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ExaGrid Systems upgrades include global dedupe, Oracle RMAN

ExaGrid Systems adds global deduplication and better Oracle RMAN support for its disk-based backup hardware as it looks to become an enterprise player.

Backup appliance vendor ExaGrid Systems today announced it has upgraded its data deduplication software and increased its support of Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) in an attempt to move into the enterprise. ExaGrid's deduplication advances give customers the ability to direct backup jobs across multiple NAS shares in the vendor's grid-based storage architecture.

Version 4.9 of the dedupe software, which is scheduled to be generally available Aug. 31, adds global deduplication across all machines in a single 25-appliance scale-out grid. The latest release also supports full backup and failover of Oracle databases up to 800 TB using RMAN channels to spread backup data on NAS shares across appliances.

ExaGrid Systems, based in Westborough, Mass., sells 10 disk backup appliance models ranging from 10 TB to 500 TB of capacity. ExaGrid node capacity ranges from 1 TB to 32 TB of full backup capacity per appliance, depending on the model. The vendor started selling to small and medium-sized businesses, but has steadily increased capacity and features to try to attract larger customers.

The ExaGrid backup system mostly competes with EMC Data Domain, Dell DR Series, HP StoreOnce and Quantum DXi backup and deduplication appliances, as well as Symantec NetBackup and CommVault Simpana integrated appliances that include backup software.

Post-process dedupe to landing zone enables streaming across grid

ExaGrid uses a landing zone architecture that backs up data directly to disk and applies post-processing data deduplication to shorten backup windows. The global deduplication augments the vendor's adaptive deduplication technique rolled out in 2014, which deduplicates and replicates data in parallel as it hits disk and keeps the most recent version in disk for disaster recovery.

We have never before deduplicated (data) across NAS shares and across appliances globally, so version 4.9 gives us concurrency.
Bill AndrewsCEO, ExaGrid Systems

ExaGrid Systems CEO Bill Andrews said global dedupe enables concurrent streams of backup data to be directed across the grid, leading to a boost in deduplication rates. Customers can point or redirect backup jobs to any and all nodes across the grid. ExaGrid automates load balancing of available capacity to maintain a virtual pool of shared storage.

"We have never before deduplicated (data) across NAS shares and across appliances globally, so version 4.9 gives us concurrency," Andrews said. "Before, if you re-pointed a backup job (on one appliance) at a share on a different appliance, we had to restart the deduplication. As customers start moving jobs around more, our deduplication wasn't efficient enough for them to do that. Now, we can take any backup job and point it to any NAS share on any ExaGrid appliance, and we keep the deduplication fully intact."

ExaGrid customer U.S. Legal Support Inc. in Houston, Texas, swapped out Synology NAS appliances for ExaGrid to back up 75 TB of primary storage in its main data center. Ryan McClain, the legal services firm's systems architect, said he expects to integrate the ExaGrid Systems software update soon after its release.

McClain uses Veeam backup software, taking advantage of its Data Mover service to run on ExaGrid hardware and speed backup of his virtual machines running on Nimble Storage arrays.

"We've been able to complete backups much faster with ExaGrid," he said. "We get new [full backups] in a week. We had been spilling out into the week where we had to split the jobs up, because our backups are so large. The Synology just couldn't keep up."

ExaGrid Systems channels Oracle RMAN

Andrews called enhanced integration with Oracle RMAN Channels the "crème de la crème" feature of version 4.9. Oracle users can set up RMAN Channels to write sections to ExaGrid NAS shares in parallel. The update supports full Oracle backups to 800 TB, based on a 25-node grid of 32 TB ExaGrid EX32000E appliances. ExaGrid's Oracle backup previously topped out at 32 TB.

"You can literally now take an Oracle database with hundreds of terabytes and have it all coming at the ExaGrid grid," Andrews said. "If a controller goes down, RMAN Channels will just move the section to another appliance on the grid, so backups aren't interrupted."

Will enterprise adoption lead to IPO?

The move into the enterprise is a key part of ExaGrid's plans to become a public company. Andrews said ExaGrid has posted a profit for six consecutive quarters and is eyeing possible public stock offering in 2018.  

"We're starting to smell million-dollar-type deals as we continue moving up market," Andrews said. "With a scale-out grid, we now have the compute to pull this off."

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