What’s Next in Enterprise Backup Appliances? INFINIDAT Backup Appliance Briefing Note

Backup Appliances come in two forms. Integrated appliances that have the backup software pre-installed on them and appliances that act as stand-alone systems so they can accept input from a variety of backup sources. The second type is probably more appropriate for enterprises since most enterprises have more than one backup application. They need backup appliance vendors to provide deep integration with backup software and to continue to improve backup performance and the storage scalability of the solutions.

Meeting backup and recovery windows is the number one challenge facing most enterprise IT planners. These windows continue to shrink even though the data set continues to expand. Meeting these tighter windows requires a two-pronged strategy of being more efficient with the backup transfer and delivering the raw horsepower needed to meet expectations.

Smarter Backup Appliances

The typical enterprise has two or three dedicated backup applications plus most of them also do in-application dumps of data from databases like Oracle. That means they need a backup appliance solution that can receive input from a variety of backup applications. The easiest way to achieve this flexibility is to provide NFS and SMB mounts since most backup applications and database environments support file system mounts.

Backup appliances though have to go beyond basic NFS/SMB support and directly integrate with applications where possible. Veritas NetBackup, for example, has its own backup protocol, OST, which enables a more efficient data transfer than typical NFS/SMB transfers. It also enables better integration to NetBackup so the application can control, monitor and report on various activities that the backup appliance performs.

Beyond integration, with the backup software, some backup appliance vendors can leverage their own protocols that provide even greater efficiency than OST, for example. With these protocols, the systems can provide a rudimentary source side deduplication minimizing the amount of data that needs to transfer over the network.

More Power

At some point, though, beating backup and recovery windows is simply a function of more horsepower, but many backup appliances aren’t designed to scale to the level that enterprises now require, or they can’t scale and continue to meet performance requirements. Getting the full backup job complete is an important priority for backup administrators. And it is a job that continues to come up on a regular basis since even incremental forever solutions require a consolidating full once. The solution is a faster, more scalable ingest and deduplication engine, and a backend that can scale to meet the enterprises’ never-ending need for additional capacity while still not sacrificing ingest performance.

Introducing INFINIDAT Backup Appliance

INFINIDAT is quickly emerging from interesting startup to a serious contender in enterprise primary storage. It has done this by focusing on a segment most of the major storage vendors have been ignoring, storage consolidation. As it has carved out a beachhead in this market, INFINIDAT has consistently heard its customers complain about backup appliance scalability.

The INFINIDAT Backup Appliance is INFINIDAT’s response to those concerns. The appliance is an enterprise-grade backup target, supporting 1PB of usable capacity (after data protection) and potentially more than 20 PB after deduplication. It has no single points of failure with an always-on operation design, coupled with intelligent ‘neural caching’ that delivers throughput and low latency required to meet the scalability demands of large enterprise backup workloads.

The appliance software supports both deduplication and compression on the appliance itself as well as a client offload that, in supported environments, does a source-side reduction pre-pass. With target-side deduplication alone, the system achieves a 48TB per hour backup pace and with client-offload can achieve 74TB per hour. Unlike other backup appliances that are architected primarily for deduplicated performance within backup windows, the INFINIDAT Backup Appliance also benefits from the raw performance of the INFINIDAT storage architecture to reduce windows when it matters most – during restores.

Direct support of Veritas NetBackup, Oracle, Veeam, IBM Spectrum Protect (TSM), and Commvault are included, although any backup solution that supports copying data to either an NFS or SMB mount should work. Veritas NetBackup and Oracle both support an efficient source-side dedupe protocol for more efficient transfers. INFINIDAT is also capable of hosting the Veeam data mover.

The deduplication engine (DDE) is stateless and can run on any of three nodes dedicated to this function. If one of the nodes fail, the DDE is moved to another available node and operations continue seamlessly. Most deduplication appliances that suffer a server failure on the deduplication hardware will either crash or stop working until the unit can is serviced.

The solution also provides replication capabilities between backup appliance with encryption. Data is encrypted before transfer and remain encrypted through the transfer, and while at rest at the secondary data center.

StorageSwiss Take

Enterprise data centers need robust backup appliances. These appliances need to be flexible to support the wide variety of applications in the data center but also provide specific integration to backup software market leaders. Just as important, they need to deliver the raw horsepower and capacity required to meet the enterprise data protection demand. The INFINIDAT Backup Appliance meets all of these requirements and it should be a strong consideration for enterprises looking to refresh their backup architectures.

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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