New backup platform mixes local and cloud

Summary:When you think of Quantum, you usually think of tape drives. But the company's been morphing into a software developer -- and now has something to show for it in the area of backup, cloud and data reduction.

When you think of Quantum, you usually think of tape drives. But the company's been morphing into a software developer -- and now has something to show for it in the area of backup, cloud and data reduction. But is a single-vendor approach the right one?

Quantum's new software platform pulls together the company's new deduplication virtual appliance, the Dxi V1000, and its vmPRO 4000 system -- which itself consists of two appliances, one virtual one physical. The idea, according to European product marketing manager Stephan Estevez, is that the system fills the gap between pure cloud-based backup and using in-house expensive storage arrays. In other words, he argues that you get the advantages of backing up to and restoring from both cloud and local data.

Yes, I was a bit confused at this point too. What's key is that backing up to cloud is fine but restoring isn't because it's slow and you want that data back fast.

So the new system does deduping and backup of virtual servers using a combination of the Dxi V1000 virtual appliance and VMware's Changed Block Tracking technology, which exposes to plug-ins which disk blocks in a virtual disk have changed. In this way, says Estevez, you can reduce by 75 percent the blocks that need backing up.

Deduping in software sounds expensive in terms of resources but, according to Estevez, it's not hugely CPU-intensive and RAM use is capped at 4GB. The data then goes to the cloud with a copy held locally.

Typical use cases and backing up from the edge of the enterprise to the core, for example remote offices backing up and replicating that backup to the corporate datacentre. Also, smaller companies wanting disaster recovery can back up using a local DXi V1000, so that recovery can be made from local storage.

In future, Quantum plans to offer its own cloud-based services -- something which I'm seeing more of -- Blue Coat for example recently announced more cloud offerings, as EMC and Symantec have already done -- and to resell this technology to third parties.

The general message though is that Quantum is mixing up private and public infrastructures so that they can be used seamlessly. This is fairly easy to do when the vendor develops the software and hardware as well as owning the cloud infrastructure. It's not so easy when the clouds are multiply owned and managed, so there's much less control of variables.

One answer is cloud management platforms, which I discussed in my previous blog, whose job is made easier by open cloud software and APIs such as CloudStack and OpenStack, both of which are used by cloud management service provider RightScale.

Hybrid clouds are the direction most enterprises are heading, and their options for getting there seem to grow daily. Is a CIO's job a happy one?

Topics: Networking

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