Big Data = Big Advancements in Technology

Wednesday, 12 August 2015 by Jennifer Duits

There have been some big developments surrounding enterprise storage and management of big data within the last few years.Examples are: virtualisation and Software Defined Storage (SDS) lowering the hardware cost of storage, ISO standards for cloud storage adding trust to the cloud, hybrid storage for speed, and the list goes on. The issue that enterprise storage manufacturers and managers alike have realised is that the amount of data is constantly  growing at alarming rates. Due to that realisation, new solutions are also being developed and launched to manage that “Big Data.” The questions our engineers are asked every day is “What happens when Big Data is lost?” and with all of the new developments in data storage “How do you keep up with the new data storage solutions?” Recently, we have made some big advancements of our own.  The following are a couple examples of data recoveries from the highly-evolving world of enterprise storage.

Virtual Rebuild

The data from four Dell PowerEdge™ servers running VMware ESX that were connected to a Dell EqualLogic™ PS6210XV SAN at a government institution was maliciously deleted by a former employee.  The ex-employee managed to delete two VMFS volumes from the SAN that contained 40 virtual machines. The EqualLogic recycle bin had also been emptied and there were no backups created for this data. The client sent all of the media to Ontrack for recovery.

The configuration of this specific EqualLogic SAN was unique which presented a challenge for the Ontrack engineering team.  The data recovery engineers imaged all of the drives and virtually rebuilt the EqualLogic member. Due to the unique configuration of this EqualLogic SAN, the development team worked quickly to develop a new set of tools to decode the map and volume information. With the use of the new tools, the engineering team was able to virtually rebuild the EqualLogic volumes and the VMFS volumes. Then they validated the integrity of the virtual machine and SQL data. Finally, the virtual disks were extracted to new media and returned to the customer. This entire recovery, from the time Ontrack received the media to the time it was sent back to the customer, only took two days.

Four Million Files Lost!

A large pharmaceutical company lost approximately four million files of highly critical research and development data stored on an EMC® Isilon® IQ 6000x. The Isilon system is specially designed for storing big data with a unique files system (OneFS) and has easy storage management. The Isilon IQ 6000x consisted of four nodes with 15 TB of data storage in total with 48 - 500 gigabyte hard drives installed. While moving data within the system, one of the four nodes experience a kernel panic and several disks showed multiple errors. EMC was able to gather most of the files with a rebuild before a consistency check showed that several disks had errors and the rebuild was likely to have not finished correctly. Ontrack was brought in to analyse the file system and find out how the data was laid out in the whole storage system.

Ontrack’s R&D department was called in to develop a brand new set of tools unique to the OneFS. With these tools, an existing OneFS volume can be quickly analysed and missing or faulty data file structures can be uncovered. Now that the information was gathered on how the data structure of the Isilon system was setup, the engineers were finally able to rebuild and recover the missing data. Almost all of the four million files were recovered. Only a couple remained lost dues to damaged encryption. The research was saved and the client was extremely happy.

And more…

As new developments in enterprise data storage and the management of big data happen every day, so do the advancements in data recovery from these new technologies. Ontrack’s engineering and R&D teams are constantly working on new solutions to data loss in Enterprise Storage systems.