Product Analysis: Asigra Converged Data Protection Appliance

Asigra Cloud Backup is a robust, multi-tenant data protection offering built exclusively for Managed Service Providers. For almost three decades, the solution has enabled MSPs to provide enterprise class backup and recovery services to their customers worldwide. But the infrastructure required to stand up and begin offering backup services can be daunting for service providers looking to optimize their operational costs to preserve their margins or resellers looking to evolve their business to a monthly recurring revenue services model. To address these challenges, Asigra is making available a converged data protection appliance that combines storage, compute and backup software into a single plug n’play system, which allows service providers to realize a return on their investment in as little as 4 months.

The Asigra Architecture

When a business agrees to allow a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to protect their data with the Asigra solution, that MSP will typically deploy a small footprint physical or virtual server at the customer’s location and then load the Asigra software on it. This is called the DS-Client. One of the most compelling aspects of the Asigra software architecture is that it does not require that agents be installed on the customer’s servers. Instead, the DS-Client uses operating system and native application APIs to unobtrusively collect data for backup from the customer’s data sources.

At the MSP’s data center, the multi-tenanted Asigra appliance for SPs will be implemented to receive a replicated copy of data from multiple DS-Clients. The purpose of the Converged Data Protection Appliance is to minimize the amount of time that the MSP spends setting up their infrastructure or data vault within their own data center or a co-location enabling them to get to market faster and start earning revenue from their cloud backup service. With the Asigra SP appliance, implementation is as simple as powering up, gaining network access, and running a configuration wizard. Combined with the agentless approach described above, this is an ideal solution for Service Providers that simply don’t have the time or resources to research, source, procure, build, configure, test, and tune the infrastructure.

Converged Data Protection Appliance

Asigra is announcing three turnkey appliances to reduce the time required to design, engineer and implement the multi-tenant infrastructure required for the data vault, also referred to as the DS-System. Each appliance comes pre-configured with the Asigra software and an appropriate amount of local storage for various sized business. The 1U Appliance provides protection for up to 12TB of compressed and deduped backup capacity, the 2U Appliance provides for 40TB of backup capacity and the 4U provides for 100TB of backup capacity. Capacity can be expanded as needed simply by adding extra licenses or an extra appliance, so there is no need to reconfigure the environment.

The first or initial appliance purchase includes Asigra’s 1TB FreeForever. This means that the MSP can backup 1TB of the customers’ data regardless of application or platform at no charge to the MSP. Assuming that the MSP charges $.50 per GB/month for their service, they can expect to see a payback on their investment within just 4 months. Also the appliance business model should allow a smaller MSP to achieve better scale since they can implement in less time with less personnel meaning faster time to revenue.

For MSPs who want to offer a highly available solution for business continuity and disaster recovery, they can purchase two appliances and replicate between the appliances. MSPs can also replicate between the appliance and any non-appliance based DS-System. For example, a MSP might deploy an appliance to the customer’s data center or remote office for local backup and recovery protection with replication to the MSP’s remote data center for DR.

Since the converged data protection appliances are intended to help new MSPs launch their cloud backup service powered by Asigra quickly, Asigra’s expertise in the space is also critical. Asigra provides turnkey contract and SLA templates along with service description templates that MSPs can leverage to make sure the business end of the solution is as seamless as the technology end is.

Strong Foundation

Of course none of this operational goodness is of value if the core solution itself doesn’t compete well with the other options on the market. Asigra has a long history of providing a very complete data protection solution. Asigra can provide agentless protection of all the major operating systems and hypervisors. It also has the ability to provide online protection for most of the major database applications. Unlike most of the more traditional backup applications it can also protect newer technologies like Docker Containers and cloud based applications like Google Apps, Salesforce.com and MS Office 365.

Asigra also offers a robust data deduplication technology that, after the initial full, only does incremental backups. Only unique changed data is sent to the DS-Client. Then the DS-Client verifies that this data is unique across servers and sites. It also compresses the data before it is transferred to the MSP and stored in their data center. The result is a unique end-to-end reduction in the amount of data that is transferred and the amount of data that is stored.

Additionally, Asigra provides in-depth VM protection, equipping the MSP customer with three data protection methods. They can choose from point-in-time backups, snapshot based replication and/or Virtual Disaster Recovery. Option 1 is a point-in-time backup protection with full VM- or file-level recovery. This option consumes the fewest storage and compute resources. Option 2 is classic Asigra Virtual Disaster Recovery (VDR) providing point-in-time backup protection and replication if faster RTOs than the RTO available in Option 1 are required. Option 3 is the VM Replication which meets the most demanding RTOs. It integrates VMware vSphere replication, without backup, to one or more warm, on or off-site replica VMs. Asigra integrates them into a single interface to make management and verification of VM protection more seamless.

Finally Asigra provides tape out support, allowing MSPs to offer a lower cost, with lower service levels, and tiers of storage to their clients for long term retention of data. Asigra uses LTFS for this tape format which means these tapes can be read by open source utilities for maximum portability.

Conclusion

Asigra has long been a maker of a very robust backup software that hits all of the checkboxes from a data protection standpoint. They have also been a leader in helping MSPs to efficiently provide a multi-tenant cloud data protection service to their customers. Although Asigra provides support to their partners (the MSP), the MSP adds their own value to their own service while setting their own margins, and hosting their customers’ data in their own secure facilities. Despite this help it was difficult for MSPs, with limited staffing, or new MSPs to fully embrace the Asigra model. The Converged Data Protection Appliances are a notable step forward in providing MSPs with an engineered, economical option driving down operational costs while getting to revenue faster.

Sponsored by Asigra

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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Posted in Product Analysis

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