Simplifying Backups with Zmanda Recovery Manager
ZRM simplifies the full or incremental recovery of lost data. Using ZMC, you select a backup set to be restored and specify a MySQL server to which to restore. If you want to verify your data manually after recovery, ZMC provides an option to shut down the MySQL server after recovery is complete.
Another option is point-in-time recovery, which lets you restore data selectively. Using the Visual Log Analyzer in ZMC, you can perform incremental recovery by specifying a given point in time or a binary log position up to which you want to recover.
To test ZRM's recovery functionality, I successfully restored the backups created from earlier tests. I also successfully restored the quick snapshot raw backup image of my million-record table to my remote MySQL server.
Even though the ZMC interface is relatively easy to understand, you may need more information about a specific ZRM feature. Fortunately, ZMC provides context-sensitive on-line documentation through the Zmanda Network. Other helpful resources include the Zmanda Wiki, forums and blogs. Zmanda's active on-line Community is helpful and responsive.
Zmanda Recovery Manager provides a robust, open and cost-effective backup and recovery solution for organizations relying on MySQL for their critical data. ZRM simplifies an otherwise intricate process of backup and recovery by managing complex open-source utilities through its Web-based console.
As with any evolving product, there always is room for improvement. Here are some of my suggestions: a smarter graphical installer that automates post-install tasks done manually today; a more sophisticated management console that enhances the user experience; snazzier graphical reports (think Google Analytics); and a ZRM virtual appliance (VM image) for easier deployment in virtualized environments.
Try out ZRM's open-source Community edition today. You'll see how effortless MySQL backup and recovery can be.
Q&A with Zmanda
We talked with Chander Kant, CEO and cofounder of Zmanda, as well as Paddy Sreenivasan, VP of Engineering and cofounder of Zmanda, about ZRM, open-source backup and growing an Open Source community.
AS: Why should customers look at Zmanda Recovery Manager and open source?
CK: Although products based on open source and open standards almost always come with lower initial cost of acquisition, the greater benefit is achieved over the life cycle of the deployment. Inherent freedom provided by open products enables IT managers to lower the cost of ongoing maintenance significantly. Let's say your organization is using an operating system that is popular today, but becomes out of favor in a few years' time. It is possible, actually probable, that a proprietary backup vendor will withdraw support for this unprofitable operating system. This would force you to make a choice between either using some ad hoc mechanism to back up that system or to replace the system with a different OS—both costly choices. Open Source communities are known to provide support for older (and sometimes obscure) platforms. Furthermore, the source code is available to compile or recompile the software for a particular operating system.
Future profitability of proprietary software vendors depends on locking in customers to their proprietary formats and components. For example, if you use proprietary backup products to write to a tape, the only way to recover data from that tape is to use the same (and in most cases, the exact version of the) product. If you were restoring from the tape seven years from now, you'd better have the specific version of the product lying around with a valid license or be ready to pay a premium price to recover your own data. In contrast, data backed up with Zmanda's products is always in an open format. Customers can recover their data even without using our products (of course, it is easier to recover if they do use our products). Also, the data can be repurposed for other applications (such as e-discovery).
AS: How did you come up with the idea of building an open-source database backup solution?
CK: We are the leading open-source backup company. For any backup company to be interesting for customers, you need a good database backup story. For us, it was a clear choice: MySQL is the leading open-source database—we had to be the core backup solution provider for MySQL.
AS: Why did you start Zmanda? How did you come up with the name?
CK: The company was founded around the Amanda open-source backup community. But we always wanted to do more than Amanda (such as our ZRM product line). So, we flipped A to Z and came up with Zmanda. Our slogan is that we are the “A to Z of Backup”.
AS: What are your plans to provide a VMware virtual image of ZRM?
CK: We are going to start offering a VM for the ZRM Community edition and see how the adoption goes. We do think it makes a lot of sense for ZRM to be shipped as a virtual appliance.
AS: Can you tell us what's on ZRM's road map?
CK: ZRM is growing in multiple directions. ZRM will be supported natively on Windows in an upcoming release. Today, you can back up MySQL running on Windows; however, you need a Linux server to run the ZRM core engine. Also, ZRM will be expanded to support MySQL-based applications, such as SugarCRM, MediaWiki and so on. So, not only will ZRM be able to back up the underlying MySQL database, but it also will be able to back up the surrounding environment—for example, a SugarCRM administrator simply can push one button for overall backup and recovery.
AS: What Linux distributions are supported by ZRM today?
PS: ZRM supports practically all RPM-based distributions. We also support other platforms like Mandriva and FreeBSD in our Community edition. Although we do not have a graphical user interface and installer for these platforms, we do provide default configurations that will allow you to do backups right away.
AS: How large and active is ZRM's community?
PS: The ZRM community is a mix of thousands of developers and end users. ZRM is written in Perl, and its architecture is plugin-based. This encourages more contributions from MySQL DBAs. Our engineers monitor forums actively, and usually you can expect a response within a day. We see thousands of downloads each month, and the community is active in suggesting features and answering questions. We have had numerous contributions from ZRM users/developers.
Users or developers from the community can become involved with Zmanda in many ways. They can contribute to the wiki, post or answer questions on our on-line forums and, of course, contribute by trying the products, providing QA feedback and patches.
AS: How often can users expect a release of ZRM Enterprise edition or the ZRM Community edition?
PS: We do a release of the Enterprise edition once every 3–4 months. Usually a release has a combination of new features, new platforms supported and bug fixes. On the other hand, the Community edition has no fixed schedule. We have done 13 (major and minor) releases in about 24 months. Critical security bugs are fixed within 24 hours.
AS: What does Zmanda expect to gain by making an open-source Community edition of ZRM freely available?
PS: We are an open-source company. We believe in bringing the best of open source to the enterprise as well as contributing to open source to make it enterprise-ready. We gain a good understanding of MySQL DBA work flows and features needed. Of course, the Community edition is the proving ground for our features. And, it helps us recruit good engineers.
We have made significant contributions to open source. Our contributions are not just in development. We maintain source trees, a bug-tracking system and documentation, and we help evangelize ZRM using Webinars, presentations, whitepapers and contributing to books.