Microsoft recently announced Azure’s Ultra SSD storage tier. It boasts 160,000 IOPS/disk with a throughput of 2,000 MBytes per second. Clearly, Microsoft designed this for enterprises running critical workloads such as SAP HANA in the Azure cloud, which require very high performance. Best of all, you can start small and grow storage performance based on your current needs and expected growth.
Backup & Recovery of Apps using Ultra SSD
Critical workloads require enterprise-grade backup and recovery in the Azure cloud. Ideally, you would want a solution that can perform application consistent backups in an incremental forever manner and thus avoiding recurring full backups. And you would also want instant recovery, in minutes.
Even better if the backup can be stored on Ultra SSD and reused to provision database thin-clones for Dev, QA, UAT, and Analytics users.
Database Cloning using Ultra SSD
Let’s assume that an enterprise wants to deliver 10 copies of a 1 TB HANA database, in just minutes, without consuming any extra storage. To spice it up, let’s also assume that the HANA DB happens to store Social Security Numbers (SSN) of 350 Million people in the United States. Clearly, the SSN needs to be masked before the 10 analysts lay their hands on the 10 private DB clones.
Masking 350 million records requires you to bulk-load a subset of records into memory; run the masking algorithm to hide the SSNs and then bulk-update the records back to the database. Rinse-repeat this process. Assume that each IO corresponds to one SSN record in the database. Since Ultra SSD can handle 160,000 IOs per second, the number of seconds to handle 350 Million SSN records = 350 Million / 160,000; i.e. 36 minutes.
Once the SSNs are masked, you need to create 10 copies of this updated 1TB database. But creating 10 physical copies is expensive both in terms of time and storage consumption.
A better approach would be to use a database cloning solution that allows you to leverage the backup copy stored in Ultra SSD to provision 10 thin-clones to the analysts. The thin-clones would be provisioned in just minutes without consuming any extra storage.
Thus, each analyst gets a private read-write enabled thin-clone database to run their own queries and they can also change records without impacting any other analyst.
What about costs? Assume that with provisioned IOPS, the cost per TB per month is $200. Instead of spending $200 x 10 physical copies = $2,000 per month, with the 10 thin-clones you spend only $200 per month in addition to a few extra dollars for any changes made to the thin-clones.
Sounds impossible? Actifio is the only solution that can do application consistent incremental forever backup, instant recovery, and self-service database cloning by leveraging Azure Ultra SSD today…
While Actifio could have provisioned thin-clones using any storage tier in Azure cloud, including even Azure blob storage, the beauty of Ultra SSD is the performance. In the above example, the masking of 350 Million records was accomplished in a record 36 minutes because of the high performance of Ultra SSD disks at 160,000 IOPS. A 10,000 IOPS storage tier would have taken 8+ hours.
What if you have 1 billion records and want to mask that data in the same duration, 36 minutes? No problem. Just attach 6 Ultra SSD disks and store the data on a striped volume of all the 6 disks. Voila, you can mask 1 billion records in 36 minutes.
We live in exciting times. Cloud gives tremendous flexibility in multiple dimensions: Costs, subscription period, compute, memory, storage, network. The addition of the Ultra SSD storage tier gives enterprises a new option when running high performance demanding workloads in Azure. Ultra SSD also benefits innovative products like Actifio Sky in Azure and delivers dramatically accelerated backup, instant recovery, and instant cloning of applications in the cloud.
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