SMBs Balk at Backup

New data protection products appear for SMBs, who still need convincing

May 25, 2006

4 Min Read
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Storage vendors have released a flurry of new data protection products recently. But they're finding that SMBs and remote offices aren't always convinced they need to employ virtual tape libraries (VTLs), continuous data protection (CDP), and other disk-based backup products.

Here's a rundown of the latest SMB backup news:

  • HP today unveiled a handful of data protection products for SMBs and remote offices, including a low-end VTL. (See HP Adds Data Protection.) The HP StorageWorks Virtual Library System 1002i (VLS1002i) is a different product family than HP's enterprise VTL, which uses software from startup Sepaton, scales to 70 Tbytes, and uses Fibre Channel connectivity.

    The VLS1002i scales to 1.5 Tbytes (3 Tbytes with compression)and uses iSCSI. The new VTL's pricing begins at $6,100. HP isn't naming its OEM partner, but industry sources say it is Overland Storage (See Overland, OEM Ink Deal .)

    HP also launched a midrange MSL4048 LTO tape library aimed at remote sites that stores up to 19.2 Tbytes, and the vendor has enhanced its Data Protection Express backup software.

    Other data protection products for SMBs and remote offices unveiled this week include the following:

  • FalconStor released a CDP Storage Server kit for remote offices and branch offices. The package is aimed at VARs who want to create appliances for CDP and remote replication in those environments. (See FalconStor Delivers CDP.)

  • Breece Hill started shipping its BizGuardian backup and recovery appliance for SMBs and departments. The appliance includes EMC Retrospect backup and recovery software and combines disk and tape into one box. (See EMC Upgrades Retrospect.)Breece Hill's appliance backs up data from desktops, notebooks, or servers and lets users restore files themselves. Pricing begins at $25,000. (See Breece Hill Releases Guard.)

  • Teneros rolled out an SMB version of its Application Continuity Appliance for Microsoft Exchange. Teneros says the SMB appliance provides instant failover in the event of planned or unplanned downtime of Exchange and requires no on-site IT. The small business appliance supports up to 75 mailboxes with a maximum Exchange mail store of 50 Gbytes, costing $9,995. (See Teneros Breaks $10K.)

    Despite the products being thrown their way, admins at smaller firms are still struggling with the best way to implement advanced data protection technologies -- especially disk-based backup.

    For example, Bill Case, technical support manager of 100-person mechanical engineering firm Peter Basso Associates in Troy, Michigan, says he still hasn't taken the plunge to disk backup. Case uses the HP MSL6040 midrange tape library while pondering CDP, VTL, and replication.

    "Disk backup is something I'm interested in, but we're trying to figure out the best route to go," he says. "I always have a comfort level with tape. It gives me comfort knowing last night's tape is in my bag and the previous version is offsite. Am I looking forward to the time I won't have to carry tapes around? Sure. And of course, I'd like it to be faster and more granular. But I want to find something that works."

    Ryan Mullen, an IT admin for MSLG Home Loans in Reno, Nevada, also can't escape tape completely, although he is backing up to disk first. MLSG recently upgraded from an older Breece Hill appliance to the BizGuardian. His new system has 2.1 Tbytes of disk capacity, which Mullen says stores about two-and-a-half weeks' worth of data. MLSG's 140 employees back up critical business information -- Exchange and an imaging system used to track loans -- on the appliance. Mullen can restore data from the past 17 days or so from disk, but the rest is offsite on tape."I would like to think the disk solution would get us away from tape, but we're in the same boat a lot of people are in -- if something catastrophic happened to our building, we would have tape offsite so we could retrieve data," he admits. "We're not big enough to accommodate the price of streaming offsite backups."

    Mullen says he first looked at disk and tape backup products from Overland but found them too expensive. He also likes the idea of Breece Hill's all-in-one approach, which includes disk, tape, and software. "I dont believe a business our size is their target audience," he says of Overland. "They were a lot more money and intensive to implement. We're a three-man IT shop. When we have a problem, we don't want to convince the software vendor it's not the hardware vendor's fault and the hardware vendor it's not the software vendor's fault."

    Still, there are things he would pay extra for -- like a second processor in the Breece Hill box, which only comes with a single controller. "An extra processor can always help," he says.

    — Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Breece Hill LLC

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL)

  • Sepaton Inc.

  • Teneros Inc.

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