Mr Backup’s Modern Data Protection is a great reference book

Book Review

W. Curtis Preston, or “Mr Backup” as he is sometimes known because he has encyclopaedic knowledge of data protection matters, has written “Modern Data Protection — Ensuring Recoverability of all Modern Workloads”, a book about backup and restores. It consists of 363 pages of condensed and readable information.

Data protection is a headache-inducing topic because it covers so much ground. Once upon a time, the answer to “how-do-I-backup-stuff?” was backup virtual machines and use Commvault, Dell EMC, Veeam or Veritas and you were basically okay — but then things became complicated.

The complicating rot started with the public cloud, extended to SaaS application providers like Salesforce, and then went bananas with containerised applications and backup-as-a-service. All of a sudden the backup sources multiplied and the backup targets did likewise. 

Should you put vSphere VM backups in the cloud? Should you restore them back to the on-premises world, or to VMware in the cloud, or some other hypervisor’s VM format? Problems, problems.

There was a drastic realisation every public cloud application user suffered; AWS, Azure and Google did not protect their data. It was up to the cloud customer to protect their data. Oops.

Where should you put the backed up data? In S3, in Glacier? In Glacier Deep Archive? 

Entering the world of Kubernetes-orchestrated containers generated yet more data protection problems. At least there was a common CSI structure, but you could run containers in VMs, with VMware’s Tanzu. Err, where should restored containers go, and should containerised backups be app-aware instead of container-centric?

The transition to having backup provided as-a-service from the cloud is another complicating factor.

Who is it for?

Writing as a storage journalist, one of my problems is understanding a data protection supplier’s technology and locating it in the technology and market landscapes. Curtis’s book solves that problem very quickly. I just turn to the relevant section in the appropriate chapter and get an instant background education about the topic of interest.

Kubernetes application’s container metadata? Check. Volume Shadow Services? Check. Continuous data protection? Check. It hasn’t let me down yet. I imagine this book would be an enormously useful reference backgrounder for any data protection specialist — whether an experienced one looking to find out about protecting cloud-native applications, or a newish one needing to widen their understanding.

It is an excellent book, widespread in its coverage, detailed where it has to be, and using examples that we can all understand. Buy it.

  • Publisher: O’Reilly
  • ISBN-10: 1492094056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492094050