Backup starts to scale out along with storage, data growth

Sepaton is introducing backup appliances that enterprises can combine to meet growing needs

Backup and recovery is starting to get some of the same capabilities as primary storage systems to handle the rising floods of data with less management overhead.

On Tuesday, at Storage Networking World, veteran data protection vendor Sepaton is announcing a backup and recovery platform that's designed to grow easily as an organization accumulates data. Sepaton's introduction of its VirtuoSO appliance and the underlying Optiscale architecture comes just days after tape specialist Spectra Logic announced its BlackPearl appliance to integrate web and cloud data into vast and growing tape libraries.

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While primary storage technology has matured to the point where many systems can automatically grow to accommodate more data, backup and recovery is still mostly built around products that force IT administrators to reconfigure their systems every time they add a new hardware unit, analysts say.

That threatens to become a bottleneck in a world where, according to research company IDC, enterprises are expanding their storage capacity by more than 30 percent every year to keep up with data growth. What's important enough to store is usually considered worth backing up in some form, so data protection challenges are escalating along with storage woes.

VirtuoSO can scale up from one to four nodes, treating all the data within as a single pool with a 1-petabyte capacity. It's the company's first entry into NAS (network-attached storage) data protection and is designed to work with more data types than its earlier products. Most importantly, it supports the widely used CIFS (Common Internet File System) and NFS (Network File System) protocols. Sepaton developed the new platform to back up growing amounts of file-based data stored in NAS systems instead of SANs (storage area networks).

Sepaton's new software and appliances are especially good news for large enterprises that have huge volumes of data, more than they can back up to any one traditional appliance, Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jason Buffington said.

Coming from a tape storage background, Sepaton so far has made most enterprise backup software treat its systems as virtual tape libraries, Buffington said. With CIFS and NFS, VirtuoSO will be able to take in data more easily from third-party backup applications. Plus, it will give enterprises more granular access to their backed-up files, Buffington said.

What may make VirtuoSO and OptiScale stand out most is hybrid deduplication. Sepaton historically has used post-processing deduplication, finding and eliminating duplicate bits of data after storing the data whole. It's now adding in-line deduplication, which runs while a backup system is ingesting data.

Enterprises can apply either or both of these methods to a given type of data. To do this, they can use automation software from Sepaton or set their own policies, including ones that will bypass deduplication for data types that don't need it. In addition, deduplication is applied to the data on all nodes rather than just what's on a single node, leading to greater storage efficiency, Sepaton says.

Hybrid deduplication gives users more flexibility and in some cases lets them deduplicate twice, making their backups even more compact, ESG's Buffington said.

Sepaton's roadmap for VirtuoSO and Optiscale calls for eventual scaling to as many as 16 nodes, plus support for more storage protocols, replication capabilities and other features.

The VirtuoSO platform, now in limited release and set for general availability in the first quarter of next year, is offered as a full appliance with storage included or as a gateway that can be attached to existing Hitachi Data Systems storage. Prices for the full appliance start at US$344,500.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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