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EMC Data Domain backup -- addition by subtraction?

EMC rolls out bigger, faster Data Domain system, discontinues separate global dedupe and archiving products, and adds tape support for Avamar.

LAS VEGAS -- EMC this week launched a bigger, faster Data Domain data deduplication disk backup box and Avamar 6.1 with greater application support at EMC World 2012. But the vendor failed to announce that it is discontinuing its Data Domain Global Deduplication Array (GDA) and Data Domain Archiver products.

Aside from dropping Data Domain GDA and Archiver, EMC also quietly added LTO tape support for Avamar, while boasting at the EMC World conference that it has helped more than 1,000 customers go tapeless for backups.

EMC claims the DD990 can backup up to 31 TB per hour with DD Boost software and 15 TB per hour without DD Boost. It can store up to 65 PB of logical capacity. That compares to 14.7 TB per hour with DD Boost, 8.1 TB per hour without DD Boost  and 14.2 PB of logical capacity with the previously largest Data Domain box, the DD890.

EMC added DD Boost support for its Greenplum data analytics platform as well as Oracle and Quest software, as well as strengthened Data Domain’s regulation and security with Extended Retention software.

Nothing about Data Domain GDA or Archiver appeared in EMC’s news releases, and those products were not mentioned in a press conference highlighting the new backup products. But Rob Emsley, senior marketing director for EMC’s backup group, said GDA and Archiver software are no longer necessary because of the Data Domain enhancements.

EMC launched the Data Domain GDA in April 2010. The latest version allowed dedupe across two DD890 controllers. Emsley said the global deduplication capabilities remain in the DD990, which is larger and faster than the multi-node GDA. “The DD990 is big enough and fast enough that you don’t need GDA,” he said. “We’ve exceeded performance and capacity, so it didn’t make sense to keep GDA.”

However, EMC still lacks global dedupe for its smaller systems, which would allow customers to start small and grow without having to migrate data or manage multiple separate disk arrays. 

Backup archiving

DD Archiver launched in early 2011. It was a DD860 with the ability to allocate data among tiers and policy management software for moving data from active to archive tiers. The new Extended Retention software enables internal tiering and a logical capacity of up to 65 PB for long-term retention or backup data for the DD860 and 990 systems. “With the Extended Retention software, we can offer what we had with DD Archiver,” Emsley said.

Analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group points out that Data Domain is archiving backups, rather than doing classic archiving. “My definition of pure archiving is you back up data, and you archive based on when primary data is stale,” he said. “You take stale data off primary storage and move it into the archive. Data Domain has made it easier to keep backups longer, but it’s still archiving backup data.”

Avamar supports LTO, SAP, SQL

Emsley said Avamar’s support for LTO was driven by customer demand.  Avamar, which provides client-side deduplication, previously supported only disk backups, leaving NetWorker as EMC’s only tape backup option. Emsley said there are Avamar customers who want to move data off to tape for long-term retention. Other enhancements to Avamar 6.1 include support for SAP, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server 2012, and more Microsoft Hyper-V features.

The extended support is part of EMC’s plan to integrate Data Domain’s target dedupe product with Avamar’s host dedupe. That began a year ago when EMC added DD Boost support for Avamar. The idea is to allow more data deduped by Avamar to be moved to Data Domain appliances.

“EMC’s trying to broaden the world of Avamar support so everything that goes to Data Domain for backup also goes to Avamar,” said analyst Ray Lucchesi, president of Silverton Consulting.

BJ Jenkins, president of EMC’s backup recovery systems division, said while competitors focus on hardware or software, EMC has an “end-to-end solution” with Avamar providing dedupe at the client and Data Domain deduping at the source.  But competitors – most notably Symantec – are bundling dedupe and backup in one appliance in a more integrated fashion than EMC, which uses two distinct dedupe products.

EMC is working on integrating Data Domain, Avamar and NetWorker software as much as possible, but that is expected to be a long process and complete integration may never happen. Integration is complicated because the three products were acquired separately by EMC.

“They’ve integrated Avamar to the degree that you can manage Data Domain and Avamar from the same console, but they use distinctly different algorithms, and that can’t be changed,” analyst Taneja said.

“Avamar and Data Domain were created to deal with distinct use cases, or different customer problems,” Jenkins said. “Data Domain was built from the ground up to be a repository for backups or to help make backups more efficient where the data rested. Avamar was created as more of a traditional backup application. It works well for desktop, laptop and remote offices. That’s how we came to have two products.”

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