EMC battles rogue backups

EMC is providing new controls that will allow its storage systems to handle backup, archiving and disaster recovery

With a new set of hardware and software releases, EMC is promising to simplify its customers' storage infrastructure by combining different types of operation into a single EMC system.

"We see this convergence of storage with modern systems, where you can think about backup, archiving and disaster recovery as an integrated process, rather than three separate processes," said David Goulden, president and chief operating officer of EMC.

On Wednesday, the company will unveil a new midrange tier of Data Domain storage systems, updates to its Avamar and NetWorker backup software, and an update to its Mozy data storage service. The updates are part of a new approach to storage EMC is developing, one it says will allow its customers to use their primary storage systems to execute backup, archiving and disaster recovery functions as well.

"You can't just keep backing up data the way you did before. You need more intelligence in the backup system," Goulden said. "Backup software is moving up a level, and is becoming more of a catalogue and journaling of all the things in the protection storage tier."

When it comes to storage, many organizations have what Goulden calls an "accidental architecture." Part of the problem stems from how organizations run their backup networks separately from their storage networks, Goulden said. The backup systems have their own policies about when they back up material and how quickly they provide a copy when the original is compromised.

Many program managers have opted to create their own backup systems, either in the cloud or using an additional on-premise system. As a result, many organizations have, in effect, rogue backup systems that can drive up IT costs and potentially create architectural complexity and security issues.

EMC's pitch is to integrate the backup and archiving functions within the storage infrastructure itself, rather than to run each as a stand-alone system, Goulden explained.

Most organizations have used EMC storage for their primary storage. The company is now working to provide controls for widely used third-party applications that would allow administrators to manage backups from directly within the applications themselves.

"We see that traditional backup industry transitioning. Backup is becoming a feature, not a product," Goulden said.

As part of this week's launch, EMC has introduced the Data Domain DD2500, DD4200, DD4500 and DD7200 systems. For this set of Data Domain releases, EMC has developed plug-ins for SAP HANA and Oracle Exadata systems that would offer administrators of these programs the option of backing them up to Data Domain. The company has also created integration points with archiving applications from OpenText, IBM and Dell.

While tape backups are often seen as a less expensive alternative to disks, Goulden argued that disk-based systems can bring a return on the additional investment. Data Domain systems, for instance, have deduplication technologies that can cut storage requirements by as much as 30 percent. An organization can also use the disk backups as the basis of a disaster recovery system, which would eliminate the cost of running a separate system for that functionality, Goulden said.

Overall, the new systems are four times as fast and 10 times as scalable as the midrange EMC platforms they replace, according to the company. A DD7200 system can serve up to 26 terabytes per hour using the company's DD Boost protocol. The system can store up to 428 terabytes, or 1.7 petabytes in a clustered configuration. These systems can support up to 540 data streams, a threefold increase from earlier iterations. Overall, they provide a 38 percent lower cost per gigabyte, EMC claims.

EMC has sold more than 36,000 Data Domain systems since its launch in 2003, the company said.

The new version of EMC's Avamar software product brings new backup capabilities to virtualized environments. A new feature in Avamar 7, VM Instant Access, allows a VMware-based virtual machine (VM) to be booted from an EMC Data Domain system in under two minutes. It also now offers a VMware vSphere client so that administrators can back up their VMs directly from the VMware management console. Avamar can also now back up Isilon network-attached storage (NAS) arrays.

The EMC NetWorker backup and recovery software has been updated as well. NetWorker can now deliver backups to Data Domain systems through Fibre Channel, cutting the time of backing up material by potentially as much as 50 percent. Restoring data can be made two-and-a-half times as fast with this setup as well. Version 8.1 comes with a new Wizard-style interface.

EMC acquired both Avamar and NetWorker technologies in separate company purchases: Avamar in 2006 and Legato in 2003. Over time, EMC will downplay the brand names and offer both products as components under the Data Protection Suite, Goulden said.

"The products will increasingly come together," he said. "No enterprise has only one app, so you need a suite of tools. So essentially what we are saying is, license this suite and as your needs change, you can use more of one piece than another."

EMC has also updated its Mozy storage backup service to make it easier for enterprises to use. The service now allows organizations to manage multiple accounts in storage pools. Rather than each account getting its own storage quota, an organization can pool all the accounts into one single quota, which means individual users won't have to spend as much time worrying about how much storage they've used. A new form of activation will allow users to sign on to the service without an authentication key, which EMC says could cut activation time considerably.

EMC will provide more details about the new products at a webcast launch to be held Wednesday.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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