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Data backup 2013 news dominated by cloud and modern data protection

Dave Raffo

The backup market resembled a construction site in 2013, with vendors furiously building on-ramps to the cloud to complement on-premises data protection. There was also a lot of talk about fixing backup and replacing aging technology with more modern data protection tools. One of those tools -- Linear Tape File System (LTFS)

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-- showed signs of maturing. The larger vendors stayed away from acquisitions in 2013, although some smaller players paired up to broaden their focus.

Here is a look at the biggest news stories and trends from 2013:

All backup roads point to the cloud

Nearly every data protection vendor in 2013 took steps to make it easier or cheaper to move data to the cloud for backup, disaster recovery or both. These initiatives included a new pricing model for cloud backup software vendor Asigra, new cloud capabilities for virtual machine (VM) backup vendors Veeam Software, PHD Virtual and Nakivo, cloud-based management by CommVault in Simpana 10, and services based on backup hardware from Quantum and ExaGrid.

There was also a rise in products for backing up cloud applications such as Salesforce.com and Google Apps, and Cisco, Riverbed and Zetta released products to move data faster over the WAN into clouds for backup and disaster recovery (DR).

EMC placed its Mozy cloud application under its enterprise storage umbrella and made it part of its Data Protection Suite, along with Data Domain, Avamar and NetWorker.

The notable exception was Symantec, which said it would shut down its Backup Exec.cloud service. Still, the vendor said it would focus more on cloud-based file-sharing and file-synch features.

Related news stories:

Cloud backup options growing like weeds

New approaches to cloud backup dominate latest backup software offerings

Acronis takes backup software to the cloud

Nakivo makes tweaks for cloud providers

Cloud among top backup trends

Asigra initiates recovery-based licensing for cloud backup software

CommVault adds global dedupe, cloud analytics to Simpana 10

Backupify updates cloud-to-cloud backup for Google Apps 

Cloud-to-cloud backup market growing fast

Cisco router bundles Asigra cloud backup software

Riverbed expands Whitewater cloud backup platform

Veeam VM backups now go to the cloud

If backup can't be cool, it can at least be modern

The need to fundamentally change backup gained a lot of attention in 2013, with new data protection methods gaining in popularity.

Even backup software and hardware leader EMC took a "backup is broken" stance and highlighted the need for more application-aware data protection.

Industry experts also rallied around emerging technologies -- such as continuous data protection (CDP), snapshots and replication -- to emphasize instant recovery rather than backing up.

Actifio continued to make gains while pushing its copy data management approach to backup, and now has Hitachi Data Systems and EMC using the term.

Vendors even took new shots at data deduplication -- a relatively new but already mature technology -- with next-generation products from Hewlett-Packard, Sepaton, Quantum, ExaGrid and EMC.

One modern area of backup remains a struggle for vendors and IT managers: how to protect data that comes into an organization on smartphones and tablets. This is still a drawing board item for many entering 2014.

Related news stories:

Forget backup -- concentrate on instant recovery

Actifio's copy data management goes out of band

Actifio: Welcome to copy data management, EMC

EMC backup VP wants more native backups

HP goes virtual withStoreOnce

Hitatchi Data Systems goes after copy data

Sepaton schedules VirtuoSO debut for dedupe

Quantum launches DXi6800 dedupe box

EMC updates backup products for DBAs, virtual admins

ExaGrid builds bigger dedupe boxes

IT struggles with backing up BYOD data

Lots of mergers and acquisitions, little money changes hands

There was a fair amount of 2013 backup acquisitions, although none of the billion-dollar-type deals you find in other technology sectors. Backup acquisitions these days tend to be small and sometimes unconventional deals involving small companies looking to grow by combining forces.

For instance, Insight Venture Partners bought controlling interest of integrated backup appliance vendor Unitrends in November. Six weeks later, Unitrends acquired PHD Virtual -- another company in Insight Venture Partners' investment portfolio. Virtual backup specialist PHD made its own acquisition in April, picking up cloud disaster recovery startup VirtualSharp Software.

Overland Storage and Tandberg pooled resources after both companies fell on hard times. Tandberg filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and Overland suffered through years of declining revenue and money-losing quarters, so the two merged in a last-ditch effort to save each other.

Executives from Syncsort's data protection division bought out their group with help of private investors to break from the larger Syncsort data integration company. The spin-off is known as Syncsort DP now, with a new name likely to follow in 2014.

In the most traditional backup acquisition of the year, hard-disk giant Western Digital bought backup software vendor Arkeia to complement its desktop network-attached storage product line.

Another 2013 backup news story involved an acquisition that didn't happen. FalconStor, a software vendor that has fallen on hard times, put itself up for sale in late 2012. It failed to find a buyer, and new CEO Gary Quinn announced in Aug. 2013 that FalconStor would go ahead on its own.

Related news stories:

Unitrends aims at virtual backup, cloud with PHD acquisition

PHD Virtual targets cloud DR testing with VirtualSharp

Overland, Tandberg merge their struggling fortunes

Syncsort data protection sets out on its own 

Western Digital buys Arkeia, will bundle software with SMB backup boxes

FalconStor CEO: We're no longer for sale

Symantec takes more backward steps with Backup Exec

Symantec's Backup Exec problem was the biggest backup story of 2012, and repercussions carried into 2013. Symantec remained behind schedule for making its promised changes and adding platform support to Backup Exec 2012, and customers continued to grumble.

While the company hopes to finally get Backup Exec 2012 right with a release early in 2014, it also chafed its cloud customers and channel partners with news in November that it will discontinue the Backup Exec.cloud service. Symantec gave a year's notice of the cloud service shutdown, but customers will likely have to spend extra to switch backups over to a new service or an on-premises product.

Related news stories:

Customers still waiting for Symantec to fix Backup Exec 2012

Backup Exec.cloud customers, partners look for new backup products

Symantec planning platform support for backup apps

Symantec to discontinue Backup Exec.cloud

Tape: Still not dead

Tape made technology advancements in 2013, even if its market share continued to drop. Vendors are finding better ways to incorporate LTFS, including Spectra Logic's BlackPearl Deep Storage Appliance object-based storage system that uses LTFS on the back end. SpectraLogic claims BlackPearl can store data forever because the object storage and RESTful interface will allow organizations to read it with whatever formats are used in the future.

Quantum also added LTFS tape support to its vmPRO VM backup software, allowing customers to back up VMs directly to tape or in a disk-to-disk-to-tape process. Tape market leader Oracle rolled out LTFS software that works across entire libraries instead of just drives running on single cartridges. Also, QStar Technologies added LTFS support across all the tape drives and libraries in its QStar Archive Manager and Archive Replicator software.

It will be worth watching in 2014 to see if these products can jump-start LTFS adoption, which has not yet taken off.

Related news stories:

LTO-6 passes LTO-5 adoption rate in declining tape market

LTFS has yet to find its market sweet spot

SpectraLogic launches BlackPearl object storage appliance

Quantum adds LTFS tape support to vmPRO

Private clouds vs. tape backups -- how they stack up

EMC wants to convert tape users to disk with mainframe library


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