Unified Storage Appliance Buying Guide

Monday Jul 7th 2014 by Drew Robb
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Proponents of unified data storage systems claim that their converged approach helps simplify operation.

For years, there were backup products, deduplication appliances, disaster recovery systems and a whole host of separate systems that storage managers had to cobble together. But that appears to be gradually changing.

Eric Burgener, an analyst at IDC, sees a trend underway: the introduction of unified data protection products that combine a number of data protection technologies into a single, centrally managed product.  

“Products like archive, backup, DR, and maybe failover are now being combined,” said Burgener. “That single product has to be able to cover a wide range of heterogeneous environments though - physical, virtual and cloud, Windows, Linux, Unix, disk, tape, VMware, Hyper-V (and other hypervisors) and different applications.”

He thinks the storage industry is getting to the point where standalone archive, backup, replication and failover products will eventually go away. Instead they will eventually become features of unified platforms.

Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group, has seen a lot more vendor activity in this area. As well as Purpose Built Backup Appliances (PBBAs) that act as storage targets or destination systems for backup and archiving data, he noted additional features such as compression, dedupe, storage management and replication as cropping up more regularly in new product announcements.

“There are more of these unified products coming out addressing data growth and data protection needs as well as simplifying the acquisition process, not to mention playing into the convergence themes,” said Schulz.

Dell DR Series Appliances

Dell DR Series Appliances are said to help users improve backup and recovery processes by reducing the amount of data that needs to be stored. The DR Series are 2U rack-based backup storage repositories that include block-based inline deduplication and compression technology in their operating system.

The Dell DR4100 supports NFS, CIFS, OST and RDA (Rapid Data Access) protocols. The Dell DR6000 supports all of them as well as Dell Rapid NFS and Rapid CIFS technology, which is said to speed the ingestion of file shares backed up using NFS or CIFS.  The DR Series are certified for Dell and third-party backup applications.

Paul Davis, Director of Product Management, Data Protection, Dell Software, said that the DR4100 is designed for SMBs, medium-sized enterprises and remote sites. It is available in raw capacities of 2.7, 5.4, 9, 18 and 27 TB, and can be expanded to a total of 81 TB of usable capacity (post RAID) using two Dell PowerVault MD1200 expansion shelves. The DR6000, on the other hand, is designed specifically for enterprise customers. It provides up to 180 TB of usable storage capacity. It also provides support for 4-terabyte drives resulting in improved storage density, and four MD1200 expansion shelves

The Dell DR4100 starts at a list price of $15,670 for 2.7 TB of usable capacity. The Dell DR6000 starts at a list price of $59,772 for 9TB. The license includes replication features at no additional cost and a global console that automates the management of multiple DR appliances within a network.

FalconStor Optimized Backup and Deduplication

The combo of backup and deduplication is proving popular – it’s an obvious area of convergence. Falconstor Optimized Backup and Deduplication is targeted at mid-market and enterprise-level organizations with high volumes of data, such as healthcare, government, financial services, higher education, and manufacturing.

FalconStor Optimized Backup & Deduplication is described as a unified platform that provides disk-based backup and deduplication. Christopher L Poelker, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, FalconStor Software, said it is the only solution that can scale its backup nodes independently from the deduplication repository. As such, it scales up to eight backup nodes to handle larger data sets or to meet more severe backup windows, while independently scaling up to four cluster deduplication nodes in an N+1 architecture for faster deduplication performance.

It supports the latest high-speed SAN storage protocols, including 8Gb FC and 10Gb iSCSI, and is said to achieve single-node backup speeds of 11.2 TB per hour per node, with deduplication speeds of up to 94.4 TB/hr. Poelker claims this is the fastest in the industry. Falconstor Optimized Backup and Deduplication 8.0 software sells for $ 24,161 inclusive of 12 TB’s of capacity and 3 years of maintenance and upgrades.

“Deduplication can be assigned to run inline (during backup), post-process (after backup), or concurrently (simultaneously with data ingest, after the first virtual tape is created),” said Poelker. “Deduplication can also be deactivated when it is not needed, for example when backing up images or media files.”

Looking ahead, FalconStor is soon to announce something which promises to bring together all of the elements of data management into a single, unified data management and services platform with a common user interface. 

“Unified solutions will include: migration, business continuity, protection and recovery, along with optimized backup and deduplication,” said Poelker.

Quantum Lattus Object Storage

The Lattus Object Storage appliance portfolio is for organizations that have at least 100TB of unstructured data. It sets up a cloud disk tier with embedded high-bandwidth network access. It incorporates 4 TB disk drives as part of an online disk archive that is said to improve cost per TB by 50% or more.

Lattus appliances hold almost 2 PB of raw capacity in a single rack. They can serve as primary storage (active archive) and concurrently protect the data against component failure (backup hardware and software) as well as site disaster (DR hardware and software). List price for the Lattus-D base 6-node system with 288 TB raw capacity is $200,000. List price for the 20-node Lattus-X base configuration with 960TB raw capacity is $625,000.

“The new Lattus offerings are for large capacity use cases such as video, geospatial and intelligence data,” said Mark Pastor, Archive Product Marketing Manager, Quantum. “The Lattus architecture eliminates a large part of near term investment for data protection as well as long term investment for data and storage longevity.”

EMC Data Domain DD2200

The EMC Data Domain DD2200 is a midmarket appliance that consolidates backup, deduplication, DR and archive data on a single system. The DR part comes via Data Domain Replicator software. In addition, the DD2200 supports integration with backup and enterprise applications via Boost software so backup can be centrally managed.

The DD2200 supports most backup and archive applications.  The Data Domain Data Invulnerability Architecture is also said to provide the industry’s best defense against data integrity issues by ensuring backup and archive data is recoverable and accessible throughout its life cycle on the system.  Pricing of the DD2200 starts at $20,000.

“Users need to move to a consolidated protection storage platform that is software agnostic and integrates with enterprise applications—avoiding the proliferation of ‘accidental architectures’ (i.e. unnecessary and costly data protection infrastructure silos),” said Caitlin Gordon, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Data Protection and Availability Division.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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