New Cloud Backup Pricing Targets Recovery

Cloud backup pioneer Asigra announced a new pricing model based on data restoration. Meanwhile, EMC announced slew of updates to its enterprise backup portfolio.

Howard Marks

July 10, 2013

4 Min Read
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Today is a big day for news in the backup world. Cloud backup leader Asigra announced a revolutionary new pricing model that bases costs not only on the data that's backed up, but also on restores. Meanwhile, EMC announced enhancements to its backup portfolio, including a new set of midrange Data Domain appliances.

Unlike most of the Silicon Valley-based, venture-funded storage companies, Asigra is a family-owned Canadian company. It's been doing what we now call cloud backup for 25 years. In that time, the company has pioneered technologies such as source deduplication while quietly powering many of the best online backup providers in the business. Asigra sells mostly to solution providers, so it doesn't have the profile of EMC or Symantec, but its software sure gets the job done.

Asigra's biggest news, announced at its customer and partner conference, is a new pricing model. Instead of charging you based on the amount of data you store at the provider, or by the amount of storage you protect, the company will base part of the data protection cost on how much data you restore.

[Too many IT pros take risks with backups, particularly when it comes to restoration, according to an InformationWeek survey. Find out more in "IT Gambling With Backups."]

For example, rather than charging 40 cents to 75 cents per gigabyte per month to back up your data, the new model charges 16.6 cents for the backup, plus an additional 16.7 to 50 cents based on how much of your data you restore.

If you typically restore 25% or more of your protected storage each month, your total cost will be 67 cents per gigabyte per month (17 cents for the backup plus 50 cents for the restores). This means well-run IT shops that aren't constantly restoring crashed servers, and only restore 5% of their backed-up data, will pay just 34 cents per gigabyte per month.

Pricing is set annually based on your restore volume in the previous year, with new customers paying the maximum rate for six months and then having their rates set for the rest of the first year.

Recognizing that not all restores are created equal, Asigra charges just 7 cents per gigabyte for disaster recovery drills. You call your provider a month in advance and say, "Next Sunday we're running a drill," and that excludes your single biggest restore from your cost calculations.

Because the providers that run Asigra's software have bandwidth and system performance costs related to restore jobs, this new pricing model not only rewards users for limiting their need to restore by running a reliable infrastructure in the first place, but also brings the cost to users more in line with the cost to the provider.

Asigra also announced new features in Asigra Backup 12.2. They include element-level recovery from database backups of Exchange and SharePoint servers, enhanced virtual disaster recovery functionality to let users restore crashed servers to their providers' compute clouds, and cloud-to-cloud backup for Google Apps.

As I've written before, there's a big difference between the data protection that SaaS providers offer, which protects the data against failures and errors at the provider, and the backup corporate admins do, which protects the data against user error as well. Asigra's cloud-to-cloud backup lets you move to Google Apps and still restore the email the VP of HR deleted last week but really, really needs today.

Next page: EMC Rolls Out New Data Domain AppliancesAs if Asigra's news wasn't enough for the backup world, EMC conducted one of its over-the-top events in New York, announcing a new series of Data Domain appliances for the middle of the product line. The DD2500, DD4200, DD4500 and DD7200 range from about 60 Tbytes to 428 Tbytes of usable capacity. As usual, EMC is taking advantage of advances at the component level using newer Xeons and bigger disk drives.

I just wish EMC would adopt the model Quantum did a few years ago and reduce the number of models while broadening the capacity range each model supports. There are now seven Data Domain appliances; I, for the life of me, can't imagine why there need to be more than four or five.

In addition to the new Data Domain boxes, EMC has continued its integration of Avamar with both Data Domain and Networker. You can now back up directly from Avamar clients to Data Domains, eliminating the need for a separate Avamar data store.

Other enhancements from EMC include better deduplication from applications like Oracle RAC and direct backups from SAP HANA. The integration effort is going so well that the EMC execs say about half of their software sales are for the unified (OK, bundled) suite that includes Networker and Avamar.

The most significant of EMC's announcements is support for what it calls "Instant Access," which lets vSphere hosts directly access virtual machine images that were backed up to a Data Domain box via Avamar in under 2 minutes.

I believe this feature allowing virtual workloads to be recovered without waiting for the data to be restored from the backup repository, which first appeared as Veeam's vPower a couple of years ago, will soon become a standard feature in the backup market.

About the Author(s)

Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger

Howard Marks</strong>&nbsp;is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage systems, networks, management systems and Internet strategies at organizations including American Express, J.P. Morgan, Borden Foods, U.S. Tobacco, BBDO Worldwide, Foxwoods Resort Casino and the State University of New York at Purchase. The testing at DeepStorage Labs is informed by that real world experience.</p><p>He has been a frequent contributor to <em>Network Computing</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>InformationWeek</em>&nbsp;since 1999 and a speaker at industry conferences including Comnet, PC Expo, Interop and Microsoft's TechEd since 1990. He is the author of&nbsp;<em>Networking Windows</em>&nbsp;and co-author of&nbsp;<em>Windows NT Unleashed</em>&nbsp;(Sams).</p><p>He is co-host, with Ray Lucchesi of the monthly Greybeards on Storage podcast where the voices of experience discuss the latest issues in the storage world with industry leaders.&nbsp; You can find the podcast at: http://www.deepstorage.net/NEW/GBoS

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