Geek Speak

3 Posts authored by: martezreed

Public cloud providers have greatly simplified the process of creating a backup, but the challenge has always been managing that at scale with things like policies for retention or simple granular file level restores or regulatory focused dashboards. This is the value added by many of the backup management solutions discussed in the following post and becomes critical once an environment scales past a few instances and databases.

 

The benefits of managed backup management are:

  1. Simplified Management - The backup management solutions offered by public cloud providers are generally account or subscription focused and doesn't offer a holistic view of the entire environment.
  2. Scalability - Fully managed backup and SaaS solutions have been built to scale to the largest environments without any performance impact or major concern for running out of storage space. This eliminates the need to re-architect the backup management deployment to scale with the needs of the organization for things such as keeping data for twice as long because of a new mandate.
  3. Multi-Cloud Support - Many of the legacy backup products that are available on the market only support backing up data to public cloud providers or only support backing up workloads in a single cloud provider. More and more companies are implementing multi-cloud strategies and a solution that supports multiple clouds is essential to simplifying operations.

 

Unmanaged Deployment

The following solutions are unmanaged deployments. This means that the software is available to be installed by the customer or has been packaged in the native cloud format such as an AWS AMI but is not available in one of the cloud provider's marketplace.

 

Rubrik Cloud Data Management

Rubrik Cloud Data Management is a software appliance that can be deployed to AWS, Azure and GCP. The Cloud Data Management platform supports policy based snapshot management along with advanced analytics to generate operational insights.

 

Managed Deployment

The following solutions are managed deployments. This means the backup management software company has added a deployment solution to the respective cloud provider's marketplace to allow the infrastructure to be provisioned with the click of a button.

 

Veritas CloudPoint

Veritas CloudPoint is a backup management solution that supports automated deployment into Azure but supports backing up workloads on AWS, Azure and GCP. In addition to IaaS workloads across the three major clouds CloudPoint also supports application level backups such as Microsoft SQL, MongoDB and AWS Aurora.

 

SaaS Deployment

The following solutions are Software as a Service (SaaS) deployments. This means the backup management software company hosts the software for its customers.

 

Druva Apollo

Druva Apollo is a SaaS solution that provides data protection of AWS EC2, RDS, S3, EBS, and Glacier. Druva Apollo also includes SLA-based snapshot retention policies in addition to tiering to reduce costs as older snapshots are moved to cheaper storage and eventually deleted.

 

Rubrik Polaris

Rubrik Polaris is a SaaS solution that integrates with Rubrik's Cloud Data Management hardware and software appliances to provide a unified management platform for both on-premises and cloud-based workloads.

 

CloudRanger Backup and Recovery

CloudRanger Backup and Recovery is a SaaS solution that provides backup management of AWS EC2, RDS, and Redshift instances using native AWS snapshots. Instance and file level backups are supported along with multi-region and multi-account backup restore points.

 

Fully Managed

The following solutions are fully managed backup management solutions such that the cloud provider manages backups on your behalf.

 

Built-in Snapshots

Public cloud providers allow administrators to create snapshots of virtual machine instances, databases, etc. This doesn't provide a robust feature set in terms of management but does allow administrators to backup and restore to a given point in time.

 

Backup management is an unsexy topic to most but of course has tremendous value when there is a disaster but many of the new backup management solutions are becoming much more than just creating a snapshot via the public cloud providers native snapshot APIs.

Patch management at any sort of scale has always been a mundane and time-consuming task that most administrators would like to avoid at all costs. With the proliferation of DevOps methodologies and the public cloud, the practice of immutable infrastructure has eliminated the need for patch management in the eyes of some, given the fact that there would be no long-living servers. In contrast to that notion, most environments have long-living servers that are still around and will be for the foreseeable future due to various reasons. The public cloud and DevOps are the new flavors of the month in IT for many valid reasons, but patch management is still a critical aspect of securing IT environments that can be made easier through the use of managed solutions.

 

The benefits of managed patch management are:

  1. Simplified Management -  The patch management solutions offered by cloud providers provide a single management interface to simplify operations. In addition to the proverbial single pane of glass most cloud providers provide a simplified manner in which to deploy the patch management agents to instances to help speed up deployment.
  2. Scalability - Fully managed solutions have been built to scale to the largest of environments without any performance impact. This eliminates the need to rearchitect the patch management deployment to scale with the needs of the organization.
  3. Managed Upgrades - One of the advantages of utilizing a fully managed patch management solution is the fact that the system for managing patches is automatically patched itself. This is a major win for many organizations that are already short on IT staff.

 

Managed Deployment

The following solutions are managed deployments. This means the patch management software company has added a deployment solution to the respective cloud provider's marketplace to allow the infrastructure to be provisioned with the click of a button.

 

ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus

ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus is a patch management solution that supports Windows, Linux and Mac OS endpoints. This solution is only available on AWS as a marketplace deployment option.

 

SaaS Deployment

The following solutions are Software as a Service (SaaS) deployments. This means the patch management software company hosts the software for its customers.

 

Kaseya VSA

Kaseya VSA is an RMM management platform created by Kaseya that includes patch management functionality. The patch management solution includes support for Windows, Mac OS X and 3rd party software.

 

Automox

Automox is a next generation patch management platform hosted in AWS that aims to provide a unified platform for managing patches across all environments. The patch management solution includes support for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and 3rd party software.

 

Fully Managed

The following solutions are fully managed patch management solutions such that the cloud provider manages your patch management platform on your behalf and allows engineers to focus on ensuring that instances are up-to-date with their patches.

 

AWS Systems Manager (Patch Manager)

Patch Manager is AWS' managed patch management solution that rolls up underneath AWS Systems Manager. Patch Manager supports both Linux and Windows operating systems as well as on-premises workloads.

 

Azure Automation (Update Management)

Update Management is Azure's managed patch management solution that rolls up underneath Azure Automation. Azure Automation Update Management supports both Linux and Windows operating systems.

 

Patch management for many is simply a necessary evil that often goes overlooked but has a critical impact to the security posture of all environments. Leveraging a managed solution for patch management helps to make life that much easier for administrators given that patch management doesn't provide any business value for most organizations, but it has to be done lest the organization become another headline about a security breach due to unpatched systems.

One of the biggest draws of the public cloud includes services like managed Kubernetes or server-less functions. Managed services like these enable IT organizations to consume higher-level services, which allow the IT organization to focus their efforts on opportunities to create business value from technology.

 

Configuration management tools like Chef, Puppet, and Ansible are central to modern cloud deployments. These tools enable an automated and consistent configuration of instances. This allows administrators to utilize cloud-native practices like immutable infrastructure, in which instances or servers are treated as low-value objects that can be easily recreated, as opposed to long-living servers that are carefully maintained.

 

Each of the popular configuration management tools utilize a server/agent construct in which the agent or node is managed by the configuration management server and pulls its configuration from the server. This introduces long living infrastructure in the form of the configuration management servers that must be maintained. Creating automation cookbooks or modules is challenging enough without having to provision and maintain the infrastructure required to facilitate the automation.

 

The benefits of managed configuration management are:

  1. Quickly test new versions - One of the challenges with configuration management tools is keeping up with the release cycle of the software. Utilizing a managed solution enables IT teams to quickly spin up a configuration management server and rapidly test new features with little hassle.
  2. Simplify upgrades - Once a new version of the configuration management tool has been tested and deemed production ready then the process of upgrading the server infrastructure begins. This requires a considerable amount of time and effort from the engineer. With a fully managed solution all of that time and effort is given back to the engineers.
  3. Enable isolated automation development environments - The ability to provision a production like environment along with the configuration management platform gives automation engineers an isolated environment to test their automation changes with a greater assurance that it won't break a shared environment.
  4. Scalable - Building the configuration management infrastructure that scales properly as the environment reaches thousands and tens of thousands of nodes is incredibly complex and makes things like upgrades that much more painful. The ability to utilize a single solution for ten nodes or ten thousand nodes is incredibly valuable.

 

Managed Deployment

The following solutions are managed deployments. This means the configuration management software company has added a deployment solution to the respective cloud provider's marketplace to allow the infrastructure to be provisioned with the click of a button.

 

Chef Automate

The Chef Automate platform is a configuration management platform created by Chef Software that provides an end-to-end solution for automation engineers to develop, test, and deploy their cookbooks. AWS and Azure offer a marketplace offering of a Chef Automate that can be deployed and ready to use within minutes.

 

Puppet Enterprise

Puppet Enterprise is a configuration management platform created by Puppet that provides a standard set configuration management functionality. Both AWS and Azure offer a marketplace deployment option.

 

Fully Managed

The following solutions are fully managed configuration management solutions such that the cloud provider manages your configuration management platform on your behalf and allows engineers to focus on automation cookbooks or modules.

 

AWS OpsWorks

AWS OpsWorks is a fully managed solution that completely abstracts the server infrastructure related to configuration management. This allows organizations to take full advantage of configuration management tools like Chef and Puppet without the administrative overhead of managing a server.

 

Azure Automation

Azure automation utilizes PowerShell DSC (Desired State Configuration) for managed configuration management, this fits perfectly in-line with Microsoft's vision for PowerShell to manage all things.

 

Ultimately the value proposition for configuration management tools is in the consistent automated configuration of the instances and not in managing the infrastructure to support the configuration management tools. Future posts will delve into other core operational aspects that are critical to cloud environments but in and of themselves don't provide much value.

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