Hey Backup Vendors! I'm never happy!

Some of the vendors I’m dealing with in the blogosphere are having a difficult time with my frankness.  They think I’m picking on them. I’ve got news for them: it’s not just you.  Click Read More to see what I’m talking about.

As I was commenting on SEPATON’s blog tonight, I thought about how what I do a lot is tell vendors what I don’t like about their products, and I’m now doing this online. I tell vendors how they can make their product better because I consider myself an advocate for the end user, and I try to speak for them.

Some vendors see a benefit in what I do.  They know they always need to make their product better, and having someone telling them how they need to do it helps that along.  One vendor yesterday referred to their “make Curtis happy department.”  I know she was joking, but it was a nice sentiment none the less.

Other vendors see me as a giant pain and often think I’m picking just on them.  And that is just not the case.  To prove my point, I thought I’d summarize what I like and don’t like about a lot of major vendors and products.

Backup Software

  • EMC/NW
    • NW’s been around a long time and is pretty simple to use — until you need to automate the copying of tapes in a large environment.  Hope you’re good at scripting.
  • EMC/Avamar
    • Great for remote offices and relatively small datacenters.  I don’t like that it requires a separate infrastructure from NW.
  • Symantec/NBU
    • Lot of features and a strong command-line interface. Good luck making sense of all that.  There are literally thousands of pages of manuals to sort through.
  • Symantec/PureDisk
    • Also great for remote offices and relatively small datacenters.  I don’t like that it requires a separate infrastructure from NBU.
    • Love the concepts of how storage pools are handled and how data is automatically cycled through them.  But from a complexity standpoint it makes NBU look easy.
  • CommVault/Simpana
    • Lots of focus on feature areas where the above three really stink.  Not enough focus on manageability features for larger environments.  (Way too much pointing and clicking to get things done.)

Target Dedupe

    • Based on their MAID platform and FalconStor’s dedupe.  They have had limited customer penetration.  See comments on FalconStor.
  • Data Domain
    • First mover and market leader.  Strong product and you and they know what it does.  They support OST.  They are missing global (multi-node) dedupe and sometimes their literatures suggests otherwise.
  • EMC 1500/3000
    • Quantum DXi on Clarion disk.  They support OST and Direct-to-tape features.  See comments on Quantum.
  • EMC 3D 4000
    • It’s a 3D 3000 plugged into the back of an EDL 4000.  Doesn’t support OST Or Direct-to-tape.  Nice way to add dedupe to an existing EDL, but I don’t see why anyone would buy this as a new system.
  • Exagrid
    • Strong dedupe vendor for the SMB with global dedupe (5 nodes) and replication.  They don’t scale as large as their competitors, but they’re aiming for a different market.
  • FalconStor
    • They advertise good numbers and global dedupe, but many of their VTL partners went elsewhere for dedupe. One of the reasons for this is that early versions were buggy. They are the only vendor to support OST with a Fibre Channel interface (others use IP).  They have invited me to visit to increase my confidence in the product, and I haven’t been able to do so yet.
  • IBM/Diligent
    • They’re fast and they’ve got global dedupe for two nodes.  I’m not sure how soon two-node dedupe will go to three or four nodes.  They’re missing integrated replication and OST.
  • NEC
    • Very interesting architecture.  They’ve had limited customer penetration.
  • NetApp NearStore NAS
    • NetApp’s ASIS is free with your ONTAP license, so that’s nice.  They’re not going to win any dedupe ratio awards with it, but it’s the ONLY product to be deduping all active, primary storage data.  They can dedupe VMWare vmdk files!  Not global, local to flex-vols only.  Bummer.
  • NetApp NearStore VTL
    • Their dedupe VTL finally has dedupe.  Its dedupe is delta differential based but does not yet have OST, RAID 6 or replication.
  • Overland REO
    • Smaller version of the Diligent product that is a lot more expensive than what they usually sell.
  • Quantum
    • Strong offering and they support OST and Direct-to-tape.  They have one major flaw: restores from the block pool are very slow.  My opinion: until this is resolved you need a week of cache and weekly full backups so you don’t get bit by it.
    • They’re fast and they have global dedupe up to five nodes.  They don’t have deduped replication & OST.  They’re content aware, which means they need to understand your backup format to support it.  If they support your backup product (NBU, TSM, & DP), then you’re set.  If they don’t, no dedupe for you.

Some of these vendors will again be upset for me bringing some of these things up, but I’m trying to make a point.  I’m not picking on anyone, and certainly not on EMC (as some have suggested from some of my recent posts).  I’m just doing my job of bringing truth to light.

----- Signature and Disclaimer -----

Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.

8 thoughts on “Hey Backup Vendors! I'm never happy!

  1. romeotheriault says:

    In the EMC 1500/3000 product you say “See comments on Clarion.”. Did you possibly mean, see comments on Quantum?

    I also notice that you now say that Exagrid has global dedupe, whereas in one of your previous articles (link below) written on March 13, 09 you stay that Exagrid is not one of the vendors with global dedupe.


    What has changed? Does Exagrid have or not have global dedupe? Thanks for any clarification.

  2. cpjlboss says:

    I fixed that Clarion/Quantum goof. Thanks for that.

    As to ExaGrid, they and I had a lot of chats over the last month. It turns out that what they THOUGHT I was talking about with global dedupe was comparing everything to everything, the way hash-based products do. Once they understood that I’m just talking about always having like backups compared to each other regardless of which node they went to, they told me they’ve always done that. I plan on updating that story and another blog entry after I visit them.

  3. ran marsh says:

    Thoughts on EMC’s Quantum/FalconStor/Avamar mix; isn’t it a bit on the klugy side with all those piece parts? What are end users strategy with such an offering?

    What might Oracle do in this market after their SUN purchase?

    And Sepaton; seems to have speed, but not much else besides talk. Slow sales; is their VP THAT inept??

  4. cpjlboss says:

    I have separate posts on my thoughts on the 3D4000:

    I can’t predict what Sun’s going to do with anything, let alone the dedupe space. Given that they didn’t even want the hardware biz until they had to take it, I wouldn’t bet on them doing anything.

    As to SEPATON, how do you know what their sales are? And to whom are you comparing them, Data Domain? Anybody’s sales (save EMC’s) pale in comparison to their sales for a number of reasons. They’ve been out their longer than anyone else, and they have a huge direct sales engine.

  5. ran marsh says:

    Sepaton sales – ~$24M; I don’t believe I mentioned comparing their sales to any other vendor, as that would be a rather shallow analysis.

    Sales are compared yr over yr to a company’s own previous results. You might compare their sales growth vs the growth of the market itself, which, still pale in such a fast growing technology as dedupe.

  6. cpjlboss says:

    Their dedupe, while top notch was behind everyone else’s. They also promised way too many features before they were ready. I believe this was due to a previous regime in engineering that has since been replaced. Now they’ve got top-notch , global dedupe and replication (as of this week). Let’s see what they do now.

    I can neither confirm nor deny your $24M number as they are a private company.

  7. ran marsh says:

    What they’ll do now is probably what they’ve done before…market it as poorly as they’ve always done, on par with a high school class project; just seems to be lacking in marketing leadership inside there. Sepa-WHO? is their nickname in the industry.

  8. cpjlboss says:

    You don’t sound like a disgruntled former employee at all.

    I wouldn’t wish anyone the joy of having to sell against the momentum that Data Domain grabbed by having a full functioning dedupe unit years before anyone else. From what I’ve seen, I’d say that Sepaton’s success has been as good as any of the DD competitors, if not better.

    I don’t know ANYONE who calls them "SEPA-Who?" I’d say that statement is true of just about everybody except Data Domain. Soon it will be Data Domain (NetApp) and EMC because they’re currently buying market share. But everyone else has a sliver of market share of the target dedupe space.

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