The term “workload” is often tossed around but doesn’t have clear connotations within clouds and virtualized infrastructure. We use it a lot at Trilio, though — both in our marketing and in our technical presentations — so we thought it’d be worth some explanation. Here’s what we are referring to when we talk about cloud “workloads” and how it’s pertinent in the world of cloud workload protection and recovery.

Defining “Cloud Workloads”

Typically, a “workload” refers to a discrete amount of work that’s running in a cloud instance. In the world of cloud computing, it most often refers to a grouping of virtual machines (VMs) within a tenant environment. These workloads are typically self-contained and share policies that span across the VM grouping, but are specific to that tenant environment.

The Shift From VMs to Workloads

When VMs first appeared on the scene, it seemed like they were a gift from the gods. They enabled a level of hardware efficiency that was previously unmatched.

But as the infrastructure virtualization market has continued to evolve, the need for easy scalability and tenant-based access roles demanded a new architecture. Workloads fill this gap.

Cloud workloads are easy to scale and multi-tenant, allowing IT administrators to differentiate between different department or company user environments. This not only enables custom policy creation for each tenant,  but facilitates chargeback since each workload grouping can be tracked and measured as an independent tenant environment.

Why VM-Based Backups Are Insufficient

The structure of cloud workloads represent a bit of a departure from the VM-centric technology of yesteryear. Scale-out is one of the most sought-after features of cloud workloads. Subsequently, applications running in the cloud have expanded far past the boundaries of a single VM.

For these reasons, the term workload must be redefined to include groupings of VMs organized into a tenant environment. These workloads share policies and rules to facilitate easier management, but that metadata is not stored at the VM level. In this case, applications now must be backed up by corralling the group of VMs that make up that “service.” When this does not happen and only VMs are backed up, those critical configurations are lost.

Unfortunately, virtual machines (VMs) are the dominant backup component in data protection. Legacy backup solutions have adapted their file-based backup to capture VM data, but have not yet evolved to capture a higher-order increment.

In the case of cloud environments, this approach leaves a great deal of critical metadata lost and uncaptured. A given cloud can include hundreds or thousands of tenants, each with their own unique network configurations, policies, and provisioned users. In the event of an incident, VM-only recovery would restore a fragmented environment without any access and policy partitions between environments, leaving the cloud administrator with a great deal of risk as well as manual configurations to restore.

Cloud Workload Protection with TrilioVault

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence — so data recovery must be simple and fast. TrilioVault makes it easy for administrators and tenants to restore a point-in-time backup to its original location or to a new one. With Trilio, an administrator can test and restore an application during an outage rather than pulling in a team of administrators to orchestrate the recovery process. Similarly, test and development teams can create a copy, refresh, or retire an application — without waiting for lengthy approval cycles. Each tenant has the flexibility to restore their entire tenant environment, or only the VMs and workloads they need.

Only TrilioVault captures complete cloud workloads:

  • Applications
  • Operating system
  • Network configuration
  • Networks & subnets
  • Storage volumes
  • Security groups & users
  • VMs (single & multiple)
  • Metadata & data

Restore Individual Volumes, Workloads, or Files

TrilioVault provides enormous flexibility when restoring their backups, letting administrators and tenants granularly mount and restore only the files or VMs they need.

  • Virtual Machines: Restore complete environments in one click, or selectively choose VMs and specify where they are restored (including the instance, availability zone, network, volume types, and flavor).
  • Volumes: Restore corrupted or damaged volumes with a point-in-time snapshot.
  • Files/Folders: Search any range of snapshots for named files to quickly identify when a file or folder was still present, then mount a snapshot and recover. You can also leverage third-party applications like Kroll to restore application objects.

Total Environment Restore

When too much is lost, the fastest way to recover is to start over: delete any remaining VMs in production and recreate everything from scratch. TrilioVault makes it easy to restore an environment back to its original location in one click, with minimal user input.

All workload instances are recreated using the exact settings at time of backup — in the same availability zone, using the original instance flavor, network/subnet, volume types, security groups and IP addresses, and (of course) the original data. TrilioVault verifies that none of the original VMs exist before launching this process.

These backups can also be restored to a new cloud, an alternate tenant environment, or a new availability zone.

Katie Lyon

Author Katie Lyon

Director of Marketing

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