An extra level of protection from Protect.

It seems like quite a while since I’ve written a blog piece, but I’ve been galvanised into action by some new features that were introduced into Protect 8.1.5 while I recently spent some time away from work…

Spectrum Protect 8.1.5 will now detect “suspicious activity” in your clients. Or to put it more simply – Protect will help to protect you against ransomware attacks as they start. That is the period where the ransomware is quietly encrypting away and spreading over your network but is still un-noticed by your production users.

security notifications

To achieve this Protect will now notify you in the Operations Centre overview screen and in a new Security Notification screen of in-expected changes to various metrics. The metrics are tracked, averaged over time and include increase/decrease of the amount of data/number of files being backed up and decreases in the dedupe ratio. These all being indicative of something making changes en-masse to the underlying filesystem. You can configure the server to email your server team or application owners directly if their servers have warnings pop up against them.

Pretty cool huh?

You can see a short video by Tricia Jiang here:

Spectrum Protect Plus 10.1.1

It’s been out a little while now and it’s about time I said something about Spectrum Protect Plus 10.1.1. The new release has had a large dump of new features liberally spread across it, building a more compelling solution on top of the initial 10.1.0 release.

Top amongst these features is greatly enhanced MS SQL Server support and the addition of Oracle Support. However unlike many of the other similar products on the market SPP is differentiating itself here. The support for MSSQL and Oracle is not tied to VMs, it’s for physical machines and even clusters as well. Agentless (or rather – you don’t have to manually install an agent), with progressive incremental backups, instant restores, including point-in-time restores and data re-use features.

vSnap replication is another new addition of note, which now allows for replication of images between two vSnap servers. This is combined with a new concept of “sites” which allows different vSnaps to be assigned to a “site” allowing a more easy visualisation of the infrastructure. Replicating from Prod to DR, being more conceptually easy than between two different server names.

A key strength in the new replication system is that the frequency can be as low as 5 minutes, allowing for high frequency, short retention backups to be moved over to DR. This effectively replaces the hypervisor to hypervisor VM replication features in a number of similar products with a true backup. The backed up VM can be started at the remote site with an instant restore. Instant restore being the expected default for SPP restore operations.

More information can be found here:

A free trial version can be downloaded here:

So what is Spectrum NAS?

Ok, so what is Spectrum NAS? Where does it fit into the Spectrum Software Defined Storage Portfolio? What makes it different from my hardware NAS? Why should I care?

What is Spectrum NAS?

Spectrum NAS is a newly announced scale-out, software defined NAS system, which runs on bare metal “storage rich” x86 servers, or as virtual appliances on various different hypervisors. The system provides NFS and CIFS/SMB file shares with all the usual directory integration.


Where does it fit in the Spectrum SDS Portfolio?

It’s become apparent that the Spectrum SDS Portfolio didn’t really do simple NAS in the way in which customers want it. Sure, if you want to have a globally distributed single name-space, running a bajillion different protocols across tens of thousands of nodes, Spectrum Scale is better than anything else on the market, but Scale doesn’t really play nicely as a simple NAS environment. Of course, it’s good at NAS protocols, NFS, SMB, etc.  but they’re really targeted as large data stores with archival or HPC types of use cases, rather than file/home directory type storage. Spectrum NAS is therefore targeted at customers who wish to have a simple to configure and maintain NAS, but one which is highly functional, while also scaling up to customers such as service providers, who are in need of similarly simple hands-off NAS at massive scale, for their customers’ multiple different use cases.


What makes it different from my hardware NAS?

Spectrum NAS is different to the NAS implementations you’ve dealt with before. IBM haven’t just implemented SAMBA over the top of some shonky FOSS scale-out filesystem. This is an entirely new product. The SMB support, for instance, implements 89% of the protocol specification, compared with Microsoft’s 91% and SAMBA at somewhere below 50%.

Spectrum NAS can tolerate failure without requiring connections to be re-made, it is not a bog standard dual controller failover system. No loss of communications to critical applications, in the event of a trivial failure of network or node.

Spectrum NAS implements true erasure coding, for hardware redundancy. You can even select your preferred level of erasure coding, rather than being stuck with a one-size fists all enforced EC level.

Available bandwidth as well as storage scale as new nodes are added.

Spectrum NAS can upgrade hardware seamlessly without the requirement to restart or replicate to another system. New nodes can be brought into the cluster and old ones ejected for smooth upgrades.

Crucially though – This is a NAS where you’re not trapped with a hardware vendor – you can buy the hardware from whoever you want and mix and match as you desire!

Spectrum NAS is not just made for bog standard file serving, you can also run hypervisors’ VMs from it and sophisticated applications such as Exchange or MSSQL have the protocol features they need.


Why should I care?

Spectrum NAS is not just another gateway in front of an object store, or a monolithic array which can form a cluster with other monolithic arrays, it’s a fully featured, fully software defined NAS. You can buy what you want, when you want it and scale linearly with excellent support for many different NAS use cases.


More information can be found here: