STORServer Upgrades and Extends Backup Appliance Line

When disk drives started to become economically feasible for backup, virtual tape libraries (VTLs) were the solution most manufacturers came up with to incorporate the benefits of disk into their existing tape-oriented environments. Since they were built around legacy backup applications, which were designed to write to tape, these systems had to emulate tape drives, adding another layer of processing and translation to an already complex infrastructure. To address this workaround, Colorado-based STORServer developed a native, purpose-built alternative that pioneered the backup appliance market segment over 10 years ago.

STORServer’s Enterprise Backup Appliance (EBA) is a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (DR) solution that includes backup software, a server, disk and a tape archive for extended capacity and compliance. Using IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), the EBA was designed for disk backup from the beginning, leveraging TSM’s progressive ‘incremental forever’ technology, broad platform support and storage-agnostic architecture. In fact, the EBA can write to multiple disk pools and tape at the same time, managing the data just as it would be managed in a Virtual Tape Library (VTL).

Not just a Bundle

The VTL, as described above, is comprised of several components. And although many of the products in this market are called “appliances”, in reality they’re essentially bundles of these components. The EBA is a true backup appliance, a purpose built backup system that comes preloaded and configured with backup software, integrated disk storage and an optional tape library. A single console provides centralized management that eliminates the need to log in to software or hardware components to monitor activity or make configuration changes.

A Solution for Multiple Backup Administrators

Data protection in this day and age involves more than just a dedicated backup administrator. For example, many organizations have a VMware admin in charge of virtual servers and database administrators (DBAs) responsible for production applications or enterprise resource planning (ERP). All of these users need to have access to the backup system, which must be easy to configure and operate. The EBA provides a single interface to manage everything from backup to recovery to disaster recovery (DR) and provides simple confirmation that data protection SLAs are being met for every user group.

STORServer provides 24×7 Solution Support services, with a guaranteed 4-hour response time as well as certified training and disaster recovery project consulting. Recently, STORServer announced several updates to their successful backup appliance line.

BA851 Mid-market Backup Appliance

The first is the BA851, a full-fledged STORServer solution for the SMB and mid-market user space, one that provides a fully integrated data protection and DR solution in a 2U package. Instead of stretching a small company backup solution beyond its intended environment, the BA851 takes the flagship “enterprise” appliance architecture and modifies it to the mid-market data center, providing enterprise-like features and performance in the process. It comes with the less costly entry-level license of TSM but still provides a hefty 15TB of disk storage, a 6-core CPU and 32GB of memory. With integrated deduplication and simple connectivity all in a disk-based appliance, the BA851 provides enough horsepower and capacity to support demanding physical and virtual server environments with up to 7 TB of primary data.

Node Replication

The EBA now supports the automated node replication that’s part of TSM. This block level, synchronous replication sends data off site, enabling backup and disaster recovery to happen simultaneously. The target for this replication is another EBA, which can be located in a secondary site or at a hosted data center.

New Expansion Options

Since STORServer’s appliances use TSM, they write backups directly to a disk pool, which are then moved to the appropriate storage subsystem. This flexibility makes storage transparent and enables several new disk expansion options. STORServer EBA units can now be configured with up to four base disk arrays, each with up to seven 30TB expansion disk shelves for a maximum capacity of roughly 1PB. And deduplication has been enhanced to allow source-side or target-side, global deduplication across the entire EBA storage pool. The EBA appliances also allow tape library configuration expansions for both backup and archive pools.

STORServer now supports TSM for Virtual Environments (VE) providing simplified backup of virtual machines using the same console-based management that’s used for physical servers. TSM for VE leverages vStorage APIs like Changed Block Tracking to take incremental backups of VMs, reducing backup windows. Users can still restore individual files, VMDKs or the entire VM from each back up.

Stand-alone STORServer Console

Also released was a stand-alone STORServer Console (SSC) software package that runs in existing TSM environments. With the SSC, TSM shops can enjoy the simplicity and operational benefits of the STORServer’s Backup Appliance and leverage its monitoring and reporting features to improve data protection management.

Storage Swiss Take

STORServer has been building enterprise-grade backup and DR appliances for quite some time – before appliances were popular. The Enterprise Backup Appliance has provided a simple, effective alternative to VTLs, a platform to leverage the benefits of deduplication and provide a one-step solution for backup and DR. The company has also made the right choices and done the heavy lifting by integrating a backup package that was architected to write to disk (TSM) and made it easy to use. With this update STORServer’s backup appliance line now extends from the small company server closet to the enterprise data center, providing effective and efficient backup and disaster recovery protection for physical and virtual servers.

STORServer is a client of Storage Switzerland

Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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