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Leading PBA Vendors
The physical backup appliance product space is relatively complex with different vendors offering multiple lines of similar products. Well-known vendors include Barracuda, Dell, EMC, Symantec and Unitrends.
Barracuda targets the SMB space with appliance offerings in desktop and 1U to 4U form factors. Capacity ranges from 500GB in their 190 model up to 122 TB in the 1090 and includes options for site-to-site replication to another Barracuda appliance or cloud replication to the Barracuda cloud.
EMC sells a variety of cloud-enabled appliances based on their Avamar backup and deduplication software. The EMC Avamar Data Store ranges in capacity from 2 TB up to 124 TB. They can be purchased as a single node appliance, perfect for use at a remote office or small business location, or in a scalable architecture that allows expansion of up to 16 nodes for maximum flexibility and coverage ranging into the enterprise space.
Symantec NetBackup is a well-known PBA family of turnkey appliances, based on their legacy Netbackup software business. The 5200 series is optimized for cost and is focused primarily on the SMB space. Capacity scales from 4 TB to 148 TB. The 5300 series is larger capacity at 114 TB to 229 TB, and it is performance-optimized and targeted at the enterprise. Both families are cloud-enabled.
Unitrends Recovery-Series appliances have capacities that scale from 1 TB to 182 TB, and offer flash memory in their storage tier and native cloud enablement, supporting a variety of public and private clouds. Unitrends wasn’t the first company to add flash to a backup appliance, but they were the first to use it in their metadata processing for dramatically improved backup, recovery and deduplication performance. New Recovery-Series physical appliances now scale up to 122 TB raw with Recovery-Series 946, and up to 182 TB with the 946S. The new models allow Unitrends users to right-size their PBAs in a variety of different environments from SMBs up into the enterprise.
Choosing the Right Backup for You
The key to success in this space is to have everything that’s needed in one easy-to-use appliance. It’s about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, so that a user doesn’t have to be an expert in IT technology XYZ, as would be the case if they were trying to build their own custom solution out of best-of-breed components.
PBAs will continue to remain relevant and popular because of highly efficient all-in-one infrastructure, including tuned hardware and backup software, increasing capacities, ease of installation and a single-vendor support point. It is hard to get much better than that in today’s fast-changing data backup environment.
The good news is that customers have a variety of choices in how to back up their environments. The bad news is that they do have a variety of choices, and they have to evaluate them and pick one that is going to best meet their needs. In today’s world, where everything is moving toward virtualization, a virtual backup appliance strategy is a safe, solid choice and it works. But don’t stop there: also consider PBAs for performance, ease of installation, and hardware isolation.
Ultimately, the choice is never about “Which is better, VBA or PBA?” The choice is, “Which is better for this environment, for these backup service levels, for those business goals?” Users should not allow the desire to ‘go virtual’ to blind them to advantages of using a physical backup appliance to protect their data.
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