De-Dupe Backup Target Appliance Buyer’s Guide – DCIG

Dell EMC DD9800, Exagrid EX40000E/32000E, HPE StoreOnce 6600, NEC Hydrastor HS8-5000 and Quantum DXi6900 recommended
This is a Press Release edited by on 2017.12.06

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DCIG, LLC announced the availability of its 2018 Deduplication Backup Target Appliance Buyer's Guide developed from the cloud data protection body of research.

The guide weights, scores and ranks more than 100 features of 22 products from 6 vendors. Using ranking categories of Recommended, Excellent, and Good, it offers the information an organization should need to make a highly-informed decision as to which deduplication backup target appliance will suit their needs.

Overall rankings

Each appliance included in the guide had to meet the following criteria:

  • Product is available as a physical appliance
  • Product compresses and deduplicates data
  • Provider offers and supports the appliance
  • Sufficient information available to reach meaningful conclusions
  • Product available by October 1, 2017

As deduplication as a technology has become commonplace, these same vendors also want to avoid the stigma of their product becoming classified as a commodity. To do so, they are each taking steps to provide specific value-adds to differentiate their product from the competition.

Here are how some providers are evolving their products.
Dell EMC Data Domain. The newest features on its appliances reflect needs by enterprises to store and manage ever more data for ever longer periods of time as well as identify ways to backup data more quickly. To manage more data, it has added a Cloud Tier offering that gives enterprises the option to store up to 2PB of data with various public cloud providers. It has also introduced features such as BoostFS, Data Domain Oracle, and ProtectPoint that, respectively, accelerate backups of data residing on file systems, Oracle Database, and Dell EMC storage arrays.
ExaGrid. The firm is currently the only deduplication backup target appliance provider that uses a landing zone. This landing zone holds a copy of data in its original state to facilitate very fast backups and restores. Its partnership with multiple backup software providers enables the seamless deployment and management of its appliances in most environments. Further, its scale-out architecture offers the non-disruptive upgrades and data migrations that enterprises want as part of managing their IT infrastructure.
HPE StoreOnce. HPE addresses enterprise needs for faster backups and restores and longer data retention periods in a yet a different way. It is creating more hooks between its StoreOnce and 3PAR storage arrays to facilitate the movement of protected data between them without the need for that data to pass through a backup software server. HPE is also taking steps to accelerate and simplify backup data sent to it from various backup software products. By using its Catalyst software, protected data can be simultaneously distributed across multiple StoreOnce nodes to accelerate backups and recoveries.

Yet as vendors evolve their deduplication backup target appliances to better align with enterprise requirements for faster backups, longer term data retention, and offsite replication, enterprises have also made known their need for faster, less disruptive recoveries. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for vendors and it also helps to explain some of the design decisions that they are making in their products.

On the surface, ExaGrid appears best positioned to solve this recovery challenge. By keeping data of the most recent backup in a raw or undeduplicated state, recoveries can occur very quickly and can potentially even occur on an ExaGrid appliance in its landing zone. However, vendors such as Dell EMC and HPE are taking steps to more closely tie their deduplication backup target appliances to their respective storage arrays. Using their solutions, they encourage enterprises to recover data from snapshots still residing on their storage arrays rather than retrieving data from their deduplicating backup target appliance.

Using storage arrays snapshots versus using a deduplication backup target appliance as the initial go-to source to recover data highlights the real battle going on behind the scenes. The flagship products from all the major providers are sufficiently mature with the features that enterprises need. But to pick the right appliance for their environment, enterprises need to quantify how they want to manage the most recent backup copy of their data. Do they want to use snapshots as the initial target and source of this copy of data or do they want to use the deduplicating backup target appliance to perform this function?

Complicating this decision, software-defined storage and hyper-converged infrastructure solutions have come on strong in the last two years that often offer their own snapshot technologies. While these technologies may eliminate the need for storage arrays, they rarely natively offer features that orchestrate the movement of data between their solution and an external appliance.

The bottom line is that for enterprises to make a choice between the available deduplication backup target appliances, they need to quantify the role that snapshots will play in their data protection scheme. Once the role of snapshots is defined and what product is going to orchestrate data protection, the decision as to what deduplication backup target appliance is a best fit for your environment becomes more straightforward to make. The end result should ideally be the backup software, deduplication backup target appliance, and snapshots all working together as one to provide a means for enterprises to easily and seamlessly backup and recover their data.

Since the release of the last guide on this topic, Dell and EMC have become one company. It has introduced a new line-up of Data Domain appliances with the DD9800 model earning a Recommended ranking. Dell EMC made a number of significant enhancements to its Data Domain line-up in the past year to include a HA option, BoostFS and ProtectPoint features to accelerate backups, and a new Cloud Tier offering that can store and manage up to 2TB of data with public cloud storage providers. The DD9800 itself scales up to 1PB of usable capacity with an estimated raw capacity of 1.2PB. Dell EMC added SSD flash to its Data Domain systems which they use to accelerate metadata access and lookup. It also enhanced their ability to operate VMs on the appliance for data recovery. Instead of needing to restore VMs directly to primary storage, they can now host up to 32 VMs which can boot directly on the appliance.

ExaGrid's scale-out architecture, newly announced cloud offering, along with ongoing virtualization enhancements helped the EX40000E and EX32000E, respectively, earn the ranking of Recommended. The ExaGrid EX40000E ships with up to 96TB of raw capacity per node or 78TB of usable capacity. Key new announcements from ExaGrid since the release of the last guide are its 33% increase in raw capacity per node of the EX40000E and its increases
in the number of nodes available in its scale-out GRID to 25 nodes. This expanded capacity and larger number of nodes allows the EX40000E to scale to 1PB of usable capacity in a full 25 node scale-out con guration.

ExaGrid's appliances are the only ones to keep a full, initial copy of backup data (not deduplicated) on its Landing Zone. Its Adaptive Deduplication technology starts to deduplicate data only after the data lands on the appliance. However, the Adaptive Deduplication technology does not need to wait to deduplicate data until a backup job completes.

Keeping full initial copies of backups in an undeduplicated state has some additional benefits. Unlike appliances that only deduplicate inline, an ExaGrid system can restore from the most recent backup without going through the rehydration process. This accelerates data recovery and enables rapid VM boots.

HPE introduced a refreshed lineup of deduplication appliances ranging from the enterprise down to the small and remote of offices. It made enhancements in integration and appliance management and performance features. The appliances now include flexible connectivity options and direct integration with 3PAR for snapshot of loading capabilities and performance enhancements using its Recovery Manager Central (RMC) software. HPE expects to extend this functionality to its recently acquired line of Nimble Storage in the very near future.

The HPE StoreOnce 6600 is one of the few appliances that scales to multiple petabytes. The company utilizes both scale-up and scale-out options in the StoreOnce architecture. The cluster can be scaled out to eight nodes grouped as four couplets and each couplet may be scaled up by adding up to ve expansion upgrades.

HPE also offers a virtual appliance edition of its deduplication appliance. The appliance can be used in small office and remote settings to perform deduplication at a lower cost than selecting a hardware appliance. While most virtual appliances scale in the single to low-double-digit terabyte range HPE's virtual appliance scales to as much as 50TB in raw capacity.

The Quantum DXi6900 Series rounds out the list of products ranked as Recommended. Three features specifically contributed to it achieving this ranking. First, it uses Quantum's StorNext le system for data integrity check-filing, metadata management, and storage optimization to balance performance across the system. Second, it offers a 'pay as you grow' feature to enable enterprises to license additional capacity as they need it in 17TB increments. Finally, it offers its own backup software, vmPRO, to enable enterprises to natively protect VMs without the need to acquire other 3rd party backup software to protect this part of their environment.

Excellent Ranking
The ten products that achieved an Excellent ranking in the this guide include the ExaGrid EX21000E, EX13000E, EX10000E, EX7000, EX5000, and EX3000 models; the HPE StoreOnce 5500 and 5100 models; the NEC HYDRAstor HS3-510; and the Quantum DXi4700.

These products have the following characteristics in common:
• 90% have metering capabilities (compared to 70% in the Good ranking)
• 80% support raw capacities of at least 300TB
• 50% support 500TB or more of raw capacity
• 30% support more than 1PB of raw capacity
• 100% support cloud backup (compared to 85% in the Good ranking)
• All support WAN acceleration to the cloud storage provider
• 100% support WAN acceleration to a cloud storage provider (compared to 50% in the Good Ranking)

The ExaGrid products ranked as Excellent complement the ExaGrid products ranked as Recommended. While these appliances scale to lower levels of raw capacity to meet the specific needs of small and mid-sized enterprises, enterprises have the option to mix and match any ExaGrid appliances in its scale-out GRID architecture. These lower capacity appliances give enterprises the option to scale-out at a more granular level or, optionally, start with these smaller appliances and then introduce larger capacity appliances should the need arise. Regardless of how an enterprise starts with ExaGrid or which direction it takes longer term, these appliances give them the flexibility to grow as they need and then seamlessly move into a larger solution.

The appliances from the other vendors resemble ExaGrid's appliances in that they offer the same software features as their Recommended counterpart(s) though they provide fewer hardware resources and, in the case of the HPE StoreOnce appliances, only do scale-up as opposed to scale-out. In every case, the appliances from these vendors will offer amounts of storage capacity, memory, and networking ports more appro- priate for small to midsized enterprise environments.

Good Ranking
Six products achieved a Good ranking include the following: the Dell EMC DD6800 and DD9300 models; the HPE StoreOnce 3100, 3520, and 3540 models; and, the Quest DR6300.

These products generally shared the following characteristics:
• All support concurrent restore and backup
• 70% include reporting mechanisms to show forecasted capacity based on historical utilization
• 85% provide performance thresholds alerts
• 70% support 400 or more concurrent streams
• 50% scale to less than 100TBs

The first and only product from Quest in this guide, the DR6300 deduplication backup target appliance shows up with a Good ranking. Quest specifically targets the SMEs with this model. This product was originally part of Dell before its acquisition of EMC and was then spun out as part of Dell's divestiture of Dell Software which has now become Quest.

The DR6300 possesses a few key attributes that make it stand out from competitive products. For instance, it is one of the few to offer a standard 3-year warranty versus many of its competitors which only offer a 1-year warranty or less. It is also the only product to offer backup acceleration software that is based on CIFS and NFS protocols which it appropriately names Rapid CIFS and Rapid NFS. Finally, it has an all-inclusive software licensing model which includes key features most SMEs need such as backup acceleration, encryption, and replication.

The five products from the other two vendors, Dell EMC and HPE, possess the same software attributes as their more highly ranked models. However, these again have more limited hardware features to make them more cost-effective and space efficient for the SME environments in which they are often deployed.