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Dell World 2015: Dell AppAssure gets a new name

Dell upgrades and rebrands Dell AppAssure as Rapid Recovery and adds Endpoint Recovery. Where will they fit after EMC acquisition?

AUSTIN, Texas – Fresh off last week's $67 billion attempt to acquire EMC, Dell today introduced a new branding initiative for its backup and recovery products that will change the name of its upgraded Dell AppAssure software to Dell Data Protection/Rapid Recovery.

The company also marked the opening of Dell World by launching a new Dell Data Protection/Endpoint Recovery software product for continuous backup and recovery of the data stored in devices such as tablets, laptops and desktops.

"We're trying to get really clean and descriptive on our naming and tie it back to even other parts of our Dell portfolio," said Brett Roscoe, general manager of data protection for Dell Software.

Roscoe said Rapid Recovery represents the culmination of development efforts to more tightly couple different pieces of the company's backup portfolio and provide "next-generation disaster recovery" for customers in the mid-market space.

At the heart of Rapid Recovery is the Dell AppAssure technology, which the company acquired from AppAssure Software in 2012. The AppAssure product focused on snapshot, replication-based backup and recovery, and built in data deduplication and compression technology. Within Rapid Recovery, a part of the AppAssure capabilities is now known as Rapid Snap for Applications.

Rapid Recovery also builds in capabilities from Dell's agentless vRanger software for backup and recovery of VMware, Microsoft's Hyper-V and physical Windows Server environments. When combined with Rapid Recovery, vRanger helps to facilitate a new "Rapid Snap for Virtual" capability that can protect VMware environments without agents and automatically detect and back up virtual machines (VMs) provisioned on a VMware ESXi host. Hyper-V support is due to become available in the next release of Rapid Recovery, according to a Dell spokesman.

At the heart of Rapid Recovery is the Dell AppAssure technology, which the company acquired from AppAssure Software in 2012.

Dell also added a new backend repository, known as Rapid Recovery Repository (R3), which comes from Dell's DR Series Disk Backup and Deduplication Appliances. Roscoe said Dell wanted to provide common compression and deduplication technology and common repository architecture for the portfolio, as well as future compatibility with the DR Series.

"It makes sense for them to finally centralize on the same deduplication engine" that is used across some of Dell's other products, said Henry Baltazar, a storage research director at 451 Research. "The main benefit is the simplification aspect. Instead of having a repository that only talks to one app, now you could essentially have other applications that can leverage these repositories. From a functionality basis, that could be a pretty powerful feature, especially if they extend it to archiving or other use cases."

Roscoe said in the past with Dell AppAssure, the data path ran through the media server to back-end storage. Now users will be able to scale the media servers separately from the storage.

"Initially with Rapid Recovery, out of the gate, we'll have direct-to-target [backups]. So, now the repository doesn't have to sit behind the Rapid Recovery or the AppAssure core server. It can be sitting in a separate server, so you can have multiple data streams. We're basically separating the control plane and the data path," said Roscoe. "In the future, you'll even be able to use DR as a target device for the Rapid Recovery product."

Rapid Recovery is due to become available in the fourth quarter starting at $1,199. The product will be sold as software only or as an integrated software/hardware appliance. Endpoint Recovery will cost $34 per endpoint.

Dell AppAssure license holders will be entitled to a free upgrade to Rapid Recovery. Dell plans to continue to sell vRanger, unlike AppAssure, as a standalone product starting at $699, which includes 24/7 support.  

Roscoe said Dell's DL4300 appliance will be introduced soon, and a DL1000 model will be available for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) or other customers who want to store most of their data in the cloud.

Roscoe said the new Endpoint Recovery software represents a grounds-up effort over the last 18 months to provide a client Windows backup and recovery product. He said the initial product focuses on the needs of SMBs, but Endpoint Recovery is architected to add capabilities, such as centralized management and private/public cloud support, to extend the appeal to larger enterprises. The second version of Endpoint Recovery is expected by June 2016, according to Roscoe.

As with all Dell storage products, it's unclear how Rapid Recovery and Endpoint Recovery will fit into Dell's overall data protection strategy after the EMC acquisition. EMC sells several data protection products, including Avamar, Data Domain and NetWorker, which can create overlap with Dell's products.

"Dell is still more focused on mid-range businesses and smaller, and EMC is more focused on the higher end," Baltazar said. "If you take an analogous platform like Avamar, Avamar is going to be at a different price point than where [Dell wants] to go with Rapid Recovery."

Baltazar said it will be interesting to see how the backup and recovery products fit in with VMware, of which Dell would gain primary ownership if the acquisition closes. VMware has its own data protection application, vSphere Data Protection (VDP) and VDP Advanced, which are OEM versions of Avamar.

"All areas have overlap, but I think the data protection products are probably [harder] to sort through than the storage products," said George Crump, founder and president of analyst firm Storage Switzerland. "Data protection is kind of a religious thing, and there are a lot of people [who] really like NetWorker, [Dell's] NetVault, vRanger and the formerly named AppAssure. That's just going to be a harder puzzle to solve."

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