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Riverbed has quadrupled the amount of data its Whitewater appliance can store in the cloud, and is gulping it in faster.

Whitewater is a cloud storage gateway, a box that sits at the logical edge of a data centre and sends data to either private or public storage clouds.

Supported private clouds use EMC Atmos or OpenStack components. The public ones include Amazon, AT&T, HP, Nirvanix, Rackspace and Microsoft's Azure. Whitewater can send any data to the cloud – backup files, archival data and database records – with the cloud acting as a consolidated data protection resource for distributed enterprises.

IDC reckons public cloud storage has a 33.6 per cent compound annual growth rate. A gateway acts as a cloud storage on-ramp, deduplicating and sending data efficiently to the cloud as well as acting as a local cache. As cloud storage becomes more popular, the on-ramp needs to become faster, its management easier, and its max capacity increased. So Riverbed has brought out a new high-end appliance, the 3010, and a version 2 of its Whitewater OS in response.

Whitewater product table

The table above shows the Whitewater product range and its main features. Compared to the prior top-end 2010, the 3010 has four times more local disk capacity at 32TB, provides up to 160TB of deduplicated cloud storage, has twice the main memory at 64GB, and ingests data 50 per cent faster, at 1.5TB/hour compared to the 2010's 1TB/hour. It's far easier to increase storage capacity than ingest rates. Riverbed claims the capacity increases represent total source data of 1.6 PB to 4.8 PB.

But Whitewater is no ingest speed king. Even a year ago, Quantum DXi6700s were ingesting at up to 5TB/hour. Data Domain's 670 is up to 5.4TB/hour. Whitewater's 3010 can only be reasonably be compared to entry-level Data Domain and Quantum deduplicating backup arrays. The Q-Cloud from Quantum couples its deduping DXi boxes with cloud storage so that will have Whitewater-beating ingest performance.

The second major release of the Whitewater operating system has a new dashboard summarising the main cloud gateway operating attributes. It also provides remote management of Whitewater appliances, including shut-down and re-boot, and has Active Directory integration.

Over time we would expect the main storage array and converged server+storage system vendors to extend their own cloud access product functionalities, giving Riverbed stronger competition. Dell, for example, has its own deal with Nirvanix. Part of the impetus here is to preserve storage array sales by having them, or an appliance, suck out cold data from their banks of disks and pump it up to cloud storage vaults. Bundling cloud storage gateway appliance functionality into an array would have a certain appeal: one box to manage; a co-ordinated 3-tier data storage strategy; server area flash for hot data, disk array for cool data; and cloud for the backup and cold data.

Riverbed is focusing on data protection, so it's advising that customers stop using tape and stop bothering with their own disk-to-disk and virtual tape library backup stores. It says that the easy wins of deduplicated disk backup have been made and the relentless rise of backup data volumes is making it cost-prohibitive – whereas cloud storage is getting cheaper. There is the problem of fast restores from the cloud – ie: they don't exist – but a local appliance cache for the newest data can help ameliorate that.

The key message is cost: "Whitewater appliances eliminate tape, improve disaster recovery (DR) readiness, and seamlessly integrate with existing data protection software applications to reduce costs 30 to 50 per cent over tape and replicated disk solutions."

That's Riverbed's Whitewater raison d'être, being the best value, best connected and best of breed cloud storage gateway appliance. Will that beat the converged and integrated system messages coming from the storage and server system vendors? We'll see. ®

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