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Cohesity gets physical with converged data protection

The latest version of Cohesity's data protection software adds physical machine support. Can the startup broaden its use cases beyond backup?

Cohesity Inc. is taking another step to broaden its converged data protection platform by adding support for physical servers and application-consistent backup for Microsoft applications.

Version 3 of Cohesity's Data Platform and Data Protection software will back up physical Windows and Linux servers. It will also ensure up-to-date recovery of Microsoft SQL, SharePoint and Exchange applications, and improve performance by ingesting data in parallel. Cohesity previously only protected virtual machines (VMs) since launching in late 2015.

Cohesity calls its platform hyper-convergence for secondary storage. The Cohesity CS2000 works as an integrated appliance, removing the need for separate backup software and media servers. The converged data protection appliance ships with Data Platform and Data Protect software. Data Platform is a distributed file system that handles storage features such as data deduplication, snapshots and encryption. Data Protect is Cohesity's backup software. (Customers don't need Data Protect if they want to run a separate backup software application.)

The appliance consists of hard disk drives (12 TB per node in the C2300 and 24 TB per node in the C2500) and solid-state drives (800 GB in the C2300 and 1.6 TB in the C2500) along with 10-Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The appliances are sold in blocks consisting of four nodes.

Data Platform 3.0 and Data Protect 3.0 are expected to ship by the end of September.

This is the second major upgrade for Cohesity since it came out of stealth last October with its converged data protection product. The startup added the ability to move data to public clouds in version 2.0 in April.

Cohesity Vice President of Marketing Patrick Rogers said customers asked for physical server support.

"We initially targeted virtual environments, but our customers said, 'We want you to start supporting physical workloads because we have important databases on Windows and Linux servers,'" Rogers said. "So, we're extending support for physical servers and application-consistent backups running on those physical servers."

I see them going after test/dev, active workloads and big data. Cohesity positions itself as a secondary storage version of Nutanix.
Henry Baltazarstorage research director, 451 Research

The application-consistent backup capability means Cohesity will quiesce the application to make sure it is in a consistent state and guarantee 100% consistent point-in-time restores of the latest version. Cohesity also added parallel ingest of VMs across nodes and clusters for faster performance, and proactive monitoring to analyze and recommend preventative maintenance for the appliances.

Rogers said Cohesity has 60 live customer installations, mostly companies with more than $1 billion in revenue.

Henry Baltazar, storage research director of 451 Research, said Cohesity has concentrated on replacing disk backup appliances such as EMC's Data Domain so far, but he expects the vendor to broaden its use cases.

"I think their aspirations are a lot higher than just backup," he said. "Their long-term strategy is a lot more aggressive. I see them going after test/dev, active workloads and big data. Cohesity positions itself as a secondary storage version of Nutanix. They're adding the ability to back up more workloads [in version 3.0]."

Cohesity founder and CEO Mohit Aron was a founder of hyper-converged pioneer Nutanix. His goal is to converge data protection in a similar manner to the way Nutanix converges primary data.

One early Cohesity customer, Toronto-based barcodes standard company GS1, started with protecting test/dev data. GS1 Senior Vice President of Technology Sase Janki said he brought a Cohesity converged data protection appliance in for testing last December. He said he was satisfied with the results and intends to move his production data to Cohesity.

"The idea of hyper-convergence of everything in a box was appealing to me," Janki said. "Traditional backup had so many points of failure. We also saw a three-times to four-times speed improvement in our test/dev environment. I'm looking forward to putting production VMs on it."

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