Backup Software, Hardware Integration Challenges – StorageCraft Buys Exablox

Data protection is made of three components; the software that identifies and copies the data needing protection, the hardware that will store the protected copy and the IT professionals that drive the process. When two of these components are combined, hardware and software, one expects that the overall process will become easier. History shows us though that is often not the case. With that introduction, we bring up the fact that StorageCraft has purchased Exablox. How is that going to turn out for customers and should future customers be concerned?

The Software, Hardware Integration Challenge

On the whiteboard, combining a hardware and software company should lead to tighter integration between the two. The software developers get directions to focus what is now “their” hardware and provide specific support of it. In some cases they are exposed to unique properties of the hardware they can exclusively support. The result should be a better data protection solution for customers that is easier to install and manage.

Many organizations take the above approach; the problem is they often do so at the exclusion of any other software or hardware solution on the market. To get all the cool features the organization “encouraged” to buy both the hardware and the software from the same vendor. The result is that this model limits IT’s flexibility, the next new data protection innovator is boxed out and often IT’s cost for the solution increases.

StorageCraft Buys Exablox

When StorageCraft briefed us on its acquisition of Exablox, it caused some concern but that concern was quickly alleviated. StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect line of products provides complete protection of IT environments, ranging from the protection of physical Windows Servers, Linux systems, virtualized environments and desktops. Exablox is the company that brought object storage to the masses with an easy to use scale-out, object storage operating environment on pre-configured appliances. They also had a very unique BYOD (bring your own drive) policy. The appliances were empty and customers would install the drives of their choice in them. For more on Exablox check out this recent ChalkTalk video we did with their Sr. Director, Product Management Sean Derrington.

It’s all Good?

So what does StorageCraft’s acquisition mean for Exablox? According to representatives from both companies, no changes technically, Exablox does get an instant expansion to it reach and ability to service customers. Exablox as a unit is free to go out and establish partnerships with other software vendors and StorageCraft will do the same with other hardware vendors.

Why the purchase then? It seems like there is great synergy between the teams and it does look like StorageCraft will spend some extra effort on Exablox integration, but not so much that it will become its only hardware target.

The other key difference between this and other backup hardware/software marriages is that Exablox is much more than just a backup target. It is really a primary and secondary storage solution where one of its use cases is backup storage. It can easily be the storage for other services like user data, virtual server storage, archive storage, sensor (IoT) storage and video surveillance.

StorageSwiss Take

We’ve always been a fan of Exablox, and StorageCraft has a strong reputation and loyal customer base (including Storage Switzerland’s Joseph Ortiz). The merger between the two – especially with the commitment to keep driving independent innovation, while looking for areas to collaborate – seems to be the best of all possible outcomes. The result is a stronger company with a deeper technical bench.

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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