While it wasn't the type of mega-launch EMC has made in recent years, the vendor did bring out Chief Operating Officer and President David Goulden, its top backup division executives and several large customers to push its new products. Still, there was nothing spectacular about the products and some new features -- such as NetWorker snapshot and VMware support -- were long overdue.
EMC executives did establish a theme around the event, emphasizing that it wants to help backup administrators work with application groups who sometimes take backup into their own hands. These commonly include Oracle database administrators (DBAs) and virtual machine (VM) admins.
"Customers don't trust their backup, so they end up rolling their own solutions in different parts of the organization," said Rob Emsley, senior director of product marketing for EMC's backup and recovery division. "They end up with what we call the 'accidental architecture,' where the backup team is not the only part of the IT organization involved with data protection. The virtual infrastructure team has often purchased individual applications for backup and recovery, and the application team is using their Oracle tools or SQL tools and using capacity the storage team has allocated to them.
"We want to move customers from accidental architecture to a more structured environment," Emsley said.
EMC's new systems include Data Domain DD2500, DD4200, DD4500 and DD7200 midrange devices with new processors and hardware enhancements that EMC claims make them four times faster and 10 times more scalable than the systems they replace. The new Data Domain systems also support 540 data streams -- three times as many as the previous midrange products -- to help customers consolidate backup and archive data.
"You never want to have more appliances than you need," Emsley said.
The DD2500 stores up to 133 TB usable capacity with an ingest speed of 5.3 TB per hour and 13.4 TB per hour with DD Boost optimization software. The DD4200 stores up to 189 TB of usable capacity with performance speeds of 10.2 TB per hour native and 22 TB per hour with DD Boost. The DD4500 has a maximum usable capacity of 285 TB and the same throughput as the DD4200. The DD7200 holds up to 428 TB with native throughput of 11.9 TB per hour and DD Boost speed of 26 TB per hour.
Data Domain deduplication appliances now support direct backup from SAP HANA Studio via Network File System. DD Boost for Oracle RMAN now supports Oracle Exadata backup and SAP running on Oracle. Support for these applications allows Oracle DBAs to control backups and disaster recovery.
EMC also continues to build Data Domain into an archiving platform as well as for backup, adding support for archiving applications from OpenText, IBM and Dell.
The launch includes Avamar 7 and NetWorker 8.1, which are sold as part of a Data Protection Suite, but remain separate applications. EMC added support for Isilon primary storage, Oracle and VMware to those apps. EMC also upgraded Mozy software, which helps small- and medium-sized businesses back up to the cloud.
Avamar, which is available as a software application or part of an appliance to provide client-side dedupe for VMs and remote offices, added support for file system and Network Data Backup Protocol (NDMP) backups to Data Domain. Avamar will also integrate better with VMware due to a vSphere plug-in that lets VM administrators manage image-level backups and recovery through VMware. EMC also added what it calls VM Instant Access, which allows admins to move a VM off the Data Domain appliance into production for quick restores.
The file system backup allows Avamar to protect EMC Isilon scale-out network-attached storage (NAS) systems through an Avamar NDMP Accelerator device that sits between the NAS array and an Avamar appliance in the data center.
With NetWorker 8.1, EMC added snapshot support for its VMAX and VNX arrays and RecoverPoint replication software. EMC also added DD Boost over Fibre Channel for NetWorker, which the vendor claims will deliver faster backups and restores than using a virtual tape library Fibre Channel option.
Emsley said EMC still cautions against using snapshots as the sole backup, but wants to make it available as a complementary option.
For Mozy, EMC added Active Directory (AD) integration to organize users into groups based on AD attributes or security groups, storage pooling so admins don't have to assign capacity to each machine, and keyless applications to deploy software without having to associate a unique key to each machine.
Is true convergence of EMC backup coming?
For all the convergence between products, EMC still has multiple backup apps at a time when customers are looking to consolidate data protection tools. Emsley said the vendor is working towards integration.
"The introduction of our Data Protection Suite last year was our first step to de-focus from product brands," he said. "We have plans to develop a converged solution and we'll start looking at the individual brands. Over the coming years, you will see less of our product brands."
Customers invited to the EMC launch said they are most interested in broader application and storage platform support.
Thomas Licciardello, vice president of technology operations at New York-based Teach For America, said he uses NetWorker for his main backup, Avamar for remote offices and Data Domain for dedupe. He recently acquired an Exadata appliance and worried he would need an additional backup product for that.
"I look forward to the integration I see here, especially the Exadata support," he said. "We just purchased Exadata and our Oracle reps told us, 'You have to go with ZFS because [Data Domain] is not supported.' So now we have a great comeback and we can continue without having to bring another backup product in and doing a mix-and-match."
Link Alander, chief information officer of Houston-based Lone Star College System, said his Oracle DBAs will be happy to have the ability to manage their own backups and recoveries.
"Our DBAs are using RMAN, and whenever there is an issue, you have to bring in those key backup people at critical moments," he said. "It will make a significant difference for Oracle DBAs to be able to manage backups and recoveries."
Alander said he is planning to move his active archives to Data Domain. "Archiving is a big challenge for us. We archive quite a bit of data and having that available on Data Domain will be a critical change in the way we approach it. We'll take off some tier-two and tier-three storage and move it to Data Domain. We have that sitting on primary storage now.
Ralf Rossol, storage and virtualization manager of technology infrastructure for South African financial services company Discovery Holdings, said he recently purchased Isilon and is happy to see Avamar's Isilon support. He said he has also been waiting for snapshot integration on VMAX. "We're getting away from backup admins having to do scripts."