Building a Better Backup Appliance – iXsystems Briefing Note

When it comes to storing backup data, IT professionals have a lot of options from which to choose. Dedicated backup appliances tend to be the most popular selection. Another option is using the backup software’s built-in storage capabilities and building an appliance from commodity hardware. The problem with both of these options is their dedication to the task, leaving the storage and hardware that drives that storage idle most of the day.

Multi-Purpose Backup Storage

Organizations should consider backup storage solutions that can serve other purposes than just backup storage. IT professionals are increasingly using Tier 2 Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems for backup storage because they can also use the NAS system for storing unstructured production data. These systems are very cost effective, scalable and highly reliable.

The Problem with NAS as Backup Storage

The problem with NAS as backup storage, as well as dedicated backup storage appliances in general, is that during a backup, data has to travel to the backup server and then to backup storage. In addition to the extra trip of data across the network, IT needs to provide two physical servers for protection.

While a few NAS systems on the market will run a backup application, most do not. Those that do run the risk of the backup application crashing and taking down both backup and recovery functions as well as NAS services.

iXsystems TrueNAS with Asigra

A potential solution is to run the backup application as a service. iXsystems, creators of the open sourced powered TrueNAS family of NAS appliances, recently announced a partnership with Asigra, where the Asigra software runs as a service on the TrueNAS appliance. The combination means that data no longer needs to travel across the network twice.

TrueNAS provides enterprise class features like snapshots and replication. Additionally, the TrueNAS arrays can support file, block and object storage workloads. Depending on the workload, some customers might run their entire environment (VMware, databases, file services and backups) from a single storage system. They can replicate the backup data to an Asigra MSP or the Asigra Cloud in case there is a problem with the NAS hardware. Other customers may use the TrueNAS/Asigra combination just for backups and file storage.

Asigra for its part is a veteran in the data protection industry. However, its veteran status doesn’t mean that it isn’t innovating. Recently, Asigra announced the delivery of potentially the most complete ransomware protection solution including the elimination of attack loops caused by unrecognized malware.

StorageSwiss Take

One of the challenges facing the data center is the multiplicity of storage systems it needs to manage. Even small data centers have two or three systems and enterprises are now counting more than a dozen systems. Solutions like iXsystems’ TrueNAS provide those organizations with a way to consolidate the number of storage systems they manage. The integration of Asigra as a Service into the NAS makes the consolidation message even stronger.

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 Briefing Note

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