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Compute-heavy Unitrends appliances allow on-the-box recovery

Unitrends offers up extra compute and memory in low-capacity backup appliances as an alternative to using the public cloud for small companies and remote offices.

Unitrends has a new series of backup appliances with a greater emphasis on compute power and memory than storage capacity.

The Unitrends Recovery Series MAX launched today include Intel Xeon D-1541 processors, dual 1 Gb and 10 Gb Ethernet ports, 32 GB or 64 GB of memory, 128 GB solid-state storage cards, and 2 TB, 4 TB or 8 TB of usable disk capacity.

The extra compute and memory allow the three new Unitrends appliances to serve as backup targets for failover applications and data requiring rapid recovery.

The Unitrends appliances target customers who don't have dedicated on-premises backup infrastructure. Joe Noonan, vice president of product management and marketing at Unitrends, said most of these organizations would use the cloud for backup.

"A lot of folks in that smaller capacity range don't have the recovery infrastructure there. They don't have a place to actually recover locally," Noonan said. "So they're now forced to look at the cloud as a disaster recovery site, and that's a much more complex recovery."

Unitrends claims its juiced up appliances enable organizations to run sandbox testing environments, while simultaneously running backup, deduplication, encryption and ransomware detection processes.

The Unitrends flagship backup target family, Recovery Series Gen 8, launched in July 2018 with 15 models ranging from 2 TB to 120 TB of usable capacity. Noonan said the three MAX editions do not replace their 2 TB, 4 TB and 8 TB counterparts in the Recovery Series, but provide alternative versions of Unitrends appliances that can do more than just backup and replication. He said the MAX appliances cost around 25% more than the Gen 8 targets with the same amount of capacity. According to Unitrends' website, a Gen 8 appliance with 8 TB of capacity has an Enterprise license price of $10,999.

The MAX series appliances include considerably more memory and bandwidth than their Gen 8 counterparts. For instance, 2 TB and 4 TB Gen 8 models include 8 GB of memory compared to 32 GB for MAX appliances. A MAX appliance is available with 64 GB of memory for 8 TB of capacity, while Gen 8 models are not available with 64 GB of memory for less than 24 TB of capacity. Gen 8 10 Gb Ethernet connectivity is available only with appliances with 16 TB of capacity and higher.

Render of Unitrends Recovery Series MAX appliance
Unitrends MAX appliances come in 2, 4 and 8 TB models.

MSPs like local failover in Unitrends appliances

Noonan said the MAX appliances have uses for enterprises with remote offices, but the main driver for their development was demand from Unitrends' MSP partners. These MSPs have a lot of small customers with no local recovery infrastructure, and the MAX series allows them to do local failover without involving the cloud.

PCA Technology Solutions CEO and President Ted Clouser said his MSP switched from Arcserve tape backup to Unitrends in early 2016. He said the MAX appliances can help small companies that don't want to make a big initial investment in data protection hardware.

"When you look at small businesses, like a local nonprofit or a small construction company with 15 users, they don't want to invest in redundant hardware or physical backup equipment to be able to put themselves back in business in a critical situation," Clouser said. "Until that critical situation happens, then they're willing to spend whatever."

Ransomware and public breaches have helped people recognize the importance of being able to recover their data.
Ted ClouserPresident and CEO, PCA Technology Solutions

Clouser found some customers don't even want to think about what downtime costs them. Most of them don't realize that the downtime likely costs more than the price tag of a backup appliance.

However, Clouser said the attitude is shifting. More of his customers are becoming educated, thanks to high-profile news stories of ransomware attacks and data breaches. They're starting to do the math and figure out if their businesses can stand being down for 24 hours.

"Ransomware and public breaches have helped people recognize the importance of being able to recover their data," Clouser said. "As much as I hate to say it, all the bad things that hit the news helped raise awareness."

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