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EVault Makes Its Management Dashboard 'Social'

EVault has launched the latest version of its cloud-connected backup and recovery platform, which the Seagate-owned company said is a significant update to its predecessor and takes a cue from social media with its streamlined management interface.

Features included in EVault 7 include a more resilient architecture, faster backups than EVault 6 and a new management dashboard to address the "social business," according to Karen Jaworski, senior director of product marketing at EVault.

EVault 7 can be dropped into existing IT infrastructures as a physical or virtual appliance, and can create copies of an organization's data across geographical locations, such as branch offices, enabling enterprises to back up to their private clouds, a managed service provider or the EVault cloud. Enterprises also have the option to back up to all three for extra redundancy should they wish to, Jaworski says. Those that still want a local cache for fast recovery over their LAN can use the EVault Express Recovery Appliance: Virtual Edition.

While most of the enhancements in EVault 7 are centered on faster speeds and resiliency, one new feature is a management interface that emulates the look and feel of the online social media dashboards to which many users have become accustomed. Jaworksi says the new approach recognizes the limited time that IT administrators have to check and verify backups. "IT really doesn't have the time, the manpower or the bandwidth to be thinking about their backup and recovery," she says. "They have to be able to come in and out of the conversation, collaborate with other people on their team and troubleshoot really quickly."

The dashboard is integrated with the EVault knowledge base and allows administrators to correlate storage reports with relevant system activity, such as data deletions, through a new interface. "The backup administrator doesn't really have to think much about what's going on," says Jaworski, and the social media design makes it easier to collaborate with team members. "It's a very different way of looking at a management interface."

EVault 6 was introduced in 2007; since then there have been a number of point releases, says Jaworski. EVault 7 has updated support for VMware, including quick granular restoration of files and folders. It's also twice as fast as its predecessor at backing up virtual machines.

The overall EVault platform includes five key components: EVault SaaS, EVault Software, EVault Endpoint Protection, EVault Cloud Disaster Recovery Service and cloud-connected service providers. "Our customers can consume it as software, as an appliance or a cloud service," says Jaworski.

All of the options use the same underlying technology, she said, and the company also provides professional services around deployment and ongoing management.

Jaworksi says a hybrid cloud approach has made off-site backup more feasible for midmarket companies with a lot of data to safeguard, allowing them to balance cost and availability. It also appeals to regulated environments that must back up their data off-site to be compliant.

Steve Brasen, managing research director, systems management at Enterprise Management Associates, says hybrid clouds are typically used for cloud-bursting data storage by moving data to a public cloud when local resources are full, or for tiering where critical data is backed up on-site and less important data is stored in a public cloud. "When all backup data is stored in a public cloud, enterprise requirements place an emphasis on achieving security, reliability and speedy data transfer," he explains.

He says an approach using an appliance that comes pre-built, pre-configured and fully integrated can greatly simplify implementation and administration, as well as provide a modular platform that's easily expanded. It also offers a lower total cost of ownership because it doesn't require additional infrastructure costs. "The downside to an appliance approach is vendor lock-in and the inability to reuse existing storage resources," says Brasen.

Rachel Dines, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, says the major enhancements in EVault 7 aren't about revolutionary features and functionality; they're more about improvements in speed, deployment and manageability. She says, historically, one of EVault's greatest strengths has been its flexibility. "You can deploy EVault in a direct-to-cloud model, or disk-to-disk-to cloud, or add in disaster recovery in the cloud capabilities on top of the current platform."

She says the biggest challenge in cloud backup for enterprises is the time it takes to restore a large amount of data. "This is why most enterprises are most interested in a disk-to-disk-to-cloud model when it comes to cloud-based backups." Dines says adoption is steadily growing; the latest statistics from Forrester Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2012, show enterprises at 26% adoption for disk-to-disk-to-cloud, with another 16% reporting solid plans to implement. "In the enterprise space, most of the adoption to date has been in branch and remote offices."

Dines says the new social dashboard is an interesting feature that she hasn't seen before in backup software. "It's either going to be the next big thing, or a big flop. I'm not sure which."

Jason Buffington, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, says that from an operational standpoint, this model of dashboard makes a lot of sense given the consumerization of IT. He adds that more users in the enterprise have an influence over data protection. "The idea of having a dashboard and a monitoring and resolution system that allows those stakeholders to actually be part of the process is really interesting," he says.

Buffington says enterprises want to have on-premise, fast recovery and control, but also leverage the economics of cloud for long-term retention, something EVault has been offering for some time. "One of the things most folks underappreciated was once you had your data in an EVault appliance, it could then go to an EVault cloud," he says. "That's a topology that we're still seeing gain traction."