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What's new in Alike v3.0.1

Date Added August 20, 2013

Please note: This article is specific to Alike v3.0.1.

Alike v3.0.1 is considered a maintenance release, which means that no significant new features have been added.  Rather it is a rollup of various bugfixes and improvements.  Below will highlight some of the more significant enhancements and bugfixes.  Please note that this list does not include all fixed issues.

Improved ADS design
The most notable change in v3.0.1 is that of the ADS (Alike DataStore) itself.  The old 'blocks' folder (aka. block cache, FSIndex) has been deprecated.  The elimination of this component allows for very dramatic improvements in various maintenance tasks, such as an ADS move.  It also makes it vastly simpler to archive your ADS entirely to tape.

Other pleasant side benefits from this change should be a significant improvement in initial backups of your VMs.  This is due to a sizable reduction in the number of I/O calls that are made during the backup processing (munge) phase.  Customers with lower-end or over-burdened storage devices for the ADS have reported initial backup times dropping from many hours, to a half hour or less.  Subsequent backups of VMs are similarly improved, but thanks to the global de-duplication process, I/O overhead was already minimal.

Lastly, the new ADS architecture has reduced or eliminated a significant amount of locking under the hood.  This means that many processes which previously had to be mutually exclusive (purge and backups, for example), can now run simultaneously.  This means that you no longer need to make a choice between any two operations, and Alike should maintain itself relatively smoothly in all circumstances.

Alike Free license key
Alike's installer has received numerous improvements, including a change to require a license key for the Alike Free edition. This change was introduced to help reduce confusion between the Alike Free edition and our Alike Standard/DR trials.  Now, by requiring the application of a key (free, trial or perpetual), it will be obvious which installation type is desired.

Alike Manager (UI) performance and usability enhancements
The Alike Manager enjoyed some improvements under the hood as well, which should significantly improve its responsiveness, especially with larger environments.  This should be noticed during startup, as well as navigating between the Activity and Explorer tabs.

In addition, other visual improvements were made to enhance the user experience and make various tasks more explicit (eg, the activity 'swirl' icon displays a progress %, context menus have intuitive icons, etc).

Significant improvements to background deletion and storage reclaim
Historically, the storage reclaim process can be one of the most lengthy procedures that Alike can perform.  While this is still true, the new reclaim process, combined with the changes to the ADS architecture, should now cut the reclaim process to a fraction of the time it previously required.   So, the need for a Storage Reclaim job should still be rare, but when it is run, it should be much more pleasant.

The background delete/purge process has also been greatly sped up.  In the past, the purge process was locked out by backups, restores and vault jobs, which could squeeze the amount of time available for it to do its work.  Now, in addition to improving its performance, it is also able to run at all times, with the exception of a Storage Reclaim job.  This should reduce or eliminate any backlogged purge situations previously experienced in some environments.

Significant Bugfixes in v3.0.1

File  Level Restore
The new, faster File Level Restore feature has largely been stabilized.  Conflicts with mapped drives in other sessions have been eliminated, and it now correctly functions on all platforms.

Q-Hybrid Replication resiliency
Q-Hybrid replication jobs resistance and response to network interruptions, latency and other bad things that happen on normal networks has been greatly improved.  Jobs should no longer error with a "232" error unless there is a significant networking 'event' to cause it.

Q-Hybrid BCD boot option
Q-Hybrid restores and replicas will now have their BCD entries a bit more clearly stated.  Previously, the entry 'Alike Restore' was automatically created and inserted as the default option.  This caused confusion and even concern, as its purpose was unclear, and its name was even less so.  So now, the BCD entry has been renamed to 'Alike Safe Recovery Mode', and is no longer the default option.  Its purpose is simply to boot your restore with all logging and hardware detection enabled to avoid any complications during a restore, although it is rarely actually needed.

Q-Hybrid Replication metainfo correctly preserved
Q-Hybrid based replication jobs now properly preserve the Xen metainfo, allowing the PV drivers to correctly be applied.

Offsite Vaulted versions are now properly deleted during normal retention enforcement
A bug was fixed for the automatic deletion of offsite backup versions.  Previously only manual deletion functioned properly.

Advanced Retention (GFS) information properly preserved for Recovery Installs
Alike v3.0 failed to properly archive the GFS configurations for a recovery install to use, and this has been corrected.

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