The business case for organizations with petabytes of file data under management to classify and then place it across multiple tiers of storage has never been greater. By distributing this data across disk, flash, tape and the cloud, they stand to realize significant cost savings. The catch is finding a cost-effective solution that makes it easier to administer and manage file data than simply storing it all on flash storage. This is where a solution such as what Quantum now offers come into play.
Today I continue to reveal the Top 10 most read blog entries on DCIG’s website in 2011 with these four (4) entries typifying the two extremes of topics that DCIG’s readers tend to read the most. At one end of the spectrum are two forward looking blog entries on topics that every organization are examining now: the cloud and virtual server backup. At the other end of the spectrum are two older blog entries on the topics of cable labeling and encryption for which organizations continue to need relevant information.
Backup to disk is now seen as “The” solution for any company looking to solve its backup problems. Factor in deduplication as part of the disk-based backup solution and it is easy for companies to believe that they are well on their way to solving their backup problems. To a certain degree, that’s true. Introducing disk almost always solves the immediate corporate pain of failed backups while shortening their backup windows. In fact, I am only aware of a few, isolated instances where that is not the case.
Now that this agreement between EMC and Quantum is out in the open, the real question becomes what does Quantum hope to gain from this relationship? On the surface, it appears this agreement puts EMC and Quantum at loggerheads in the rapidly growing space of deduplication. While EMC and Quantum will use different hardware, the software that drives their respective disk systems will be based on Quantum’s technology. In this respect, much of the functionality found in the software will be the same, including the policy-based deduplication I detailed in an earlier blog, though Quantum is putting more emphasis on features such as direct tape creation given its continued focus on integration of disk and tape resources within the enterprise.
One of the more agonizing choices that some companies face when looking to implement the same deduplication scheme across the enterprise is quantifying which version of deduplication to use: inline or post-processing. From a purist’s viewpoint, inline (deduplicating data as it is ingested) is sometimes viewed as the best approach since data is deduplicated immediately as it is ingested.
Quantum is aiming for the enterprise with its deduplication technology and looks to make a serious run at the enterprise datacenter with its DXi7500. Designed to anchor Quantum’s deduplication strategy, companies can use the scalable DXi7500 when it is receiving replicated data from Quantum’s DXi3500 or DXi5500 appliances in remote offices; replicating to disaster recovery site(s); or deduplicating terabytes of data during nightly backup jobs in the datacenter. To accomplish this, Quantum designed the DXi7500 to become the focal point for its DXi portfolio.
Bringing backup data from remote and branch offices back to a home office is a particularly thorny problem that enterprises continue to face. Directly sending nightly full, incremental or differential backup jobs over a wide area network (WAN) connection back to the home office can saturate the WAN link and cause backups to exceed backup windows and result in failed backups. However the current procedure of backing up data to disk or tape at the remote site perpetuates the problem of how to most efficiently and securely transmit backup data back to the home office or disaster recovery site.
It is for these types of reasons that Quantum’s field marketing and sales organization has developed what it refers to as its regional solutions specialists or “Tiger” teams to help businesses determine what size DXi deduplicating appliance is the best fit for its customer environments. When dealing with Quantum customers, their mission is to ensure and verify every customer has a positive experience with Quantum’s deduplicating appliances. To do this, a core tenant of their responsibilities is doing the front end analysis that includes customer interviews and site surveys.
A majority of organizations still rely on tape as their primary means of data protection. However, with the increasing popularity of disk-based backup, companies are repurposing tape for their offsite data storage and longer term data retention needs. As they do so, new requirements for tape encryption and encryption key management are emerging. I recently had conversations with two individuals at Quantum Corporation to discuss these trends in data protection and how Quantum is responding to them.