Monday, September 27, 2010

Dirty little secrets of VM backup and recovery

September 27, 2010 -- In addition to improving costs and efficiency, one of the reasons that IT organizations deploy virtualization is to improve data protection. However, according to a survey of 500 IT directors, conducted by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by Veeam Software, virtual servers do not seem to be improving data protection much.

The full results of the survey won't be available until next month, but I chatted with Doug Hazelman, Veeam's senior director of product strategy, about some of the preliminary results of the survey. Here are a few snippets:

Although a virtual machine (VM) can be built and deployed in minutes, performing a full recovery of a backed-up VM still takes nearly five hours on average. That compares to an average of six hours required to recover a physical server -- not much of an improvement.

Based on the survey results, 47% of full server recoveries are being performed merely to recovery a single file or application item (as opposed to recovering just the file or application item).

Also according to the survey, 63% of IT organizations experience problems (e.g., failed media, inability to start VMs after recovery, etc.) every month when attempting to recover a server. And failed recoveries cost enterprises more than $400,000 per year on average. However -- and here's the kicker -- only 2% of all server and VM backups are tested for recoverability each year, and on average these tests are performed once every two months (which translates into as many as 60 days of bad backups).

And in a related finding, the survey respondents report that testing the recoverability of a single backup takes IT teams approximately 13 hours. Not surprisingly, IT managers report that lack of human resources is the #1 reason why they don't test the recoverability of backups more often.

One more tidbit: hardware failure is the most common reason (cited by 68% of the survey respondents) why IT organizations need to recover servers and data, followed by general IT problems such as misconfiguration (63%) and user error (56%).

You can register on the Veeam site to receive a full copy of the VMware Data Protection report when it becomes available next month.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another backup vendor you may not have heard of

September 23, 2010 -- A few weeks ago I blogged about a backup software vendor that I had never heard of, despite the fact that they've been shipping product for more than four years. That was Cofio Software (see "A backup vendor you haven't heard of").

Afterwards I heard from a lot of data protection vendors wondering if I had ever heard of them (presumably because I hadn't written about them). I was aware of most of them, but one exception was AppAssure, which has been shipping its flagship Replay software suite since 2007.

If you're open to considering backup vendors outside of the Big Four (and given the relatively high readership of that Cofio post, many of you are), AppAssure is worth consideration.

Many of the company's executives hail from Symantec/Veritas (and AppAssure says that about 75% of its customers are former Backup Exec users) with some execs tracing their roots back to W Quinn Associates (which was acquired by Precise Software which was acquired by Veritas which was acquired by Symantec).

AppAssure claims 13 consecutive quarters of growth, and as of last month the company had exceeded its total 2009 revenues (which grew 268% over 2008 revenues), according to Steven Toole, AppAssure's chief marketing officer. The company also claims that Replay has accounted for more than 56 million backups on five petabytes+ of data.

The application-aware Replay4 software backs up the entire application stack, including app objects, files, operating systems and blocks with "near" continuous data protection (snapshots every 15 minutes).

The suite includes standard functionality such as backup and recovery, disaster recovery and cloud recovery, as well as all the specific features you might need in a data protection suite, including the elimination of backup windows, off-host processing, data deduplication and compression, VM failover, bare metal restore, corruption detection, virtualization, replication, fast backups (8GB/minute), etc.

And most of those features are bundled in what appears to be attractive pricing (exceptions include replication and virtualization, which are priced separately). For example, the base price is $899 per protected server, and that's for a perpetual (non-recurring) license. Specific pricing: $2,099 per VMware host with an unlimited number of guests, $1,499 for Hyper-V, $1,499 for SQL Server, and $2,099 for Exchange.

If that sounds intriguing, check out AppAssure's web site where you can get a free trial version of Replay.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Data deduplication: Permabit finds success with OEM model

September 20, 2010 -- Following the blockbuster acquisitions of Ocarina by Dell and Storwize by IBM (well, pre-HP/3PAR they were blockbusters), all eyes were re-focused on the data deduplication space (aka data, or capacity, or storage optimization).

Around the same time (early summer), Permabit introduced an OEM version of its data deduplication software, dubbed Albierio, that storage hardware and software vendors can integrate into their products.

Permabit is among only a few "independent" deduplication vendors that are taking the OEM route rather than the acquisition route (although I still say the company is an attractive takeover candidate).

So far, Permabit's strategy seems to be paying off. The company has inked two OEM deals -- with BlueArc about a month ago and, today, Xiotech -- and I understand that Permabit has a few more OEM deals that will be announced over the next couple months.

Permabit claims zero performance degradation with its Albireo deduplication software, and both BlueArc and Xiotech officials cited Albireo's performance, as well as scalability and data "safety" (Albireo doesn't alter data) in announcing their OEM agreements. BlueArc and Xiotech are a good start for Permabit, although it's unclear how long it will take either vendor to integrate Albireo into their systems.

Both the BlueArc and Xiotech deals are focused on data deduplication for primary storage, as opposed to secondary or backup storage. That's where Permabit is currently focused, although Albireo software can be used across all storage tiers, and can be implemented with block, file or unified (block + file) storage.

I recently caught up with Tom Cook, Permabit's president and CEO, to talk about trends in the capacity optimization market.

I asked him about the fact that some of the large storage vendors seem to be embracing multiple capacity optimization techniques for different tiers of storage and, in some cases, carrying a mix of homegrown and OEM'd solutions for data deduplication and/or compression.

"We're still in the very early stages of data optimization, where you have single-function devices such as D2D and VTL appliances," says Cook. "But over time, the big players will try to get to a single data optimization solution that covers all storage tiers."

"Vendors will drive toward total efficiency, where's there's no re-hydration of data," says Cook. "And we believe that the best place to start is on primary storage. It's like New York: 'If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.'"

Related articles:
Dell to acquire Ocarina for data deduplication
IBM scoops up Storwize

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Top 6 storage software vendors

September 16, 2010 -- There hasn't been much change over the last year in terms of market shares for the Top 6 storage software vendors.

IDC recently released its quarterly report on the market, and EMC held on to its #1 ranking with a 24.4% market share on Q2 2010 revenue of $722 million, followed by Symantec at #2 (16.5% share, $488 in revenue), #3 IBM (13.9%, $410 million) and #4 NetApp (8.7%, $256 million).

Rounding out the Top 6 were CA and HP in a statistical tie. CA had a 3.6% market share on revenue of $108 million, and HP had a 3.3% share with revenue of $97 million. The only change in the lineup between Q2 2010 and Q2 2009 was a switch in positions between CA and HP.

In terms of revenue growth over the last 12 months, there were four gainers and two losers. Gainers included EMC (+13.3%), IBM (+10.6%), NetApp (+6%) and CA (+2%). Symantec (-6.9%) and HP (-10.3%) declined year-over-year.

Overall, the storage software market hit almost $3 billion in the second quarter, a 3.3% growth vs. the same period a year ago.

IDC segments the storage software market into eight product categories. Of those, the segments experiencing the most growth over the last year included storage infrastructure (+12.7%), archiving (+8.2%), storage management (+5.8%), and data protection and recovery (+4.9%).

For more details, see IDC's press release, "Storage Software Market Delivers Continued Growth in the Second Quarter."

Related blog post:
The Top 5 array vendors: HP #4, Dell #5

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Top 5 array vendors: HP #4, Dell #5

September 9, 2010 -- Against the backdrop of the HP-Dell-3PAR drama (which, in case you were in a coma, ended with HP victorious in its $2.4 billion buyout of 3PAR), IDC recently released its quarterly report on the disk systems market.

For the second quarter of this year, EMC retained its #1 ranking in the external disk systems space with almost twice the market share of #2 IBM. On Q2 revenue of almost $1.3 billion, EMC held a 25.7% market share compared to IBM's 13.6% slice on revenue of $680 million.

NetApp was #3 with an 11.4% share on revenue of $571 million, followed very closely by HP with an 11.3% share on revenue of $567 million (which is essentially a dead heat between the two vendors).

Rounding out the Top 5 was Dell, with a 9.4% share and revenue of $472 million.

Liz Conner, IDC's senior research analyst, storage systems, estimates 3PAR's share of the market at 0.58%.

Depending on how quickly HP can ramp the 3PAR revenue stream, it won't be long before HP is firmly in the #3 spot, followed by NetApp at #4.

Or maybe not. In terms of revenue growth in 2Q10 vs. 2Q09, NetApp was the big gainer, with an impressive 55.3% revenue growth rate, followed by EMC with a 40.6% growth rate. HP only had 20.9% growth year-over-year, and Dell posted a 17% increase. IBM was the laggard at 10.9%.

The "others" category in the external disk array market continues to decline. In 2Q09, "others" accounted for 33.5% of the market ($1.6 billion in revenue), but in 2Q10 that share slipped to 28.6% ($1.4 billion). So the "others" market share is approximately the same as EMC's share.

That stat will no doubt throw more fuel on the speculation fire regarding which disk array vendor(s) will be acquired next (e.g., Compellent, Isilon, Pillar, Xiotech, etc.).

If you add up all (external + internal) storage systems revenue, the market share rankings shift: HP (19.3%), EMC (19%), IBM (15.8%), Dell (12.3%), NetApp (8.4%).

The NAS and iSCSI SAN sectors continue to rack up impressive growth figures. The combined NAS+iSCSI market grew 29.2% year-over-year in the second quarter, to $4.2 billion. EMC had a 28.9% share, followed by NetApp at 13.6%.

The NAS market posted 51.1% growth year-over-year, with EMC taking a 45.6% share followed by NetApp with 25.2%.

And the iSCSI SAN market grew 49%, with Dell in the lead with a 32.9% slice, followed by HP, NetApp and EMC in a statistical tie for second place.

Overall, the external disk storage market grew 20.4%, topping $5 billion in the second quarter.

For more details, see IDC's press release: "Disk Storage Systems Market Sustains Strong Double-Digit Growth Across All Sectors in Second Quarter."