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Select a data backup appliance with robust functionality

Many leading appliance-based data backup systems include functions such as backup, archiving, disaster recovery and replication, and they can be used for test/development and analytics.

Choosing the best data backup appliance for your needs will depend on your organization's unique data management requirements. Although many integrated backup appliances have similar functionality, the brief descriptions below can help you differentiate between the various products.

Arcserve

Unified Data Protection, or UDP 6.5, is Arcserve's flagship backup platform, and it's available as software or in a range of integrated data backup appliances. Marketed as the UDP 8000 series, Arcserve sells four models in 1U (8100 and 8200) or 2U (8300 and 8400) form factors. The entry model, 8100, comes with 6 TB of raw storage capacity, supplemented with 120 GB of flash SSD. At the high end, the 8400 has 80 TB of raw capacity and 1.2 TB of SSD. Local protection is RAID 5 for the 8100 and 8200 models, or RAID 6 for the 8300 and 8400 models. Systems can be extended through the use of additional expansion disk shelves and system dynamic RAM (DRAM).

UDP appliances offer the same features as the UDP software, including global source-side deduplication, replication and high availability, which is preinstalled. Other features, which have less relevance in the appliance model -- including full tape backup and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) or NetApp Hhardware snapshots -- are optional.

Arcserve UDP appliances can replicate between each other and the public cloud using the Recovery Point Server feature. Virtual machines (VMs) can be recovered quickly using the Instant Virtual Machine feature that enables a VM to run natively from the appliance.

Editor's note

Using extensive research into the data backup market, TechTarget editors focused on integrated backup appliances that include hardware and software that are provided by the same vendor. Our research included data from TechTarget surveys, as well as reports from other respected research firms, including Gartner.

Barracuda Networks

Barracuda Networks offers a range of integrated backup appliances, either as encrypted hardware products or as virtual appliances. Encrypted appliances use self-encrypting drives, which are unreadable once removed from the backup server chassis.

Barracuda sells 12 standard data backup appliance models. On the low end, the Barracuda Backup 190 includes 1 TB of usable capacity in a desktop form factor. The high end of the platform is the Backup 1090, a 4U server with 112 TB of usable capacity and local RAID protection.

RAID versions depend on the model level, but range from RAID 1 on the lower models to RAID 10 and RAID 60 for the largest-capacity systems. Encrypted appliances range from Backup 6090, which offers 12 TB, to four models of the Backup 10090, which offer 96 TB. The virtual appliance supports Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and cloud deployments with AWS and Barracuda's cloud platform.

Barracuda backup appliances are not scale-out, but include a range of options. Standard features across all models include global, inline data deduplication; the ability to perform physical-to-virtual recoveries; LiveBoot, both local and in the public cloud; and replication of backup data to the public cloud. The LiveBoot feature enables users to instantly boot a VM from the Barracuda platform.

All appliances can be managed through a single portal. Pricing is based on an appliance and capacity model, with all features and basic support provided.

Additional chargeable features include cloud storage via Barracuda's cloud storage portal and the ability to protect software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, such as Microsoft Office 365. Instant Replacement provides a next-business-day replacement appliance in the case of a disaster, prepopulated with data from the Barracuda Cloud.

Cohesity

Cohesity's integrated backup appliances are based on a scale-out, node-based architecture that the company describes as hyper-converged secondary storage. Customers can choose Cohesity-branded hardware or servers from HPE, including the ProLiant DL360, or Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

The Cohesity C2000 series of arrays is offered in four configurations. The C2105 entry model is a four-node configuration, with 6 TB per node. The high-end C2605 is a four-node system, with 30 TB per node. Because Cohesity uses a hyper-converged architecture, rather than traditional dual-controller architecture, you need a minimum of four nodes for data protection across the cluster. Erasure coding is implemented across all nodes, allowing a cluster to be expanded by adding hardware. The distributed file system implements global deduplication and compression to optimize backup image data.

The Cohesity platform supports a range of storage protocols -- including NFS, SMB and Simple Storage Service -- which enable the platform to be used as a storage target. Backup integration is supported on a range of hypervisors, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix AHV, as well as traditional database platforms, including Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.

Cohesity DataPlatform -- the software that drives the appliance -- is available as a virtual appliance for remote office branch office (ROBO) or edge use cases. DataPlatform is also available as a public cloud instance, which enables IT organizations to move data into the public cloud for backup -- using a feature called CloudArchive -- and disaster recovery purposes. Cloud-based data can also be used for test/dev and analytics work through CloudReplicate.

DataPlatform integrates natively with Pure Storage FlashArray//M and FlashArray//X products using a feature called SAN Protect, which works directly with volume snapshots. A similar offering, called NAS Protect, is available for Pure's FlashBlade. DataPlatform also integrates with NetApp storage appliances.

DataPlatform offers instant VM restores via DataProtect. These can run directly on the appliance, with no limit to the number of VMs that can be simultaneously recovered.

Commvault

Commvault recently introduced appliances under its HyperScale brand. Commvault supplies the software and hardware for HyperScale and also sells in conjunction with hardware partners. Customers can buy it from Cisco -- rebranded as ScaleProtect on UCS -- or as reference architectures in conjunction with vendors such as HPE. As a scale-out product, HyperScale requires a minimum of three nodes and expands in three-node increments. Rather than build a scale-out file system from scratch, Commvault partnered with Red Hat for both the operating system and the GlusterFS file system for HyperScale.

Individual node capacities scale from 16 TB to 40 TB of raw disk capacity per node, supplemented with 150 GB of flash storage and 2 TB of nonvolatile memory express PCIe SSD used to store the backup database and index cache. Each node has 96 GB of DDR4 DRAM.

The Commvault Data Platform is the basis of HyperScale. Data Platform supports the standard hypervisor platforms, public cloud platforms and common databases. HyperScale software also supports applications such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, as well as SaaS backups of Office 365.

Users who want to maintain their existing long-term backups can migrate data into an appliance from hardware platforms that use Commvault software and maintain backup consistency if transitioning from a do-it-yourself to an appliance-based model.

The HyperScale appliance is subscription-based. Commvault offers a no-cost hardware refresh for customers upon subscription renewal.  

Dell EMC

Dell EMC offers four backup appliances under its Integrated Data Protection Appliances (IDPA) brand. Products scale from the smallest DP5300 model, which provides up to 130 TB of usable capacity, to the top-end DP8800, which offers a maximum of 1 PB of usable capacity. The IDPA offerings are delivered as a single 40U rack, potentially making them a challenge to deploy in smaller ROBO environments.

All Dell EMC products assume a 50-1 deduplication ratio in terms of the logical capacity supported by the products. Three of the four offerings are capable of using cloud storage, based on a 2-1 ratio, where the cloud supports twice the capacity of on-premises storage. Cloud tiering supports hyperscalers, including AWS and Microsoft Azure. There is also support for tiering to Elastic Cloud Storage on Dell and Dell cloud storage through Virtustream.

IDPA offerings are rated on their throughput, or ingest speed, as well as capacity. This is a reflection of the products from Dell EMC's heritage, including Networker, Avamar and Data Domain. These products were designed to deliver high levels of deduplication, as well as a wide range of application and hypervisor backup support for vSphere and Hyper-V. Supported databases include Oracle, SAP, SQL Server, Sybase, MySQL, MongoDB and IBM DB2. Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange are supported, as well as Hadoop environments and Dell EMC's Greenplum data warehouse.

Rubrik

Rubrik offers a range of hardware and software backup appliances. Hardware appliances are offered in five model types, ranging from the entry-level R334, with three nodes and 36 TB of capacity, to the R3410, with four nodes and 120 TB of capacity. The R528 is a special configuration for environments with additional security requirements, such as Federal Information Processing Standards 140-2 compliance. Rubrik products are also available on hardware from server vendors, including HPE, Cisco and Lenovo.

The underlying Rubrik scale-out file system is distributed across all nodes in a cluster. This provides features such as policy-driven backup definitions, analytics and instant search. Backup support extends across the major hypervisor platforms, including vSphere, Hyper-V and Nutanix AHV, as well as databases, including Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, and backup from Windows and Linux systems. The Rubrik platform integrates with Pure Storage FlashArray//X and FlashArray//M products to automate the creation and backup of volume-based snapshots.

Rubrik Edge supports ROBO environments, as well as all of the physical appliance features and platforms. Rubrik also supports a cloud instance of the software. This enables data to be replicated and recovered in the public cloud. And IT organizations can do cloud-native backups with no on-premises hardware, or they can simply use the cloud as an extended repository for the long-term retention of backup data.

The Rubrik platform can run recovered VMs live on the hardware appliance. This Live Mount capability also supports Microsoft SQL Server.

Unitrends

Unitrends sells 12 data backup appliance models as part of its Recovery Series of products. These appliances range from the entry-level 602 model, with 2 TB of raw capacity and a 1U short chassis form factor, to the high-end 946S, a 4U appliance with 180 TB of raw capacity. Eight of the S models are supplemented with NAND flash SSDs. A virtual appliance can run on customer hardware, as a VM or in the public cloud.

Unitrends backup software supports Linux, Windows, macOS and Unix variants, including HP-UX, Solaris, AIX, FreeBSD and IRIX. These appliances also support Exchange and SQL Server, SharePoint and Microsoft Active Directory applications; VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and Xen Server hypervisors; and Oracle, MySQL, Postgres databases; and IBM Notes. The number of platforms supported is possibly the most comprehensive in the market.

Unitrends offers cloud and disaster recovery as a service through a private backup environment, called Unitrends Cloud. There is also appliance integration to AWS and Microsoft Azure. Instant recovery of VMs and physical backups is available in physical-to-virtual, virtual-to-virtual or virtual-to-physical configurations.

As long as an active support agreement is in place, after four years, Unitrends will swap out the old appliance for a newer version of the same model.  

Veritas Technologies

Veritas offers four appliance models: the NetBackup Virtual Appliance, the NetBackup 5240 Appliance, and the larger NetBackup 5330 and 5340 appliances. The company designed its integrated backup appliances around the master and media server model that exists on the NetBackup platform. A master server acts as the database, metadata store and scheduler, while media servers manage the backup data itself. This architecture provides scalability for large environments. The Virtual Appliance and 5330 and 5340 appliances are designed to be media servers only, while the 5240 can act as a media or master server, or both.

The 5240 appliance is a 2U enclosure that scales from 4 TB to a maximum of 294 TB, with up to six expansion shelves. The larger 5330 appliance scales from 229 TB to 1.37 PB, and the 5340 appliance scales from 120 TB to 1.92 PB. Both the 5330 and 5340 models are also available as dual appliances in a high-availability configuration.

NetBackup software supports Windows, Linux and Unix native operating systems; vSphere and Hyper-V hypervisors; and Oracle, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and SAP databases. Direct integration with storage array snapshots is supported with Dell EMC, HPE, Hitachi, IBM and NetApp platforms. 

NetBackup software also allows data to be backed up to public clouds from AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google. Data can be duplicated before being stored in the cloud using NetBackup CloudCatalyst. 

This was last published in May 2018

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