The Rise of Purpose-Built Backup Appliances

By Robert Amatruda

Traditionally, the backup and recovery processes for many companies have been stable and long established. These processes have not been subject to rapid changes due to the critical nature of backup and recovery planning. However, new customer challenges brought on by unabated data growth, more aggressive service-level agreements (SLAs) for recovery, and the rapid growth of virtual serverinfrastructure has forced many companies to reevaluate their backup and recovery solutions.

These new protection challenges have been in the making for some time. Early in the new millennia, customers began to experience rapid growth of their backup data volumes. The enormous growth of backup data volumes outstripped the capabilities of traditional data protection methodologies that relied on physical tape backups pushed over a LAN. Furthermore, many companies have geographically distributed operations and aggressive SLAs for recovery. As a result, backup windows have grown beyond a 24-hour period.

This inability to backup data in a timely manner forced many to introduce disk-based backup targets to ensure timely backups. This represented the first evolution of their backup and data protection process to cope with the new challenges. Nevertheless, the process of backup and restore remained largely unchanged. Introducing disk targets, VTL, etc., was helpful, but it was only a part of the answer, as it still treated the disk as “tape-like,” and didn’t do anything to help alleviate the growth of the backup storage.

Today, customers demand disk-based data protection solutions that address the burgeoning data requirements of organizations with storage optimization technologies such as data deduplication and unlock the full potential of disk. In addition, they want to reduce the complexity of the backup and recovery process. More importantly, any new data protection solution must extend its protection capabilities beyond physical servers to virtual environments, cover datacenters, and increasingly cloud-based architectures.

Any new data protection offering must provide customers a measureable cost savings in terms of operational and/or capital costs. Also, any new data protection solution will need to integrate with existing data protection practices and process.

This would add to the operational benefits. These attributes become much more critical as server virtualization gains adoption. Unfortunately, many customers are still relying on tools that were designed for protection of physical assets – not virtual. A traditional data protection methodology does not scale well to virtualized server infrastructure. Customers must reevaluate and rearchitect their data protection strategies to safeguard their virtual server infrastructure as well as the applications that reside on them. A new holistic data protection approach is needed.

Customers are demanding faster backup, restore, and recovery. Additionally, customers need storage optimization tools, such as data deduplication, to control their explosive data growth. We have discovered many customers are augmenting or foregoing further investments in physical tape infrastructure in favor of purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs).

PBBAs are typically tightly coupled with application software and utilize technologies such as data deduplication and replication. IDC research indicates that the customer drivers for increased investment in PBBA solutions result from the need to improve backup window time, provide faster restore and recovery times, and enable seamless integration with existing backup applications. In addition, the accelerated adoption of virtual servers and desktops is causing IT organizations to review and modernize their data protection architectures and processes with PBBA solutions. Furthermore, PBBAs allow customers a good measure of investment protection by allowing them to extend the longevity of existing data protection infrastructure such as software and hardware.

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One thought on “The Rise of Purpose-Built Backup Appliances

  1. Increasingly interested in the impact virtualization / virtualized infrastructures are having outside of the immediate benefit (i.e. increased server efficiency) … specifically on storage. In addition to this blog, Amatruda also touched in this topic in a recent Webcast. One area of concern (for many), is the need to re-architect storage, given that this area has been on auto-pilot for so long. Determining what’s required (or not) is the key challenge for many. If its a matter of plug-and-play, the answer is less daunting. Paul Calento

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