Infrascale Evolves Backup Appliance to Backup Accelerator

The cloud backup market is very crowded, making it hard for a solution to rise above the noise and be seen. Infrascale, as we discussed in our briefing note, has accomplished this by offering one of the most complete cloud backup solutions in the market today. This solution covers everything from endpoints, to physical servers, to virtual ones. And, Infrascale provides this with the convenience of a hybrid model that leverages an on-site appliance for rapid restores, but leverages the cloud for disaster recovery. The hybrid approach has become table stakes for cloud backup providers, but now Infrascale is set to raise the ante.

Infrascale’s uniqueness of providing a complete data protection solution that can store data in almost any type of cloud repository seems to be well received by IT professionals. They currently protect over 1 million servers, laptops and devices and store over 20 billion data objects. And, the platform has now been adopted by over 1,000 MSPs, VARs and hosting partners.

Complete Means Complete

Many vendors claim complete data protection, but often their version of complete is some subset of the actual data center. Infrascale provides protection for physical and virtual server environments including operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, AIX, Novell and VMware. For applications their coverage includes Oracle, MS-SQL and Exchange. Finally, their endpoint protection includes Windows and Mac laptops, and iOS and Android mobile devices.

From Backup Appliance to Cloud Backup Acceleration

Backup appliances have served cloud backup solution providers well. They provide a local presence combined with rapid creation of a protected copy of data, and rapid recovery from a server or storage system failure. They also dutifully replicate that data to the cloud provider for safe keeping.

But, cloud backup appliances are rather dumb. The cloud simply serves as a mirror image of the backup appliance, ignoring the scalability of cloud storage. This means that the end customer has to continue to buy on-premises capacity to match their retention requirements as well as their data growth.

WAN Optimization is More Than Deduplication

Many vendors will claim that their backup appliance is “WAN optimized” because they leverage deduplication and compression to minimize the amount of data transferred across the internet connection to the cloud provider. While these data efficiency techniques are important and valuable techniques, they are just the beginning of WAN optimization.

There is much more that can be done to optimize the transfer. Just ask Riverbed and SilverPeak, both companies claim a significant part of their revenue is generated by being placed in between data efficient backup appliances to further maximize bandwidth utilization.

Infrascale Delivers the Cloud Backup Accelerator

Infrascale’s new Cloud Backup Accelerator is a specialized cloud gateway for backup. The device is a small, 1U appliance that comes with solid state and disk storage. Unlike a backup appliance, the Cloud Backup Accelerator uses the cloud as its primary storage location. Instead, the local device is more of a cache so that the local copy of data can be captured and restored quickly. It only keeps the most important data on the device, while replicating all data to the cloud.1

Changing the on-site Sizing Paradigm

Also unlike backup appliances, the capacity of the backup accelerator does not need to match the capacity of the data center. This frees the organization from having to continually add capacity to existing appliances or to have to upgrade to newer, bigger appliances. Instead, the accelerator has a policy engine that can be customized to make sure the right data is in the local cache at all times.

It would seem that a site with 15TB’s of data would be too large for a backup accelerator, but this is not the case. For example, Storage Switzerland works with a number of organizations that have 10-15 TBs of actual production data, but most of this data is discrete file data. Many of these organizations will typically have one database that is 200-500 GBs in size and maybe an email store that is in that same range.

With the accelerator’s policy engine (see below screenshot), a policy could be designed that would make sure that the latest two copies of both the database and the email store are kept in the cache. That would consume about 1.5 TBs of capacity, the remaining cache capacity could be used to store the most recently modified files, plus some room for storage overhead. All the remaining data would reside solely in the cloud.

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When it comes time to restore, the largest single transfers would be on-site in the Cloud Accelerator. Those transfers would be at the speed of the LAN connection. File data, if it is outside of the 1.5 TBs set aside in the above example, would come from the cloud. But keep in mind that these are discrete file transfers of older data so the latency of the cloud more than likely will not impact business continuity.

Of course, in the event of a total on-site data disaster, the Cloud Backup Accelerator customer is no more exposed than the cloud backup appliance customer, both will need to either recover in the cloud via a disaster recovery as a service option, or recover via the shipment of data to a new location.

Given the strength of the policy engine, Infrascale might be over conservative in its estimate of the accelerator being for customers with 15 TBs or less of data. It really comes down to the size of the mission critical data to be restored. If those mission critical databases and applications can fit in less than 4 TB, the size of the rest of the data really doesn’t matter.

Real WAN Acceleration

In addition to the policy engine, the backup accelerator includes real WAN acceleration beyond leveraging data efficiency techniques like deduplication and compression. The backup accelerator executes packet shaping and protocol optimization techniques to significantly reduce WAN transmission errors as well as make sure each packet is used to its maximum capacity.

Intelligence Leads to Simplified Pricing

All the intelligence in the Cloud Backup Accelerator is complimented by a much more simplified pricing model. While some of Infrascale’s competitors have several (if not dozens of) backup appliance options, that the organization needs to consider, Infrascale has one. This also leads to a much more simplified cloud pricing model based solely on capacity consumed, resulting in a price delta of as much as 50% versus other cloud backup solutions providers. Infrascale prices the Cloud Backup Accelerator at $2,550 to the channel (estimated retail value will be $3,000-$3,500) which includes three years’ worth of updates and one TB of cloud storage for one year. Each additional TB is just $50 per month.

StorageSwiss Take

Cloud backup is a very crowded market, but it is one experiencing a lot of interest from overburdened IT professionals. That interest is leading to market growth, so it is critical for companies like Infrascale to continue to innovate and to continue to differentiate themselves from the competition, but to also help their customers solve real data protection problems.

The Cloud Backup Accelerator is an excellent example of this innovation. It solves a real problem that data centers are facing when they consider hybrid cloud backup, maintaining the on-site appliance. The Cloud Backup Accelerator simplifies the on-site presence by removing capacity concerns. This leads to a more affordable solution that is easier for busy organizations to consume.

Sponsored by Infrascale

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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