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Veritas NetBackup provides Docker container backup

A new NetBackup client enables users to back up application data on Docker containers, becoming one of the few products to offer data backup and recovery in the container space.

Veritas has added data protection for containerized applications, apparently because NetBackup customers were persistent enough in requesting it.

The NetBackup client for containerized applications is a free download for customers using NetBackup 8.1 or later. The client will provide Docker container backup and is also available from the Docker Store.

These are still early days for protecting application data in containers. Early on, containerized applications rarely created or modified data that would be accessed later. But that is changing as containers become more popular and start to include persistent data.

Renee Carlisle, senior principal product manager at Veritas, said 50% to 75% of NetBackup customers use containers. She said demand for a containerized version of NetBackup picked up around the middle of 2018, and Veritas rolled out a beta version of Docker container backup last November.

Carlisle said Veritas considers containers the "next big horizon" and can have a similar impact on data protection as virtual machines (VMs) and the cloud.

"Containers are definitely making the shift to having persistent storage. Customers are taking that from dev tasks and trying to move it into production," Carlisle said. "But as part of a production environment, customers need to protect the critical data that's associated with those containers. We started seeing a lot of demand for it."

screenshot of NetBackup client
Veritas added a Docker NetBackup client.

Will containers replace VMs?

Edwin Yuen, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said he doesn't see containers replacing VMs anytime soon. He believes IT architects are still working out the practical uses and best applications for containers.

As part of a production environment, customers need to protect the critical data that's associated with those containers.
Renee Carlislesenior principal product manager, Veritas

"There is a bit of a schism about the purpose of containers," Yuen said. On one side are people who still view Docker containers as purely stateless. On the other, there are IT architects who view them as lighter, portable VMs.

"If you're stateless, you don't worry about a lot of the things we traditionally worry about from an infrastructure point of view: backup, availability, resiliency, security scanning, et cetera," he said.

Yuen added that if container applications are being used to create and modify persistent data -- essentially serving as thinner VMs that don't need an operating system installed on them -- there's incentive for Docker container backup.

How NetBackup container protection works

The NetBackup Client Container protects application data stored on persistent volumes or by using a staging area. It uses NetBackup's policy structure to run backups on the container data, and takes advantage of Kubernetes container orchestration to run inside an application pod or protect an entire node or cluster.

Users can deploy a NetBackup Client Container as a sidecar container inside a Kubernetes pod on the node where the application is running. Or, if application owners do not want to use the NetBackup Client Container image inside their pods, they can deploy one client for a Kubernetes node or an entire cluster.

Another approach is to move application data to a dump volume in a staging area, and have NetBackup sweep the dump volume periodically.

Beginning of a trend

Veritas appears ahead of the curve for protecting data in containers with NetBackup, the backup software market leader. But Yuen said other vendors are working on backup for containerized applications.

"I think the vendors that are getting into it are doing it because there's demand for it, whether it's the proper use of containers or not," Yuen said.

However, he believes that demand is borne more out of interest in the technology than out of an operational demand.

"It's not like people have thousands and thousands of containers and suddenly realized they need to protect them," Yuen said.

Regardless of how much it's needed now, Yuen expects a lot of movement around Docker container backup and other container protection in the coming months.

"The weird thing is, most containers right now execute inside a VM, so you're not getting as many of the advantages as you'd get from shifting away from VMs," Yuen said. "It is a very confusing space right now, but people are making their moves."

Next Steps

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