Buyer beware! If you don’t consider the following misconceptions, you could waste thousands of dollars on your next backup and recovery hardware purchase.

If you’re looking for a backup appliance, you likely are already considering three things:

  • Storage Size
  • Cost
  • Features

While these may sound obvious, there are some common misconceptions that make truly comparing vendors challenging.

Misconception #1: The bigger the disk drive, the better the value.

Fact: You’re not buying a disk drive, you’re buying the protection of data. The key question is “How much data can I protect with this appliance?” In order to answer this question, start with the size of the disk drive, or “raw” space. Next subtract the disk space needed by the vendor’s software. This is the “usable” space for storing your data. Finally, consider how efficiently the vendor’s software reduces the size of the stored data through “deduplication.” Deduplication is a software process that should assure data is only stored once, regardless of how many copies are being protected.

Takeaway 1: Deduplication is far more important than the size of the disk drive.

Takeaway 2: The key question is, “How much of my source data will this appliance protect?”

Misconception #2: All deduplication software is the same.

Fact: Not every deduplication technology is created equal. Pick the wrong product, and you’ll be left footing a much larger bill than you expected.
Many vendors claim to have deduplication built into their backup and recovery appliances, but fall alarmingly short when put to the test. For example, if you look at a variety of vendors with backup appliances and take into account the list price, source backup and usable capacity and deduplication efficiency, you’ll find critical discrepancies in their claims.

  • Source backup refers to the maximum size of the source data size (before deduplication and compression) that can be safely protected.
  • Usable capacity is essentially the backup storage available on the appliance after the disk is formatted, the vendor’s software is added, and RAID is applied.
    Looking at how a variety of models perform, the storage space efficiency (source backup needed/usable capacity required) varies widely between vendors when compared apples-to-apples. We compared ourselves to the information posted on the websites of two other backup and recovery appliance vendors, and the results show that the Arcserve UDP Appliance series is much more cost effective while providing 3X more storage space efficiency (see figure one).

Appliance_Charts 1

Figure One. The amount of data you can backup, how much useable capacity is required, the price per TB of protected data, and the storage space efficiency of current backup appliances.

* List Price / Suggested Price per Protected TB, without maintenance
** Source Backup (TB) /Usable Capacity Required (TB)
Source: Arcserve, based on publicly available information.

It’s interesting to note that within figure one, the amount of data you want backup (source backup) was commonly 50% (or less) of the usable capacity in other vendor’s appliance models, while being exceedingly more expensive.

The next chart (figure two) highlights the same results as a ratio of price per suggested backup volume, grouped across different appliances sizes. This demonstrates the impact of how inefficient backup storage can be extremely costly.

Appliance_Charts 2

Figure Two: Shows the cost of protecting a suggested backup volume across a number of different appliances sizes.

Source: Arcserve, based on publicly available information from Arcserve, Vendor “U” and Vendor “B”, and publicly available pricing on the Internet.

To offer a more thorough look at why the Arcserve UDP Appliance series consistently offers 3-10X more in storage space efficiency for less cost, the next image (figure three) displays data from an actual UDP Appliance customer in their real production environment.

Appliance_Charts 3

Figure Three: Shows a real UDP customer seeing an increase of 3-10X in storage space efficiency.

The overall data reduction is also of interest, as it’s consistently in the 70-90% range. This is explained by the way UDP Appliances are conservatively sized to have 3X more storage efficiency, while providing true source-side global deduplication. For reference:

  • Many vendor appliances perform target-side deduplication, which means it moves all of your data to your target server before starting to dedupe. This process is like moving a library of data across your network, which is very slow and cumbersome. You also need to “reserve” space to stage the deduplication – and this is not free and uses compute resources.
  • Arcserve UDP Appliances dedupe data across each of your nodes, jobs, and sites before it’s transferred to your target server (source-side deduplication). So instead of moving a library of data across your network, it’s more like moving one book. Source-side deduplication eliminates data redundancy on all storage systems, which improves performance and reduces bandwidth usage. And it’s global, so we only backup data once.

Takeaway 1: Deduplication can mean many different things, so don’t be duped by dedupe.

Takeaway 2: Arcserve’s global source-side deduplication is extremely efficient – that’s money in your pocket.

Misconception #3: All backup and recovery appliances have the same features, so it doesn’t matter which one I buy.

Fact: Noted above in the previous misconceptions, not all backup and recovery appliances offer the same storage efficiency and deduplication technology that you need to manage big data sets cost-effectively. Further, many vendors offer stand-alone deduplication software – so you’re not benefiting from one, single-instance storage solution, and instead, are forced to juggle data across multiple solutions.

Arcserve UDP Appliances are also totally inter-operable and can replicate to or from other UDP Appliances and UDP software instances. There’s no extra per-sock or per-server licenses for servers backed up to the appliance. Also, Arcserve appliances are easy to deploy even for non-IT personnel through a step-by-step wizard.

Finally, the UDP Appliances offer support for a public or private cloud, including the Arcserve Cloud. As an added service to the UDP Appliance, the Arcserve Cloud offers the same enterprise-class capabilities without the costs of secondary sites, maintenance and personnel.

Takeaway 1: Vendors that offer backup and recovery appliances provide vastly different feature sets, so ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Takeaway 2: Your appliance can be easy-to-use because it doesn’t do much, or it can be easy-to-use and feature-rich at the same time because it was designed that way.