Why Are Customers Deploying Purpose-Built Backup Appliances (PBBA) with Gusto?

By Robert Amatruda

So why are customers deploying PBBAs with increasing frequency? In short, PBBA solutions provide a tremendous amount of customer value and utility – specifically for backup.

The backup process in organizations of all sizes has been largely unchanged for many decades. These organizations are still relying on tape for backup and recovery. This is very problematic given the fact that data volumes are increasing at a rapid pace According to IDC, data volumes are growing well over 50% on an annual basis. Customers are literally swimming in a sea of backup data. As a result, backup windows have outstripped a 24-hour time period. The role of tape has evolved from backup to a viable archive solution. Another trend that has exacerbated many customers backup and recovery challenges has been the increasing incidence of virtual server deployments. Unfortunately, the current backup and recovery tools and processes have been developed to safeguard physical servers and infrastructure. Customers who need to adequately safeguard their virtual servers and infrastructure using tape-based backup and recovery are in for a big surprise. The current scheme simply does not work properly with aggressive recovery time and recovery point objectives. Another approach is sorely needed.

We believe PBBAs are the answer. Just to be clear, in IDC’s parlance, a purpose-built backup appliance is a standalone disk system that utilizes software, disk arrays, server engines or nodes, and works as a target for backup data. PBBA systems can be multi-protocol presenting as a virtual tape library or with a standard network file interface. PBBAs are designed to optimize capacity and exploit technologies such as data deduplication and replication. Because of these capabilities, many organization use secondary PBBAs for disaster recovery purposes.

There are several important benefits that PBBAs provide to IT managers. PBBAs have storage optimization capabilities and tight integration with backup software, allowing customers to do a better job of managing the escalating volumes of backup data. Also, PBBA solutions can improve backup window times, provide faster restore and recovery times, and facilitate seamless integration with existing backup applications. PBBAs can streamline and optimize backup processes, so companies can extend their current investments in data protection hardware and software without having to change any process, people, or infrastructure. In effect, an organization can deploy a PBBA without changing anything — backup software, workflows, processes, and so forth.

For organizations that want further improvements to data protection, PBBAs can also help in this regard; an organization can deploy a PBBA and then redesign other aspects of its backup infrastructure — updating backup software, optimizing network infrastructure, adding data management analysis capabilities and so forth — for additional optimization. In this scenario, an organization can utilize PBBAs to serve as a linchpin for a complete backup redesign. PBBAs also automate much of the backup process, which reduces the amount of time that IT staff spends responding to operational issues such as backups failing to happen. We have found that customers enjoy improved time to disaster recovery as well.

Our research indicates that PBBA solutions provide the following customer enhancements:

Improved backup and recovery performance
Measureable customer value – transitioning from capex to opex
Simplified management
Storage optimization with deduplication
Optimized and integrated hardware and software

More importantly, PBBA systems allow customers to have a convergence of data protection strategies by providing snapshots and replication for remote site protection as well as storage optimization such as data deduplication. Now we know why customers are embracing PBBAs with gusto.

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