Dell backup integration begins with NetVault, DR4100 dedupe appliance

Dell backup products come from various acquisitions, but at least NetVault and DR4100 now work together.

Dell this week launched Rapid Data Access technology that integrates the deduplication and backup process between its NetVault backup software and DR4100 backup target device.

Rapid Data Access (RDA) is available as a plug-in for NetVault Backup and optimizes dedupe between the software and target appliance. Dell claimed NetVault with RDA and the DR4100 can ingest 7.5 TB of data per hour. The combination enables source-side dedupe with NetVault to reduce the amount of data moved over the network to the appliance.

Eric Endebrock, Dell's director of product management for data protection software, said the vendor plans to add similar integration between the DR4100 and its vRanger VMware backup software early next year.

RDA is similar to Symantec's OpenStorage Technology, Data Domain DD Boost, Hewlett Packard Catalyst and Quantum DXi Accent, which are also designed to speed the ingest rate of deduped data.

These plug-ins improve communication and performance between the media server and the backup disk target. They dedupe data on the application and backup servers before moving to the disk target.

"These are all about creating a federated deduplication model," Gartner storage analyst Dave Russell said. "They offload chunking and fingerprinting of the data payload to drive down the amount of data transmitted over the network to the backup appliance and increase the throughput. They allow these appliances to place less stress on the network and ingest data faster."

Dell launched its first dedupe appliance -- the DR4000 -- in early 2012 with deduplication acquired from Ocarina Networks, and upgraded to the DR4100 this year.

DR4100 appliances come in capacities of 9 TB, 18 TB and 27 TB after RAID. They are certified to work with Dell vRanger and AppAssure software as well as backup applications from Symantec, EMC, IBM, CommVault, Veeam Software and CA Technologies. Although Dell only has RDA support for NetVault today with plans to support vRanger next year, Endebrock said "there's nothing that stops us from supporting other vendors."

There will be no charge for RDA and current customers can add the plug-in to get the feature.

Until recently, Dell didn't have any backup technologies to integrate. Dell backup products all came from partners. The current Dell backup portfolio comes from acquisitions of backup software vendors AppAssure and Quest Software and data deduplication startup Ocarina Networks. NetVault and vRanger software came from the 2013 Quest acquisition.

"Last year, we said, 'Dell doesn't own anything in this space, they partner for everything,'" Russell said. "Now they have their own backup appliances and software, and this creates more of a value proposition for them."

Endebrock said Dell has about 80,000 data protection customers -- mostly using vRanger -- and is the sixth largest backup vendor when all of its products are combined.

Enderbrock said further integration is planned for Dell's backup products. When asked if NetVault would be placed on an integrated appliance similar to Symantec's NetBackup and Backup Exec appliances, he said: "Stay tuned."

Dell does sell AppAssure with deduplication on an integrated appliance, but that uses a PowerVault server rather than the DR4100.

It's unclear how much integration can be done between the software applications. Before Dell acquired Quest last year, Quest designed a NetVault Extended Architecture (XA) interface to manage NetVault and vRanger through one console. Dell has scrapped the XA interface because of scaling problems.

"Integration takes many forms," Endebrock said. "You may see a common back end that does dedupe across them and serves as a common repository where you can do things once and size them effectively. We're not subscribing to a single pane of glass. That has been seen as a panacea, but has never worked and has never been achieved."

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