EMC Advances Data Protection Portfolio

EMC upgrades a wide range of products within its backup and archiving portfolio

David Hill

November 26, 2008

5 Min Read
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11:50 AM -- EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) states that it currently protects over 1,500 total petabytes (which is really quite a bit of data!) with its Avamar, Disk Library, and Centera solutions for more than 7,000 customers. The focus of this latest announcement, however, was around four updated or next-generation software products. EMC announced new capabilities for Data Protection Advisor, NetWorker, Avamar, and RecoverPoint that focus on driving down the cost and risk of protecting data.

One of the reasons for EMC's ongoing success is its ability to make successful acquisitions that complement its own internal R&D strengths. Well known acquisitions Documentum, RSA, and VMware have maintained a large measure of independence for customer reasons. Keeping acquisitions autonomous is not a problem if the customers of the acquired are primarily IT organizations within end user companies and not other vendors. And that is the case with the four products for which EMC announced new capabilities. While none have the market recognition of Documentum, et. al. (with the exception of Legato), each represents a technically solid, high-quality product within its market space.

  • Data Protection Advisor 5.0. This represents the next generation and the rebranding of EMC's Backup Advisor, and illustrates EMC's second-quarter acquisition of WysDM, whose name will now disappear. But WysDM leaves a solid product for data protection management. Data protection management products are enablers of data protection, but do not perform data protection. Rather, they watch over, guard, and/or take care of the data protection process. In EMC's case, Data Protection Advisor helps IT administrators monitor, troubleshoot, analyze, and plan across their data protection environments. For example, it can accelerate troubleshooting and analyze capacity and performance against service level agreements. Data Protection Advisor does this by automating the data protection management process through a collection engine, an analysis engine, and a reporting engine. Not only can this improve risk management (by ensuring that service level agreements are met and that critical data is protected), but it also can help improve change management through its ability to track and enforce configurations to improve performance. And in this economy of heightened cost awareness, Data Protection Advisor reduces the effort required for elemental processes (such as speeding up the time to locate the cause of persistent backup failures) and can help avoid unnecessary purchases. As a result, products, such as the EMC Data Protection Advisor, are likely to attract a lot of interest within IT organizations. Specifically, EMC announced greater support for Data Protection Advisor capabilities on platforms including its own VMware, Avamar, and Celerra solutions, as well as expanded NetApp support and new support for Data Domain.

  • NetWorker 7.5. EMC's NetWorker is one of those classic backup/restore software solutions that actually do data protection. But these products have gone far beyond traditional backup to tape. For example, as part of NetWorker 7.5, EMC announced new support for Microsoft solutions (unified protection via VSS, Hyper-V support, and SharePoint granular recovery), VMware (for discovering, visualizing, and tracking VMs as well as simplified licensing), and new integration with other EMC products and platforms (RecoverPoint, HomeBase and Symmetrix). Those changes are significant given the context that backup/restore products are being reinvented in place to provide the main control vehicle for data protection processes of every sort. NetWorker 7.5 illustrates this quiet revolution (which is taking place in an evolutionary manner) through its centralized control of traditional and next-generation data protection technologies including data de-duplication and backup to disk.

  • Avamar 4.1. This is a positive point release update for Avamar, one of the pioneers in the data de-duplication backup and recovery market. Avamar products focus especially on remote and branch offices and VMware infrastructure environments as well as data centers with bandwidth constraints or backup window bottlenecks. Avamar has hit a positive nerve among businesses as shown by its triple-digit growth. This point release focuses on enhancing management ease-of-use and scalability, such as reducing the RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent Nodes) architecture's overhead on the server as well as supporting smaller configurations with RAIN's ability to provide resiliency against failure of single nodes.

  • RecoverPoint 3.1. EMC's RecoverPoint focuses on continuous data protection (CDP) and continuous remote replication functionalities that enable on-demand data protection and protection and recovery of data at any point in time. In an era where the permanent loss of data is unthinkable, RecoverPoint fills a very valuable role. The new point release announced various improvements, such as non-disruptive upgrades and a 20 percent increase in throughput performance. In the most important change, EMC introduced stretched RecoverPoint CDP, which enables synchronous data protection between two sites, from traditional distances measured (at most) in hundreds of meters to a distance of up to 30 kilometers. What this means is that a company employing RecoverPoint should suffer no loss of data if only its primary site goes down in a disaster. A tertiary site can provide the necessary distance for true long-distance disaster recovery with asynchronous data protection. Only if a true disaster destroys both the primary and secondary sites simultaneously would there be the possibility of the loss of data (and that would probably be limited to minutes or less). So except in very rare circumstances, all of a RecoverPoint V3.1 customers data should be protected all the time.

    Data protection is an area that enterprises dare not skimp on because in doing so they significantly increase their risk. Despite that, enterprises still need to get the best returns for their data protection investments. EMC has proclaimed that its backup, recovery, and archive portfolio has had a banner year in 2008 so it must be getting its message across. And these new enhancements to four of its key products -- Data Protection Advisor, NetWorker, Avamar, and RecoverPoint -- deliver key new capabilities in the areas of analysis and reporting, simplified backup for Microsoft and VMware virtual environments, data de-duplication, and replication that help to further reduce risk and enhance data protection management in the face of continued storage growth. A lot of small changes can add up to big overall improvements. The fact is that these new features and solutions prove that EMC is continuing to offer its customers a lot of new data protection capabilities.

    – David Hill is principal of Mesabi Group LLC, which focuses on helping organizations make their complex storage, storage management, and interrelated IT infrastructure decisions easier by making the choices simpler and clearer to understand.

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