Integrated purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs) add business value

Purpose-built backup appliances are gaining popularity as the persistent growth of data continues to put pressure on protection and recovery processes.

July 17, 2013

By Fred Mitchell, Symantec Business Unit Manager at DCC

Purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs) — highly tuned, turnkey backup solutions that have preconfigured hardware, interconnects, interfaces, and software — are gaining popularity as the persistent growth of data continues to put pressure on protection and recovery processes. PBBAs, and especially integrated PBBAs, offer storage administrators some respite, with data deduplication capabilities to optimise capacity, the software to manage and move the data, and ease of configuration and use. The CapEx and OpEx savings, compared to using build-your-own or point solutions, are significant.

Global market forecasts seem to agree. According to IDC, the worldwide PBBA market is set to grow from revenues of $2.4 billion in 2011 to almost $6 billion in 2016, with “target” or open system PBBAs that offer deduplication but use third-party software for backup data management and software, being fast overtaken by sales of “integrated” PBBAs.

Data growth is being fuelled by use of new applications, the creation of electronic document stores, document sharing and regulation-driven preservation of digital records. In addition, the proliferation of virtualisation is impacting network resources for backup and adding to backup management complexity. This has seen the evolution of backup processes from tape to Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) and now PBBA systems.

The big drivers for businesses in terms of adoption of PBBAs are the same as they were for uptake of previous iterations of storage technology and process advances, namely the need to improve backup window time, provide faster restore and recovery, and enable seamless integration with existing backup applications.

Data deduplication provides some answers, minimising the volume of storage required by analysing data and only storing one instance of repetitive data. This has served increase storage efficiency and lower capital costs, shrink the backup window and speed recovery of data. But other challenges have arisen. Organisations are struggling to manage the multitude of different types of backup and disaster recovery solutions they are using for remote or branch offices, for point protection, for virtual machine-level recovery, for snapshot recovery, and more.

PBBAs can support multiple interfaces, including network attached storage (NAS), virtual tape library (VTL), open system and vendor specific interfaces. But there are choices to be made that directly impact CapEx and OpEx.

Target PBBAs can be used in heterogeneous environments but do not include backup software for data movement, scheduling, and/or media management. A typical backup solution would be built from component parts and would include a server, Operating System (OS), backup software and storage. This could involve the integration of four or more different vendor or OEM solutions. OpEx considerations would include time to design, install, integrate and test the solution; administration of the solution; hard and software upgrades for the solution; and ongoing support of the solution. While a target or open system may make sense to extend existing investments in storage hard and software, integrated PBBAs are leading the way forward in the evolution of storage solutions.

Integrated systems, which seamlessly incorporate the server, storage, OS and backup software in a single appliance, are changing the game. They offer greater integration with the client environment, improved capability and automation, and more simplicity. They are designed for ease of use and fast deployment, have the ability to scale easily by adding more media servers, include licensing, and add reliability and peace of mind that cobbled together systems cannot.

IDC expect the overall PBBA market to grow five times faster than the external disk market and four times faster than the total general-purpose disk and software markets used for data protection and recovery. PBBA solutions are proven, with many vendors into their second and third generation of PBBA offerings. For many organisations, and especially mid to large sized businesses, it may be time to investigate options – there is certainly business value to be had.