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Unitrends injects flash into Recovery Series backup appliances

Unitrends isn't new to integrated backup appliances, but puts a new twist on their systems by adding up to 480 GB of flash to handle processing chores.

Unitrends has revamped its Recovery Series of integrated backup appliances with systems that include up to 486 GB of solid-state drives (SSDs) to accelerate performance.

The new Recovery Series appliances ship bundled with Unitrends software for virtual and physical backups. There are 11 models, which handle backups from 600 GB to 50 TB of data. The three smallest are desktop models, with the eight rackmount models using flash to handle performance-intensive functions.

The three 900 series models include 480 GB of flash and up to 97 TB of raw capacity, the 800 series have 256 GB of flash and 12 TB to 25 TB of raw storage, and two 700 series models include 128 GB of flash and 6TB or 8 TB of raw storage. The smaller systems are designed for SMBs, with the largest aimed at the mid-market.

The Recovery Series appliances also include from 8 GB to 256 GB of RAM, two to 16 CPU cores and Gigabit Ethernet ports.

"We've taken the first step towards a hyper-converged backup appliance," Unitrends CTO Mark Campbell said. "There are two directions you can go with a backup appliance. It can be either a dumb gateway to the cloud with little on-premise functionality, or you can integrate backup, archiving, instant recovery, high availability, deduplication, compression and encryption as we've done to handle the next generation of load."

Recovery Series continues Unitrends' long history of integrated appliances

Unitrends began selling integrated appliances in 2003, long before the notion became popular.

The appliances run Unitrends Enterprise Backup 8 software launched in November. The software protects VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines, and supports bare metal recovery and Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) backups for NAS. They also include Unitrends CloudHook software for archiving backup data to Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage and Rackspace Cloud Files public clouds.

But performance is the big difference in the new appliances, Campbell said. Unitrends promises significant improvements in backup processing time, recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives mainly because of the flash.

Unitrends isn't the first backup appliance vendor to use flash. StorServer appliances that run IBM TSM and CommVault Simpana backup software use SSDs to run internal databases. Unitrends goes beyond that to use flash for functions such as metadata processing and deduplication -- "all of the stuff that can keep your appliance from being able to scale higher," Campbell said.

The Unitrends appliances do not store backup customer data on SSDs.

Unitrends customers who need to scale higher cannot upgrade to a larger appliance. They must add a second box, Campbell said, but they can manage all their appliances from one console.

Unitrends switched CEOs this month, replacing Mike Coney with former McAfee president Kevin Weiss. The change follows a busy year in which Unitrends acquired virtual backup specialist PHD Virtual and cloud backup startup Yuruware and began integrating the new technology into its products. Weiss said he expects more acquisitions, adding that the new appliances should help solidify Unitrends' spot in the SMB and midmarket space. He said the vendor has about 13,000 customers.

Dave Simpson, senior storage analyst with 451 Research, said the CEO change should not be taken as a sign of trouble at Unitrends.

"All evidence that I have indicates that Unitrends is going very strong and, once they get their product lines integrated, (including the PHD software,) it will really help," he said.

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