all your data is protected. Your system supports Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) to dissimilar hardware, so you will be able to restore your systems on new hardware, if needed. All this gives you 100% confidence that, in the event of a disaster, you can recover all your systems and get your infrastructure back up and running. Sounds like your data protection plan is on point, but even assuming that you can recover these critical systems just as expected, we have some news for you. You’re still not properly protecting your business.

The problem arises from the fact that traditional disaster recovery was originally developed even prior to internet, when the pace of business was slow as a snail compared to today’s standards. Businesses could accept a longer Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Systems were less complex, which aided in making traditional disaster recovery an acceptable solution. The transaction rate of most businesses would allow a down time of a few hours with little problem, and even a day or two with some inconvenience. In today’s world, not only would such disruptions in vital systems be unacceptable, but the complexity of modern systems would add to the recovery time afforded by typical disaster recovery solutions. What is needed is a modern disaster recovery solution, that also provides business continuity functionality, at a price that everyone can afford.

In the past, disaster recovery solutions were so costly and sophisticated that only the largest companies had the financial resources to afford them (not to mention the staff to operate them). Only the “big guys” were able to benefit from virtual non-stop operation of their IT infrastructure. At the time, most disaster recovery systems consisted of duplicate environments idling along with a team to manage the failover — should the need arise.  Fortunately, technology evolved, and thanks to virtualization, orchestration, deduped file systems and the cloud, true business continuity is now available within the budget of companies of any size.

To get a better idea of the difference between legacy disaster recovery and today’s DRaaS solutions, let’s examine the workflow differences between the two solutions once a failure occurs. The goal of a traditional disaster recovery solution is to allow the restoration of individual systems back to physical or virtual hardware from some type of backup. The problem with this approach is several fold:

  • It is focused on the individual systems and not the entire infrastructure. This means that all the dependencies for services necessary for the operation of restored systems are a manual process and therefore slow and prone to human error. Imagine repointing IP addresses and MX records manually after the restoration of an Exchange server.
  • It is dependent on the limitations of the availability of physical hardware or virtual systems that are largely manually configured.
  • Typically, large amounts of data are moved from backup locations to target systems to complete the restoration of failed systems. This includes: operating systems, applications, databases and data. This is always a slow process.

In the end, this all adds up to a very time-consuming and tedious process, that often requires several attempts and re-work to get everything functioning as it should.

The goal of a modern DRaaS solution is to restore the function of the entire IT infrastructure after a single or multi-system failure, while minimizing human intervention and downtime. To do this, the business continuity solution leverages several key technologies:

  • Virtualization — provides complete flexibility in deploying any scale of machine at any location which allows your business to dramatically speed recovery time in the event of a disaster, and also allows you to test multiple disaster scenarios without affecting your daily operational processes, so that you can be ready at a moment’s notice.
  • Orchestration — orchestration creates intelligent workflows to support real-time recovery of applications by understanding the dependencies of applications and systems and ensuring that each process comes back in the correct order and in a completely automated fashion.
  • Data deduplication — one of the advantages of data deduplication is the ability to replicate a reduced data set to a remote location without the same network bandwidth requirements as conventional replication. It also makes it easier for replication to occur at any time due to the small amount of data that actually has to travel between locations.
  • Cloud based resources — having the ability to spin up applications and systems remotely allows complete flexibility for your business, even in the event of your primary business location becoming completely unavailable. It also provides complete flexibility and scalability for your business because the cloud-based environment is able to instantly provision any environment your business may require.

In the end, a well designed DRaaS solution will restore the function of your entire IT infrastructure with a single click and do so in a less than 15 minutes. Traditional Disaster Recovery solutions cannot match this as they were not designed for rapid recovery of complex interconnected systems. The pace of today’s business and the complex IT infrastructures used to maintain that pace require a modern system designed to meet the challenge.

Fall 2018 Release – Infrascale DR v6.16

This Fall, we have releases for 2 of our services, Infrascale Disaster Recovery (IDR) and Infrascale Cloud Backup (ICB).

IDR v6.16 boasts quality of life improvements, key fixes and new support for VMware v6.7!

ICB v7.3 includes many fixes, performance improvements and remote management improvements for distributed networks, plus new support for Windows Server 2019 and MS SQL 2017.

Again, big thanks to our Partners, who continue to be a cornerstone of our mission to eradicate downtime and data loss for businesses of all sizes.

And of course, hats off to our Product and Dev teams for their agile performance and turn-around time!

THE HIGHLIGHTS

VMware 6.7 Support (IDR 6.16)

This is a big but easy one to describe. While most functions remained stable with the update to VMware v6.7, there were a handful of workarounds we employed for our administrators to regain full and consistent functionality. With IDR v6.16, all functionality and performance experienced with previous versions of VMware have been returned, with the added benefits of the items listed below.

Custom QEMU Commands during LocalBoot (IDR 6.16)

Like any high performance machine, it’s sometimes handy to get in and make some tweaks before hitting the road. Administrators are now able to do this with editing a config file each time by configuring custom QEMU commands to run with boot operations.

Define Client Schedules During Client Creation (IDR 6.16)

This is one of those simple but important time-savers. Rather than configuring a client, THEN going back to edit the schedule, we’ve combined these steps into a single, fluid motion.

“Legal Hold” backup/DR jobs (IDR 6.16)

Whether for a legal hold or any other reason, sometimes you just need to stop a backup from getting purged by the retention policies you have set. Administrators can now “pin” backup jobs to do exactly this. When an administrator “pins” a job, they are able to set the time-frame before the job would cycle back into the regular retention policy for that particular location (primary or secondary location).

*Note, this feature, like retention policies, are set per backup location; either primary or secondary. We note this because most services in the market require identical retention periods for replication services, but we figured we’d let you decide.

Improved Mass Deployment/Management for Cloud Backup (ICB v7.3)

We continue to find great success with our administrators using ICB to protect data at the point of data creation, rather than limiting BCDR plans to central servers. With this growing trend and major differentiation when comparing against traditional DR vendors, we’ve received many improvement requests to keep this growth going strong.

Details can be found in the table below, but there were a number of improvements to help administrators protect data across all devices for their respective businesses. This includes changes to workflows for deployment, changes to required permissions helpful when password resets are in order and difficulty in protecting personal folders when deployed with administrative credentials.

 

Full List – 

The table below contains the full release notes, and while there are too many to highlight, they add up to yet another major quality of life improvement for our techs and their customers.

Short DescriptionExplanation
FIX: Weekly appliance report could not be generatedSome customers were unable to get helpful weekly reports and would need to manually gather the information. This is no longer an issue. This bug fix saves 4-6 steps per report.
FIX: Update of Agent installed on client could no be completed due to service not stopping properlyIn this case, it would require additional steps and time for the administrator to manually stop the service before restarting the update. This bug fix saves roughly 6 steps per agent.
FIX: DR backup could fail sometimesIn some cases, a DR backup would fail, which triggers alerts and additional follow-up. The causes are varied, and most fixes were simply to re-run a backup. We’ve fixed what seems to be central to the issue, saving roughly 4-6 steps per event.
UPDATE: New technology for Browse&restore function – increased list of supported file systems, stability, multiple bug fixesSome new types of file systems could not be browsed during restore before introduction of this technology, thus we are decreasing time spent to restore one or a few files drastically – customer will not need perform restore of the whole system or mount notbrowsable disk.
UPDATE: Full support for VMware 6.7VMware 6.7 is now fully supported, whereas before, users could run into some issues here and there.
NEW: Ability to add DR schedule during creation of Client, column shown by default now in the list of ClientsBefore, these were separate steps. Setting up new clients is now 4-6 clicks shorter.
FIX: Some jobs could not be deleted by retentionRetention periods are important to reduce unnecessary usage on both the primary and secondary appliances. Now, all jobs can be removed by policies unless exempted by the “pinning” feature.
FIX: Hardware Monitoring section did not show CPU and Hard Disk information on some modelsFixed so all data shows for all models.
UPDATE: Support for local boot of DR images /VM backups of clients with disks with 32 sectors per trackWe have customers with specific models of hardware and disk geometry now they have them fully protected – we will be abel to boot them in case of DR event.
NEW: Ability to specify custom QEMU commands during LocalBootIn very specific cases local/cloud boot settings need some tweeks by support inside of the appliance, which were not persistent, with this update this specific settings can be stored without need to edit configuration files.
FIX: Automatically set correct CPU model during LocalBoot
NEW: Ability to change CPU model during LocalBoot
During a DR restore, we automatically recommend/use settings based on the machine being booted to reduce the chance of booting an a machine into an environment that will underperform while simultaneously saving time in doing so. We’ve improved this automation and extended customization of boot settings from being only available for cloud boots, to restores on the local appliance as well.
REMOVED: Autoarchive of differential and incremental levels of backups on Virtual MachineWe are treating all backups of VM as fulls, it was inconsistency and preparation step for Retention 2.0 policy (coming in 6.17)
FIX: Disabled ability to edit clients on secondary applianceRemoved the confusion with ability to edit clients on secondary – that was making no sense.
FIX: Disable visibility of Boot verification images in the list of clients in case Boot verification is turned offIf Boot verification was turned off after sometime of working it would show in sometime very old boot verification results and was disinformational to customers.
NEW: Ability to connect to appliances inside local network with https://devices.infrascale.comThis will remove steps to connect keyboard and mouse during initial setup in order to know IP adress of the Appliance – after turning on any appliance will become visible on devices.infrascale.com.
FIX: Ability to bond network interfaces on some models of appliancesNew 550 appliance had disabled some network settings as it does not have boot ability which were required to increase connection speed by bonding network interfaces.
UPD: Set “date until” to +10 years from current moment for previously pinned jobsMany compliance requirements are for the length of data retention, and the “pinned jobs” feature released earlier this year did not allow jobs to be excluded from retention policies long enough, requiring a reminder and manual adjustment of the “pin” after some amount of time.
FIX: Unable to boot VM with dynamic disks in certain circumstancesThis was a major fix for customers in this situation, as they would have to go through a much more traditional baremetal recovery process rather than a quick, easy DR recovery flow.
UPDATE: Reduce amount of storage used for performing DR backupsThis helps reduce the need to upgrade primary appliances due to the need for temporary storage of files during DR backup procedures. The temporary storage footprint is now significantly smaller. The result of not having enough space would be that backup jobs would fail, or run much more slowly and require a storage upgrade.
UPDATE: Preserve disks order during LocalBoot on Appliance on in the CloudSome VM have got a lot of number of disks and our boot process in some cases could not detect correct boot disk which lead to boot fail. We have implemented more sophisticated algorithm and number of boot failures will decrease now.
FIX: Ability to use UK keyboard layout
NEW: Ability to choose keyboard layout for locally booted machine
Keyboards aren’t all the same. The default option was the US ENGLISH QWERTY keyboard layout, and we now support the UK ENGLISH QWERTY keyboard.
UPDATE: More concise description of requirements for performing LocalBoot on Virtual ApplianceWe have removed pain, when customers were trying to boot image inside of the virtual appliance and were facing information that not enough resources are assigned in order to be able to boot – now it’s stated how much exactly memory and CPU are required.
UPDATE: Correct link to the Knowledge Base in Support tab of ApplianceInsideWe are routing customers now to maintained and updated version of Infrascale’s Knowledge Base.
FIX: Sometime VMware backup of turned off machine could failIf a VM within VMware was turned off, the backup would occassionally fail. This is common for VMs created as templates, but not regularly used.
UPD: Show user-friendly message on Browse and Restore if no data can be found.Our users where confused in some corner cases, when we could not browse the disk and show it content – we just showed empty screen, now we give friendly message about such situations.
FIX: Jobs re-imported from archive or pushed back from secondaries will not be deleted by retention at onceIn case of different retention settings on primary(short) and secondary ( longer) job restored from archive or pushed back to primary would have passed retention and deleted. Now it will be automatically pinned in order the user would be able to restore and manipulate the job.
NEW: Ability to pin particular job until some date in future“Pinning” a job excludes it from retention policies for as long as determined by the user when “pinning” a job. This is helpful in many cases: compliance, breach investigation, employee turn over, legal disputes.
FIX: Garbage Collection history now shows dataProcess of freeing space on Appliance is done during Garbage Collection – now it’s possible to see how it is working.
FIX: VMware client will show progress of backup nowReduced number of clicks in order to check how progress is working – now it is visible on all Clients.
FIX: Backup would failed of the Hyper-V guest migrated to another host
UPDATE: Stability of DR backups
UPDATE: Stability of Hyper-V backups
In general, this is a group of updates and fixes that improve the reliability and reduce the TCO when protecting Hyper-V environments as well as fixing an issue caused after Hyper-V VMs migrate to new hosts.

Previously, these issues would result in alerts/warnings that would take techs time to evaluate and resolve.

NEW: RAID status is shown on console screenMany of our administrators cited this as a big help rather than having to dig around for the info, deeper in the console. Here you go!
UPDATE: Ability to perform Linux DR backup with non-root user credentialsA lot of Linux distributive have root user deactivated now by default due to security measures, so our customers could not perform backups of such Linux machines – we opened ability to perform backup with any users credentials (after special settings are done)
UPDATE: Changed customization of replication bandwidth limitSome of our customers are not working Monday-Friday and would like to have more flexible way to customize replication bandwidth limit – now any day during week can be set to decrease speed.
FIX: Daily report will show correct restore point date in case of last backup has failedDaily report was showing not latest but first very old restore point and made confusion that no recent backups are available per machine. So now we show correct most recent restore point.
NEW: In case of appliance decomission you can securely shred all dataWe have added script in order customer would be able securely delete all data on appliance in case decommissioning.
FIX: DDFS in case of shutdown will be unmounted at once.We have changed logic of deleting files in DDFS in order to being able to unmount filesystem ot once.

 

What’s Next?

We’re on the cusp of some major changes under the hood that will result in simpler deployment steps and improved performance.

We’re also going to be announcing updated and new integrations with Connectwise Automate.

Stay tuned!

-The Infrascale Product Team

Summer 2018 Release Part 2 – Infrascale DR v6.15

Part 2 of our summer release schedule is days away! Meet IDR v6.15.

IDR v6.15 boasts quality of life improvements and key fixes. This release removes many common procedures by adding in some automation and/or shorter workflow options. We’ve estimated a reduction of roughly 20 steps across multiple, recurring scenarios, which could easily be 200-500 less tasks performed per year per IDR deployment–money in the bank.

Our ability to turn around such a quick and valuable release is due largely to our terrific community of Partners that continue to be a cornerstone of our mission to eradicate downtime and data loss for businesses of all sizes.

And of course, hats off to our Product and Dev teams for their agile performance and turn-around time!

Quality of Life Improvements

NEW: Automated, Online DDFS compact

Previously, admins would receive a warning/error from the monitoring system saying storage limits have been reached or were close to being reached.

Next, the admin would try to free up some space by deleting jobs and/or would contact support for assistance.

Support would then suggest running “compact” to free up the needed space. Doing so requires shutting down the entire appliance and could take days to complete; roughly 1 day per 1TB of freed space.

By automating the DDFS compact task to take place in the background, we’ve eliminated at least 4 steps (per occurrence) and eliminated downtime during such an event.

NEW: Ability to unlock VMware VM migration option from Appliance

Before a VMware VM is protected, we must disable the ability for a VM to be migrated to ensure the backup is successful. Sometimes, the VM doesn’t properly unlock afterwards, requiring the user to manually unlock the VM by either running another backup or going into vCenter.

While we’re still working on an automated resolution, adding an option to unlock a VM from within our system now allows an administrator to manually unlock the VM in 1 step instead of 2 or 3. We’re working to better avoid the issue altogether in later releases.

NEW: Archive Option – Ability to Pin/Unpin Jobs to be ignored by retention policies

Whether due to a hardware refresh, employee turn-over or some other event, it’s important to be able to retain specific backups despite the retention policy set for them by the client. This new “pinning” feature allows administrators to do just that.

First, a vocab review – within Infrascale IDR, a client is created by defining a retention policy and a schedule for a particular machine (virtual or physical). When a backup runs according to the configured client, that’s called a job. Jobs are stored on the primary and/or secondary for as long as the retention policy indicates.

Pinning a job will exclude it from the retention policies set for that client and will default to keeping that job indefinitely–essentially, an archival option.

For example, if you’re decommissioning a machine but you want, need, to keep a backup for it, you’d pin the jobs you want to keep before removing the client. Compliance, maintained.

This is a first step in many to add more flexibility and customization when needing exceptions at the job-level.

Important note* Like retention policies, pinning jobs is done individually for the primary and the secondary (or cloud) appliances; pinning a job on your primary will not auto-pin the same job on the secondary. Be sure to pin jobs on the appliance where you’ll want the archived job to be kept, or both.

Noteworthy

We’ve also added ‘deleting a client’ as a recorded event in audit logs and removed a few clicks from everyone’s life by adding the firmware version on the login screen in addition to the settings area. Strangely but understandably, we slowed down the initiation of a local boot with a 5 second delay so admins have time to smash into safe mode for some debug.

•    UPDATE: Audit logging – added “client deletion” as a new event

•    UPDATE: Firmware version is now visible on login screen

•    UPDATE: Added 5 second delay before localboot (to access safe mode)

•    UPDATE: Change filtering logic by dates in all grids on Appliance interface

 

BUGS SMASHED

•    FIXED: Issues restoring DR image backups with multiple disks

Introduced in 6.14, there was a reported issue wherein a second disk on a DR image backup would timeout during a restore, and we’ve squashed this out.

•    FIXED: VMware VMs that have not been powered on will not be protected

This is for all you VM templaters out there. If you upload a VM image to the VMware host, as a template, then this template VM would not be protected by our system until it was powered on. Now, admins can protect their VM templates without doing this step.

•    FIXED: Incremental Backup fails on VMware VM with a newly added disk

The workaround for this was to run a full after a new disk was added to a VM. That step is no longer needed.

•    FIXED: Hyper-V backup jobs hang/freeze

6.14 introduced new parallel processing to handle multiple jobs at one time. Some of our partners reported instances wherein Hyper-V backups would freeze and this has been resolved.

•    FIXED: Improved Replication Process

Customers may not have noticed a problem here as the job would restart where it got stuck and, at most, it would appear that a replication job took a bit longer than expected. We resolved this issue so replication jobs are more stable.

•    FIXED: False positive – failed verification status after replication

Verification of jobs would appear failed until an automated task would run after the job was completely closed. We’ve changed this verification step to instead be a part of the backup process, eliminating these false positives from alarming administrators and filling up ticketing queues (and the steps that go with closing them).

•    FIX: Hyper-V backup fails if the password had been modified

 

Not bad for less than 2 months since our last release, eh?

 

What’s Next?

Good news looking to the 6.16 release set for September/October 2018.

Key highlights for 6.16 are VMware 6.7 support and a new Super Agent with setup and configuration improvements.

Thank you!

-The Infrascale Product Team

As of April 1st, 2019, Infrascale Cloud Backup will no longer support backup of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 endpoints

As of April 1st, 2019, Infrascale Cloud Backup will no longer support backup of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 endpoints, regardless of installed version of the application. For other versions of Windows, latest updates are recommended to be installed.

Additionally, as of April 1st, 2019, Infrascale Cloud Backup will no longer support outdated application versions of desktop applications: Windows clients below v6.8 and Mac clients below 3.7.

What is happening and why?

As we release new versions of our Cloud Backup software to include additional features, better performance, and enhanced security, these versions are not always compatible with older operating systems. In fact, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April, 2014 and stopped supporting Windows Server 2003 in July 2015.

Currently, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 utilize a TLS v.1.0 protocol and 3DES, AES128 ciphers (encryption algorithms) that pose vulnerabilities. To learn more about why Microsoft is encouraging its users to update from TLS v1.0, please read this blog from Microsoft: https://blogs.microsoft.com/microsoftsecure/2017/06/20/tls-1-2-support-at-microsoft/

The Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol is intended to serve as a secure link between a client machine and the server or Web application.  While Infrascale supports a variety of other, more secure, TLS protocols, we have decided to stop supporting the TL1 v1.0 due to security concerns.

Phasing out outdated versions of our software and disabling vulnerable 3DES and AES128 ciphers allows us to strengthen the security of your data.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) advises all users to migrate to stronger ciphers: https://csrc.nist.gov/News/2017/Update-to-Current-Use-and-Deprecation-of-TDEA

Your Options

Option A (Preferred): If you are running Infrascale Cloud Backup on a Windows XP computer or with Windows Server 2003, you need to update your operating system to Windows Vista or a later version by following the instructions on Microsoft’s support site.

Option B: You can put the data on a network share thatis accessible from other computers in your network. Infrascale’s Online Backup and Recovery Manager can be installed on another computer and you can continue backing up your data from the network share.

Also please make sure that you are running the latest version of Infrascale software that can be downloaded here: https://www.infrascale.com/downloads/

If you have any questions, please email support at support@infrascale.com

Summer 2018 Release – Infrascale DR v6.14

Infrascale Disaster Recovery (IDR) version 6.14 is our big summer release, and has much to offer our customers and partners in terms of improved quality-of-life changes, security features, performance improvements and bug fixes. We’d like to start by thanking all our partners, especially those that worked with us to find solid and timely solutions to not just issues, but to overall usability improvements.

The IDR v6.14 release is scheduled for public availability July 2nd, 2018.

NEED FOR SPEED

Our partners and customers will be happy to know that, in our lab, our teams were seeing massive (up to 5X) speed improvements when protecting VMware environments with v6.14.

When protecting Hyper-V, we also saw significant performance improvements by enabling backup jobs to run in parallel (improvements will be greater for those with larger appliances protecting many smaller backup jobs versus those with fewer, but larger jobs).

In both cases, the performance improvements will allow customers to more quickly get their environments protected, which means less hassle managing network and system I/O during initial and regular backups and an chance for improved restore point objective (RPO) goals (less data loss due to more frequent backups).

QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENTS

Quality of Life (QoL) improvements make up a bulk of the line items you’ll see below in the release notes, and range from usability improvements in the GUI, to new features that allow our administrators to automate testing and verification of the integrity of backups run to time-saving additions, enjoy.

The QoL list is highlighted by the new boot verification option. This means admins can run these tests and have automated reports with screenshots of systems running to help themselves and everyone around them sleep easy knowing the system will be there for them when it counts.

In addition, there are a ton of time-savers in here like allowing administrators to perform tasks from within the secondary appliance GUI rather than having to switch to the primary, automation during initial setup and the ability to define individual disks on VMware VMs for backup rather than being limited to selecting entire VMs.

There’s a lot here, so check out the list below:

  • NEW TIME SAVER: Mass-update appliance firmware from Dashboard (for firmware after 6.14.0)
  • NEW PEACE OF MIND: Boot Verification of backup jobs (individual jobs, stay tuned for boot orchestration verification!)
  • NEW REPORTS: Daily backup reports have added clarity regarding overall daily backups and the inclusion of the new* boot verification results
  • NEW CONTROL: Ability to select specific VMWare disks within a VM to help save on local and cloud (secondary) backup space usage
  • NEW: Support of IDR 550 appliance – stayed tuned for more info on this new, little workhorse for those smaller offices
  • TIME SAVER: Auto-configure RAID during initial provisioning of appliance, no reboot required
  • TIME SAVER: Simplification of QuickStart Wizard: no “Certificate” step, Time zone/Date/Time steps are combined for easier deployment and management of multiple IDR appliances
  • TIME SAVER: Allow manual deletion of jobs from secondary appliance
  • UX IMPROVEMENT: Revisited columns in Client / Summary view based on customer feedback
  • UX IMPROVEMENT: Client/Summary shows date of last successful backup for each client
  • UX IMPROVEMENT: Number of jobs pending replication is shown in Dashboard
  • UX IMPROVEMENT: Job message logs show timestamp
  • UPDATE: Default retention for new appliances is set to 3 months
  • UPDATE: Automatically delete failed jobs after 7 days
  • UPDATE: Protected Space calculation support for various file systems, software RAID, LVM, Windows Dynamic Disks

SECURITY

Security has long been a pillar of strength here at Infrascale, and we’ve brought some previously “upon request” options straight to your finger-tips. In addition, there are additional access controls that IT teams will appreciate, including the much in-demand ability to have multiple administrative logins. Check ’em out:

  • NEW: Ability to create multiple admin accounts on appliance (command line-only)
  • NEW: Email notification on login event for administrators
  • NEW: Option to require an appliance-specific password for remote access via Dashboard (that’s 2 sets of credentials, now)
  • NEW: Option to disallow Infrascale staff from accessing secondary appliance (we’ll ping you when needed)
  • NEW: Audit logs on-demand or via daily digest emails for key events–logins, DR boots, job deletions.
  • UPDATE: Email server settings support custom SMTP port and encryption
  • UPDATE: Enable/disable remote access on Dashboard credentials entry screen (enabled by default)

BUGS KILLED

Every sprint, our teams dedicate a portion of their efforts to killing bugs, dead. Here are the bugs we smashed with 6.14:

  • FIX: Multiple stability improvements for MS Exchange backup and recovery
  • FIX: Auto-archive option is now working
  • FIX: We’ve prevented a number of VMWare errors that would be thrown during backup/restore by using dynamic buffer size
  • FIX: Rather than shutting off before the process finished, the auto-download firmware update will remain on until the appliance has been successfully setup
  • FIX: Resolved some issues with large files replicating (but failing) to a secondary appliance (or cloud)
  • FIX: Remote access and Support Tunnel stability
  • FIX: Sort devices alphabetically in Orchestration

Click here to join or view our IDR v6.14 Release Webinar.

There is still a lot of summer left, stay tuned for news on the next 6.15 release for even more improvements.

Thank you!

-The Infrascale Product Team

We put the A in ITRA

You are going to be hearing a lot about ITRA in the near future. It is a term that industry pundits devised to denote the next evolution of DRaaS. This is a new acronym that literally means Information Technology Resilience Assurance. According to the Oxford dictionary, Assurance means “a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise.” When applied to a a description for a solution, it would then follow that the word “assurance” should denote a promise of performance, but most solutions labeled as ITRA solutions today lack any promise to perform or SLA for specifying the expected performance and timeframe for full recovery.

Today, businesses want the ability to maintain acceptable service levels even in the event of severe disruptions to their applications, data and IT systems. This means not waiting around for a disaster to occur, but rather incorporating early detection of events that may lead to downtime along with automated processes to mitigate any damage and minimize their impact on uptime.  To meet the needs of the vast majority of businesses, this requires a solution that is affordable, automated and easy to use.

Infrascale takes the last letter very seriously. In fact, we believe the industry is applying the ITRA too freely and to solutions that do not really fit the definition of the term.  If you are buying assurance you want a guarantee not fluff. As the only vendor with a solution that includes a 15-Minute Failover Guarantee, we believe we put the A in ITRA.

2018 Proper Disaster Recovery Planning

The backup and disaster recovery industry has seen plenty of changes over the years, but with these changes has also come increased cost and complexity to most BDR environments. If you’re wondering why disaster recovery is so expensive and complex, you aren’t the only one. Most of us are left crossing our fingers and hoping whatever we have in place will work.

But the reality is, that every modern company depends on data and operational uptime for their survival. There are no exceptions. Because of this, IT is tasked with finding an appropriate solution, that’s cost effective, and works every time – guaranteed. This can prove to be quite a daunting task!

In order to avoid data disaster in 2018, a proper disaster recovery plan must be put in place. But protecting large data sets in a mixed environment isn’t simple or affordable with traditional DR solutions. It’s why every business thinks push-button failover is out of reach. Let’s break down the challenges of ensuring data and operational uptime, by looking at three key considerations in proper disaster recovery planning:

1. Compatibility

A proper disaster recovery plan includes a flexible solution that can meet your needs. Can it protect any OS and device? Can you store your data in any cloud? Can it be deployed as physical or virtual? These are some of the questions you want to ask in order to plan your DR strategy properly. Making sure that you find a solution compatible with your environment is a critical component.

2. Complexity

Simple is key. Push-button failover should mean exactly that – so your disaster recovery planning should allow you to failover to a second site in minutes or seconds (not hours or days). No additional IT resources needed! When considering the complexity of a solution, built-in orchestration is one of the key differentiators in DR solution providers. Proper disaster recovery planning includes failback, and it’s important to understand exactly how the solution plans to failover your applications, and then failback, in addition to how much customization and control you have in the whole orchestration process.

3. Cost

Look for a solution that is truly as-a-service, meaning no add-on charges or professional service fees. When keeping costs in mind, remember that no additional secondary site means no additional hardware costs. Planning your DR strategy with a provider who can give you a low, monthly subscription service means that everything is included — support, maintenance, unlimited testing, and hardware upgrades to name a few. A service solution provides the benefit of a single monthly subscription payment, without the unnecessary add-on fees.

Disaster recovery planning doesn’t need to make your head spin. Keep these three considerations in mind as you go about your strategy and implementation. Here at Infrascale, we minimize the risk of downtime at a price that will make your CFO smile. We allow IT to stop buying and managing disparate hardware and software to solve their DR needs. An administrative dashboard, accessible from any browser or device, makes it easy to recover mission critical applications and systems with push-button simplicity.