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Dell backup portfolio expands with integrated appliances

New Dell backup appliances include an SMB model running AppAssure software and an enterprise system with CommVault Simpana.

Dell Inc.'s backup portfolio expanded today with the launch of two integrated backup appliances -- one based on its AppAssure software, the other with partner CommVault -- and an upgrade to the Quest NetVault Backup software that it recently acquired.

The announcements made at the Dell Storage Forum in Paris answer some, but not all of the questions around Dell's backup strategy in the wake of the company's acquisitions of AppAssure and Quest Software this year. By upgrading its appliance running CommVault Simpana, Dell signaled that partnership will continue, although Simpana can be considered competitive with NetVault Backup.

Dell's new appliances are the PowerVault DL4000 for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and the PowerVault DL2300 for enterprises and remote offices. The DL4000 is a 1U appliance running AppAssure 5.3 backup and disaster recovery software. It's Dell's first appliance based on software from AppAssure, which the company acquired in February.

AppAssure 5.3 provides deduplication, replication and snapshots. The appliance has 5.5 TB of usable capacity and includes two virtual machines (VMs) to protect critical applications.

The PowerVault DL2300 is an upgrade from the DL2200, and the fourth generation of Dell backup appliances running Simpana software dating to 2008.

Simpana 9 provides array-based snapshots, source-side and target deduplication, replication, and storage tiering. The system comes in two models: The value edition for branch offices scales from 12 TB to 52 TB and has 96 TB of dedupe capacity. The enterprise edition scales from 30 TB to 480 TB with 192 TB of dedupe capacity. The software is the same on both systems.

The DL2300 appliances are generally available. Pricing starts at around $30,000 for the value edition and around $35,000 for the enterprise edition. The DL4000 will be generally available in early 2013.

"In terms of functions, the 4000 and 2300 are similar, but they address two different markets," said Robert Amatruda, IDC's research director for data protection and recovery. "I think they have positioned them clearly. I suspect the 4000 will be pushed toward SMB and SME [small and medium-sized enterprise] customers for backup and recovery. It's not very scalable. The 2300 is more scalable. It uses CommVault code and addresses larger customers."

The DL2300 and DL4000 appliances combine backup software, media server and backup target in one box, removing the need for separate servers and a disk backup target appliance. Backup software leader Symantec Corp. has embraced the integrated appliance model over the past year, and the Dell backup appliances will compete with Symantec NetBackup 5220 and Backup Exec 3660 appliances.

"Dell clearly is on the move in data protection," Amatruda said. "It has been pretty quick in using its intellectual property in a rapidly growing area. The backup appliance market is growing like gangbusters. Plus, Dell has been quick in productizing Quest Software that makes it competitive against CommVault and Symantec."

Dell closed its $2.4 billion Quest Software acquisition in September. Quest NetVault Backup 9 adds support for Microsoft Windows 2012 and SQL Server 2012, Novell Open Enterprise Server 11, Data Domain DD Boost, and file recovery from VMs.

NetVault Backup will integrate with the NetVault Extended Architecture, or NetVault XA, GUI that provides a management interface for other Quest software, including vRanger VM backup and NetVault SmartDisk deduplication. NetVault Backup 9 will be available in December.

Upgrades to Compellent and MD3, too

Dell is also previewing Storage Center 6.3, the 64-bit operating system for the Dell Compellent Storage Controller. Storage Center 6.3 will support multisite synchronous replication, 16 Gbps Fibre Channel, Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, and Windows Server 2012.

Storage Center 6.3 will enter beta early next year and is expected to be generally available around mid-2013.

Dell also improved its PowerVault MD3 direct-attached-storage line. It now has dynamic disk pooling to reduce the recovery time of drive failures, IP-based remote replication, and support for VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration, or VAAI. Systems can do up to 512 snapshots per system, compared to the previous 256 snapshots per system.

"We added a virtualization layer for dynamic disk pooling so data can be spread across multiple drives or faster rebuilds," said Peter Waugh, Dell's marketing director. "Now the controller sees one big virtual pool that is spread across a large number of drives."

The PowerVault MD3 is generally available.

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