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In October 2015, Sungard Availability Services | Labs released our Enhanced Snapshots (ES) tool on GitHub and subsequently two releases of the tool were released on the AWS Marketplace, making it even easier to deploy to your AWS environment. We are pleased to announce that an updated version (V3.0) of the tool was just released on the AWS Marketplace, making it more flexible and high performing and adding enterprise-ready integration features.  The key new features include Single sign-on, Event notifications, parallel processing of multiple backup, recovery tasks and additional operational settings.

Let’s step back for a minute. Why use Enhanced Snapshots? AWS already provides snapshot capabilities, right? Why am I suggesting you add an extra tool to your AWS environment? Because this tool’s benefits over AWS’ manual snapshot capability includes significant cost savings, efficiency in storage by using compression and deduplication, automated scheduling, and increased IT efficiencies. On top of that, it’s also open source.

How does Enhanced Snapshots work?

Using the standard AWS service features, snapshots are taken for volumes and optionally tagged with details about the data. Completed manually through the Enhanced Snapshots console, or by a scheduled job, this process must be set up to ensure the backup happens at the required frequencies. And, this is the case for just one EBS volume. Imagine the scenario with a large number of EBS volumes that require backup and management.

The tool is a cost-effective solution offered as open source software, and bundles the powerful compression and deduplication SDFS solution from OpenDedup.

The combination of the automated facilities and the low-cost backup facilities helps to reduce costs incurred for labor and AWS resources.

Advantages of Sungard AS’ AWS Enhanced Snapshots

  • Managed backup and recovery solution provides better control of AWS resources
  • Ability to run multiple backup and recovery tasks in parallel
  • Maintains the most recent EBS standard snapshot for the fastest possible restore time.
  • Significant cost reduction, as only the most recent snapshot is maintained as the normal EBS snapshot cost (current us-east-1 cost is $.0.05/GB-month of data stored).  All other snapshots are compressed, deduped and stored at normal S3 (Standard Storage) cost (current us-east-1 is $0.023/GB-month).
  • Compression and deduplication storage space savings ranging from 40% to 90%, depending on the amount of data stored on a volume, the type of the data, and its uniqueness
  • Reduced labor costs by using the scheduling feature to automate the backup process.
  • Further savings with retention policies which remove the outdated AWS resources and reduce labor costs involved in managing those resources.
  • Single sign-on (SSO) features with the ability to integrate with the Enterprise directory for user authentication
  • Event notifications from the snapshots tool on various processes
  • Flexible operational settings to improvise performance
  • Labor savings which continue to grow as the number of EBS volumes to manage by Enhanced Snapshots grows
  • Software which is open source, free and agent-less, avoiding the cost and complications of similar snapshot and deduplication tools

Backing up our claims

That’s a long list of advantages. How can we prove them? First, restoring data is one of the pillars Sungard Availability Services was built upon. We have been storing, securing and recovering our customers’ data for more than 35 years. When we started working on AWS and saw their out-of-the-box functionality, we knew we had the expertise to improve the existing functionality.

Second, and most importantly, we did the testing to prove it.

Cost comparison for a standard use case

Tests are conducted with 20GB volumes. They start with 40GB data and increase daily by 10% up to 100GB. This use case is like testing a daily backup with a retention period of 14 days. Log data from Sysdig and SDFS tools was used to generate the data for testing. Unique blocks stored after compression equaled the actual space used in the S3 bucket and not the actual size of the volume.

Additional baseline information about the comparison

  • For cost comparison, we used a sample scenario of 20 EBS volumes, each with 100GB backed up daily with a change rate of 10%. The costs are calculated using the AWS Calculator and by referring https://aws.amazon.com/ebs/pricing/.
  • Testing standards, unless otherwise mentioned:
    • EBS volume type of “gp2” is used for the comparisons
    • US Dollars ($) charges for the us-east-1 region
    • Time measurements are based on testing in us-east-1 region
  • Table below uses some general attributes used by managed backup and recovery solution to compare the standard AWS’s out-of-the-box EBS backup feature versus using Enhanced Snapshots.

Table 1: Comparison Between General Attributes of AWS’ EBS Backups & Enhanced Snapshots

Table 2: Use Case Comparison – 100GB Growing at 10% / Day for 14 Days

Based on the data backup and retention of up to 14 days.

Conclusion

In summary, employing a managed and automated backup and recovery tool like Enhanced Snapshots is a cost-effective solution. It can help reduce infrastructure costs for protecting data, as well as reducing the labor costs for managing protected data. Software is offered as open source and agent-less, which makes it simpler and more cost-effective when compared to other software products/solutions in this space.

Currently a CTO Architect with Sungard Availability Services, I have over 28 years of IT experience including full life cycle application delivery, consulting services, Technical project management and solutions architecture. As a cross sector cross platform architect had exposure to many IT technologies through its evolution and worked with a number of enterprise clients.


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