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ExaGrid deduplication boxes get bigger, faster

ExaGrid deduplication appliances inch toward the enterprise with the EX21000E, a system that can scale to 210 TB in a 10-unit grid.

Disk backup and deduplication specialist ExaGrid brought out its biggest and fastest system this week, an appliance that holds 21 TB of raw data and can scale to 210 TB by clustering 10 boxes.

The EX21000E also has a 12% faster ingest rate than smaller ExaGrid appliances. The ingest rate for the EX21000E is 4.32 TB per hour, and a 10-system grid can ingest at more than 43 TB per hour, according to ExaGrid CEO Bill Andrews.

The new system can work in a grid with ExaGrid's other models: the EX1000, EX2000, EX3000, EX4000, EX5000, EX7000, EX10000E and EX13000E. The model number refers to the raw capacity on a box. The models with "E" on the end are designated as "enterprise" systems, although Andrews admits even the largest appliances barely scratch the surface for small enterprises.

"I still wouldn't call us enterprise at this level," he said. "This makes us more competitive in the midmarket."

Andrews said future ExaGrid products will jump at least 50% in capacity from the proceeding one. And while he wouldn't commit to larger clusters, he said, "there's no reason why we can't go beyond 10 in a grid."

Andrews said ExaGrid will keep the smaller appliances on the market. Customers can add any of the boxes to the grid.

"All of our appliances work together, old and new, big and small," he said. "If we refresh a model to add more processor memory to make it faster, your old appliance can work in the same grid."

List price for the EX21000E is $59,999.

Andrews said EMC Data Domain is the main competitor, but ExaGrid also competes with Quantum, Dell Dimension 4100, Hewlett-Packard and Symantec backup systems.

Sarah Lawrence College benefits from ExaGrid deduplication

Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., has nine ExaGrid boxes to deal with backup data that has grown from 2 TB in 2008 to 200 TB today.

Sarah Lawrence Chief Technology Officer Sean Jameson said the school already had systems ranging from an EX1000 to the EX13000E and recently acquired two EX21000E units. One will go at an off-site location about 60 miles away in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., for disaster recovery.

Jameson said the larger boxes replaced one of the EX1000 units. "The 2100 gives us so much bang for the buck," he said. "If we needed to buy two 13000s in a year, we have to take time to get them up and running. If we can buy a larger box and future-proof it so we're not buying as quickly, that's an advantage of the bigger box."

Sarah Lawrence first installed ExaGrid with its CA ARCserve backup software in 2008 to take backups of mission-critical systems, databases and file servers off tape. Now the college is tape-free. The backup window has shrunk to about 12 hours for 200 TB from 36 hours with 2 TB of data, Jameson said.

"Once we went from tape to disk, we started looking at what else we could throw onto that," Jameson said.

He said one reason data has grown so fast is because he uses VMware and ARCserve to expand the school's use of snapshots. "We take snapshots of massive transactional systems. We went from only taking emergency disaster recovery backups to taking snaps of virtual images every half hour."

Jameson said ExaGrid provides about a 9-to-1 deduplication ratio, which keeps the growth of backup data down but does not stop it.

"We haven't even scratched the surface of systems we'd like to get on the box, like archival storage," he said. "We have a team on campus doing a massive digitization project now. We've grown our backup data 9,000% in five years. I don't know if we'll keep up that rate, but we're definitely still increasing."

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