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Syncsort adds ECX for NetApp snapshot catalogues

Syncsort moves deeper into data protection by adding ECX for NetApp snapshot catalogues, VMware objects.

Syncsort today expanded its data protection technology for NetApp storage with the release of ECX Enterprise Catalog, which makes it easier for customers to search for and restore files inside of snapshots.

ECX lets customers catalog and search snapshots created with NetApp's Data ONTAP operating system. It also catalogs VMware objects, including virtual machines, data stores and logical unit numbers (LUNs). ECX works independently of Syncsort's other data protection software, including NetApp Syncsort Integrated Backup, which consists of Syncsort DPX software optimized for NetApp.

ECX catalogs SnapVault and SnapMirror volumes and the files inside them, along with aggregates, qtrees and snapshots that are part of Data ONTAP. ECX catalogs every instance of a file, using the file's metadata. Instead of having to mount a snapshot and find a file manually for restores, ECX has a rapid search feature to find files.

"People like snapshots, but the tricky part is, when it comes to recovery, it's hard to find where anything is," said Peter Eicher, senior product marketing manager at Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based Syncsort. "Sometimes they have thousands of snapshots and thousands of volumes spread across dozens of locations. You always hope to have a catalog in your backup environment, but you don't have that if you're using NetApp snapshots."

ECX also provides reports on storage utilization, storage protection, file analytics and system management. These reports can point out if snapshots have optimal protection and identify old snapshots that can be deleted to save space. For VMware, ECX identifies virtual machines that have not been turned on or have been suspended for a specified time period, as well as orphaned LUNs.

ECX installs as a VMware virtual appliance. After the initial install, customers can add nodes to it and create cataloguing policies and schedules. Eicher said there are separate policies for high-level objects such as snapshots and low-level objects such as files and directories. ECX can require several days to do an initial scan of low-level objects if there are millions of files to scan.

ECX is sold through node-based licensing. Customers can license it for NetApp, VMware or both. Price per node for NetApp depends on the array, starting at $5,000 per node for the entry-level FAS2000 series. VMware pricing begins at $800 per ESX node.

Unlike most large storage vendors, NetApp does not have its own backup application. The vendor relies on space-efficient snapshots for data protection on its arrays. That makes it a good partner for Syncsort, but Syncsort is not the only backup software partner that works closely with NetApp. Symantec, IBM, CommVault and Asigra also have software that supports NetApp's snapshot and replication technology. NetApp has an OEM deal with CommVault to sell CommVault's SnapProtect technology. NetApp does not resell Syncsort software.

Colm Keegan, senior analyst at Storage Switzerland, said Syncsort can expand its protection to other vendors because ECX is built on a RESTful application programming interface (API). "If they want to bring in other snapshots, there is no reason they can't do that. The foundation of the product was built around open source APIs, and most vendors are moving in that direction. This is written with a RESTful API, and my guess is they will extend into OpenStack Swift at some point."

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