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EMC Avamar extends to NAS and virtual machines

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EMC Corporation has announced new data deduplication capabilities in EMC Avamar version 3.7, which now also supports VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) for the protection and reduction of backup times within and across virtual machines.

Avamar backup and recovery software features unique global data deduplication technology that eliminates the transmission of redundant backup data across the network that is saved on secondary storage. By deduplicating at the source organizations can dramatically shrink the amount of time required for backups, reduce network utilization, and ease the growth in demand for secondary storage.

With Avamar's new support of VCB, which simplifies data protection by offloading backup to a centralized server, VMware customers have an easy way of deduplicating backup data stored in virtual machines. This can reduce the amount of data backed up which in turn minimizes the impact on host servers as well as reducing backup windows and storage requirements. Customers can now leverage Avamar deduplication capabilities with Celerra NAS systems, through Network Data Management Protocol backups.

In addition, EMC Backup Advisor now supports Avamar in providing visibility to Avamar backup job completion, as well as diagnostics to analyze failed backup jobs. With this new release, Avamar now supports HP-UX and Mac OS operating systems in addition to existing support for Windows, Solaris, AIX, and Linux environments, as well as adding support for Oracle and IBM DB2 databases. EMC Avamar version 3.7 will be available in June 2007 from EMC and authorized resellers.

As demand for storage continues its unprecedented growth, IT personnel are under increasing pressure to deliver more storage capacity, but at the same time stay within often tight budgetary guidelines. Simply buying more capacity is not the most cost-effective approach to addressing storage needs; rather, maximizing the utilization and efficiency of the existing storage infrastructure is more often than not the sound approach. Judicious use of archiving and ILM can certainly help; however, one of the best ways to reduce secondary storage demand is to eliminate duplication of files resident on disks as well as eliminating duplicative backup traffic across the network. This is where we see EMC Avamar having a great deal of value to offer.

File systems are a wonderful hierarchical storage paradigm, but the many branches of the file tree can mask often significant duplication in storage. For example, a given file that was distributed to several users as an email attachment may be placed in several different directories on a central file store. Not only does this duplicate or waste storage capacity, but when backups are applied to the file store, the duplication is exacerbated as each duplicate copy of the identical file is backed up, sent across the network, and then stored independently on the backup volumes.

In virtualized server environments, the duplication can become even more extreme. Consider the system boot and configuration files for a virtual server: each virtual machine accesses the same set of files, yet operationally each acts as if it were its own physical server. Traditional backup schemes would make copies of each virtual server's environment, and send them off to the backup store. Hence, the greater the success in consolidating the servers the exact opposite takes place with respect to backing up said virtual machines.

Fortunately, Avamar's new support for VMware VCB addresses this irony. By eliminating duplication as an inherent part of the backup process, organizations should be able to significantly reduce the amount of storage needed for backups as well as reduce the overall impact on the network infrastructure in the delivery of backup data.

EMC stated that this solution can reduce virtual machines backup windows by up to 90 per cent, a substantial result. As the value proposition of virtualized server environments continues to be embraced by organizations of all sizes, ensuring that efficiency gains in servers are not offset by losses with respect to storage is a paramount concern for end users, the industry overall, and virtualization vendors in particular.

This announcement once again illustrates the thought leadership of EMC in its software acquisitions of the past several years, first with VMware, and more recently Avamar. While organizations could weave together the raw technologies needed to address some of their storage challenges, the integration hurdle often limits deployment and ultimately the value received by organizations for their storage investment.

The symbiotic relationship of VMware, Avamar, and other EMC software properties, when combined with EMC's hardware platforms, illustrate the holistic approach the company is taking with respect to storage solutions, a position that we see continuing to strengthen the company's products and marketplace performance, and most importantly, its customers' daily operations.

Copyright © 2007, The Sageza Group

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