Avamar Reinvents Backup

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Because Avamar is saving its customers a bundle on storage and network costs, VCs are willing to invest some cash in the startup.

Avamar announced this week that it has closed on a $15 million funding round, bringing the five-year-old startup’s total funding to more than $50 million over five rounds.

The payoff has been a long time coming. Years before low-cost disk storage appeared on the horizon, Avamar was reengineering for disk backup processes that had been developed for tape.

That may sound like a risky strategy, but Avamar CEO Kevin Daly insists it was just a matter of time. “Since the long-term trends were obvious, it was always a question of when, not if,” Daly told Enterprise Storage Forum.

The result is the company’s Axion backup and restore software, which Avamar claims reduces storage needs by 90% and network usage by 99%.

“If you redesign the process to take full advantage of disk, dramatic things happen,” says Daly, who was CTO of Quantum Storage Solutions Group before coming to Avamar.

Unique Approach

Analysts agree that Avamar’s approach is unique.

“Avamar’s is a paradigm-shifting product for backup and restore,” says Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at the Taneja Group. “The fact that they are disruptive to the existing way of doing things is what makes them very interesting. If you want to rethink the entire method of how to protect data and are willing to say goodbye to Legato or Veritas or whatever other backup software you had before, then Avamar is an absolutely fantastic product.”

“…If you want to rethink the entire method of how to protect data and are willing to say goodbye to Legato or Veritas or whatever other backup software you had before, then Avamar is an absolutely fantastic product.”

Avamar has 40 installations in the year or so it has been shipping product. Daly says that half those installs are “very large.” For a recent customer, a large financial institution that marks the company’s biggest deal to date, the first phase alone involves 50 terabytes, says Daly.

Daly says Avamar offers more than just operational savings. For $90,000, or “the same cost as local tape backup,” Daly says Avamar can install both a 1-1.5 TB local backup system and a second one for remote disaster recovery.

Daly thinks it’s just a matter of time until disk backup eclipses tape. “I’m not bullish on the future role of tape,” he says. “There will always be a role for tape, but will it be an operational role? I think this may turn faster than people think.”

The oversubscribed funding round was led by a new investor, Morgan Stanley Venture Partners. All existing investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs, Benchmark Capital and CMGI@Ventures, participated in the round. Daly says that with the latest round, the company is now fully funded.

Data Domain Takes More Traditional Approach

Also this week, Data Domain announced Replicator, an enhanced feature set for its DD200 recovery storage appliance that replicates backup data to a remote DD200 using the company’s 20-1 compression technology. That product too offers huge savings on bandwidth and storage, but it integrates with standard backup software instead of replacing it.

“The main difference between Data Domain and Avamar is that Data Domain lets the front end of the backup process work just like today and allows you to use whatever software you were using before,” says Taneja. “But once the data gets to the backup server, they grab it, apply CAS [content-addressed storage] to it, eliminate tons of duplication, and then store the condensed data on to a disk. From there, you can still send it to tape if you choose to.”

“Data Domain will appeal to folks that do not want to shake up the tree completely, but want to step into the new world slowly,” Taneja adds. “Avamar will appeal to the forward thinker and the early adopter. Data Domain will appeal to those that like to put a toe in the water before they decide what to do. I think on innovation, Avamar wins hands down. Those that saw that are the ones that invested more in them.”

Both companies use CAS technology, which Taneja says is “very useful for elimination of duplication automatically, and is a strong underlying technology for guaranteeing authenticity of an object.”

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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