EMC Takes on Tape

LAS VEGAS — EMC’s new backup products announced yesterday at EMC World are the company’s most aggressive effort to date to position disk as a viable alternative to enterprise tape backup.

Data de-duplicationand spin-down technology are just two of the technologies the storage giant is using to make disk a more economical alternative to tape.

“These products leverage data de-duplication, disk drive spin-down and low-power disk drives in order to drive down the cost of disk-based backup versus tape,” said Dave Donatelli, head of the information storage division at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC.

Disk libraries are front and center of the new lineup. Two LAN backup-to-disk systems aimed at mid-size businesses feature policy-based de-dupe from Quantum Corp. to reduce backup size and IP replication. The EMC Disk Library (DL) 3D 1500 provides up to 36 TB of capacity, while the DL3D 3000 provides up to 148 TB. Both take advantage of 1 TB SATAdisks with RAID 6 data protection. Optional Fibre Channel ports are available.

The products will be generally available on May 28. The pricing for the DL 1500 starts at $115,000.

On the virtual tape library (VTL) front, EMC has released the DL 4000. In addition data de-duplication, it also comes with spin-down technology to keep power costs down. It is a much higher-end system than the LAN-based products, targeted at larger SAN environments.

“EMC began the whole VTL market a few years back and now has over 245 PB of VTL shipped,” said Donatalli. “The DL 4000 takes this field a stage further by reducing disk drive power and cooling need by up to 47 percent.”

The disk drive spin-down option is free for the DL 4000 series. Essentially, it puts idle drives into sleep mode. While this provides 19 percent of the power reduction, low-power 5400 rpm 1 TB SATA drives give an additional drop in power, using 32 percent less energy than 7,200 rpm drives to hit the 47 percent figure. It will also be available by the end of May. Pricing starts at $200,000.

“Spin down of unutilized disk drives will be done automatically by an algorithm on the DL 4000,” said Donatelli. “This algorithm also ensures the disks remain healthy.”

Avamar Finds a Niche

EMC continues to invest R&D dollars in Avamar. After just over a year with EMC, the Avamar business is showing results, tripling its customer base during that time. The new EMC Avamar Data Store Gen 2 and EMC Avamar 4.0 are the latest versions of this backup and recovery product. It de-duplicates data at remote offices and from other machines before it is sent over the storage network. EMC calls this source-based data de-duplication. The latest versions double backup capacity per system and use less energy compared to previous generations.

“Data Store is an appliance for those that don’t want to install the software itself,” said Donatelli. “Avamar 4.0 is the software version of this product and is now available.”

As well as remote offices, Donatelli says EMC Avamar is good for VMware, large file servers, remote offices and other areas where backup hits bottlenecks. Avamar Data Store Gen 2 will be available on May 23. The appliance-based product has several models — single and multi-node. A large system can store about 1 petabyte of non-de-duplicated backup — and twice that after de-duplication.

Backup software has also come in for a makeover. EMC NetWorker Fast Start is an attempt to simply the company’s traditional NetWorker backup software. EMC’s hope is that it will start to see more customers adopting it in the high-end of the SMB sector. As such, EMC has designed it to take much less time to deploy, cutting the time to install by 80 percent, according to Donatelli.

“Networker is growing much faster than the backup market as a whole,” said Donatelli. “NetWorker Fast Start is an integrated, packaged offering designed to simplify licensing, installation, and set-up for mid-size customers.”

It also supports features such as de-duplication, continuous data protection (CDP) and backup analytics. Fast Start encompasses a Linux or Windows-based server, 20 clients, five applications modules for hot backups, 10 TB backup to disk or EMC Disk Library, and a 40-slot Autochanger. EMC NetWorker Fast Start is currently available. Networker Fast Start is priced at $18,000.

Combining Forces

Donatelli said the new offerings are all the product of multi-divisional teams from the four divisions of EMC: information storage, VMware, information security and content management/archiving.

“We are now coming out with lots of products combining technologies from the various divisions,” he said. “For example, we have added RSA Security authentication and encryption to DMX systems to make storage more secure.”

If an external engineer is called in to customer systems to change a disk drive, for example, the customer can provide limited access — enough to change the drive. But it’s a one-time only access and the engineer can do no more than change that drive.

Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, sees this strategy of combining products and technologies across divisions as a winning move for EMC, particularly on the backup front.

“EMC’s strategy of delivering new features like de-dupe that can be performed at the client through the backup solution stack and at the target storage destination will help them address a number of customer requirements where their competitors are left flat-footed,” said Whitehouse.

The new products underscore “the strength of their portfolio and that they can deliver data protection solutions to customers of all sizes and environments.”

Back to Enterprise Storage Forum

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.
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