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EMC Avamar data dedupe software gets a DD Boost

EMC makes its two backup dedupe products work better together, adding DD Boost support for Avamar 6.0 client-side dedupe backup; also tightens Avamar’s integration with VMware.

EMC Corp. today upgraded its Avamar client-side data dedupe software, adding support for Data Domain target-side dedupe, improving its back up of VMware virtual machines by taking advantage of recent vSphere advances, and doubling the capacity of its Data Store hardware.

EMC acquired Avamar for $165 million in 2006 to make its first move into dedupe, then bought Data Domain in 2009 for $2.1 billion. Avamar does dedupe at the backup client, while Data Domain systems handle target dedupe. Now EMC is taking steps to improve compatibility between the two products by extending support of its DD Boost software to Avamar.

DD Boost is a programmable library that gets embedded into the software stack as a plug-in to backup applications. It is designed to speed backups by distributing the deduplication process between Data Domain target appliances and backup servers or—in Avamar’s case—clients.

EMC launched DD Boost last May for Symantec Corp.’s NetBackup and Backup Exec applications, and added support for EMC NetWorker in October. 

Rob Emsley, senior director of product marketing for EMC backup and recovery systems, said that the addition of DD Boost support makes Avamar more suitable for enterprise applications such as Oracle, Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, and VMware images. “It allows Avamar customers to protect data applications by leveraging Data Domain in a way that couldn’t be done before,” he said.

EMC’s strategy is to have Data Domain customers use Avamar instead of competitors’ products to protect VMware hypervisors and data stored at remote and branch offices, network-attached storage systems, desktops and laptops, as well as enterprise applications.

New VMware backup procedure

EMC has also integrated Avamar with VMware vStorage APIs and tightened its integration with vCenter. It changed the way Avamar uses Changed Block Tracking (CBT) to recover files and virtual machines, and added unique proxy management to load balance across proxy servers and flexible image recovery options to restore individual files from image backups.

Previously, Avamar recovered either a full file or full VMDK image. Now, it tracks deltas of changed blocks and restores only the unique elements needed to rebuild the file or VMDK for faster restores.

Integration with the vStorage APIs lets customers install an Avamar agent on a proxy host, treat it as a backup client and run backups from there to the Avamar Data Store. This lets Avamar take advantage of VMware’s ability to run the proxy server in a virtual machine and dynamically add volumes to the proxy without moving data across the network.

Avamar also doubled the maximum usable capacity of its Data Store to 124 TB with eight server nodes. Single nodes are available with 1.3 TB, 2.6 TB, 3.9 TB and 7.8 TB, and can be used in clusters of three to 16 nodes.

List pricing for Avamar 6.0 starts at $25,000 for 1 TB of usable capacity for Avamar Data Store hardware and $9,000 per terabyte of usable capacity when used with Data Domain.

Bringing client and target dedupe together

EMC calls DD Boost support for Avamar the first integration with Data Domain, although they remain separate products. Avamar clients cannot back up data directly to Data Domain hardware without using the Avamar Data Store. But DD Boost support for Avamar can simplify backups for customers using both products.

“Data Domain and Avamar were two trains on separate tracks since EMC acquired Data Domain,” IDC analyst Robert Amatruda said. “It felt like Avamar was much more siloed as endpoint protection. EMC has been able to expand that infrastructure and tied it to Data Domain.”

EMC is the backup deduplication leader with Data Domain and Avamar, but its backup competitors have beefed up their dedupe efforts over the past year. Symantec launched NetBackup appliances, packaging backup and dedupe software with a media server. CommVault added client-side dedupe to go with its target dedupe on Simpana 9, and Quantum refreshed its entire platform of DXi disk target dedupe systems.

Amatruda said Symantec remains the biggest threat to EMC, but said Symantec is playing EMC’s game by moving into appliances.

“Remember, EMC is essentially a hardware company,” he said. “Symantec has not cut its teeth with appliances. It has to be taken seriously, but EMC has a heck of a lead with appliances.”

Amatruda said there is merit to the CommVault approach of putting source and target dedupe in one software application, but he questions whether current Data Domain customers want to rip and replace their systems for Simpana instead of adding Avamar for remote sites. “With an appliance, you can keep your current software processes and people without going through an upgrade or expansion,” he said. “The data protection market is resistant to rapid change and rip and replace.”

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