Insights from the Forthcoming DCIG 2014-15 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide

By February 7, 2014 DCIG

The forthcoming DCIG 2014-15 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide provides organizations the unique opportunity to review and evaluate the large number of backup appliances that represent more steps forward in the continuing effort to simplify backup in today’s real-world IT environments. By providers integrating the core components needed to deliver backup in a single box, more of these appliances come closer to achieving the “plug and play” ideal that enterprises seek.

Integrated backup appliances have already been proven successful. But as this latest generation of appliances illustrate, organizations can expect an even better experience from backup appliances going forward. More deduplication options, heightened support for virtualized environments, new alliances between hardware and software providers and increased emphasis on providing more tightly integrated support from a single provider are just some of the new features that these appliances boast.

Other areas where organizations will also see changes in backup appliances from the previous DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide include:

  • Backup appliances make better use of solid state drives (SSDs) which contribute to increases in throughput and performance.
  • Large providers like Dell have shed its alliances with traditional backup software providers such as CommVault and Symantec in favor of creating its own line integrated backup appliances that only use Dell hardware and software.
  • No longer with Dell, Symantec and CommVault have adapted to this new world of backup appliances. Symantec now develops and markets its own line of appliances while in the last quarter of 2013 CommVault aligned with STORServer, the winner of the previous DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance, to create a compelling new line of backup appliances.

One key differentiator witnessed in the research for this Buyer’s Guide is that providers are strengthening their offerings with services. As organizational needs increase, providers are bulking up their support and technology support teams to meet their heightened expectations for faster response times and quicker resolutions to the challenges they face.

Another intriguing shift in customer support is that a few providers such as STORServer are rolling out data recovery guarantees. A data recovery guarantee is a major commitment to make, but is important for those who purchase an appliance. Depending on the appliance, data may be able to be retrieved from the cloud, from the appliance itself, or may simply mean the appliance can perform data recovery in a certain amount of time. Based on the highly competitive nature of this market, it is logical to conclude that other providers will soon feel the pressure to offer a feature like this in the not too distant future.

The growth of integrated backup appliances has led organizations to choose appliances that better align with where they want to store their data – be it in private clouds, public clouds or some combination of both (hybrid clouds.) It is because of this fragmentation that DCIG now segments backup appliances between those intended for use in private clouds, such as are featured in this DCIG 2014-15 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide, and those do hybrid backup which keep data both on premise and in public clouds. This type of backup appliances will be addressed in the upcoming DCIG Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide, also due out in the first half of 2014. Currently DCIG has no plans to produce a Buyer’s Guide on backup software that only store data in public clouds or with public cloud providers.

Integrated backup appliance challengers come mainly from other types of purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs), including deduplicating backup appliances and deduplication software that can be run on regular backup servers. While deduplicating backup appliances primarily function as backup targets for existing backup software that organizations already own, a number of these can optionally host backup software and be deployed as an all-in-one solution.

However since the integration between backup software and underlying deduplicating appliance is minimal at best and non-existent at worst, DCIG elected not to evaluate these solutions. This lack of integration also factored into DCIG’s decision to name this Buyer’s Guide the Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide as opposed to just using the term Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide as levels of integration exist between the hardware and software that do not exist in these other solutions.

The appetite for implementing integrated backup appliances into organizations that do not already own them, or do and will need to expand their lineup, seems poised to only increase in the years to come. The good news is that regardless of organization’s size, if they are ready to move ahead now with implementing an integrated backup appliance, the number of products available coupled with the diversity of features they offer almost guarantees they will find a solution that meets their needs in this forthcoming DCIG Buyer’s Guide. Look for its release very soon!

Charley McMaster

About Charley McMaster

Charley McMaster is a Senior Research Analyst focused on the storage and data protection markets at DCIG. Charley covers DCIG’s Midrange Deduplicating Backup Appliance, and Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guides, with additional work in Integrated Backup, Hybrid Cloud Backup, and Virtual Server technologies.

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