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Vendor launches disk-based backup appliance

Kevin Komiega

Data Domain Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based backup and recovery startup staffed by former Network Appliance executives, is prepping its first product launch. The company has spent years developing a disk-based appliance that it hopes will take the place of tape in backup and restore operations.

The Data Domain DD200 Recovery Appliance and the Data Domain Restore Protection Manager (DD RPM) software were designed to support existing backup software and require fewer disks for backup data than conventional ATA RAID backup solutions, according to the company.

DD RPM was designed to protect recovery copies. With primary storage, the design center focuses on block I/O response time. Data Domain said DD RPM includes the first production file system to have an architecture designed and optimized for data protection.

After storing a recovery copy, DD RPM verifies that the data on disk is reachable and correct at the time of the backup. DD RPM then repeats consistency checking and data self-healing continuously in the background. DD RPM also protects against erroneous block overwrites and many of the other software faults that can cause silent data loss in conventional storage systems, the company said.

One DD200 appliance with just 16 disks can hold up to 23 terabytes (TB) of recovery data.

Brian Biles, Data Domain's vice president of marketing, said the company is working with all of the major third-party backup vendors to ensure that popular

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backup and restore software products, such as Veritas NetBackup and Legato NetWorker, will work with the DD200.

Data Domain's DD200 Recovery Appliance and the DD RPM software will be generally available in the second half of 2003. The 4U rack mount unit is $58,000 for 23 TB of recovery copy storage, or about $2.50 per GB.

Data Domain is not alone in the world of disk-based backup appliances. Quantum Corp., a Milpitas, Calif., company known for making and selling tape drives, has had a disk-based appliance on the market for more than a year. Quantum's DX30 has been positioned to sit in front of a tape library to accelerate the backup and restore process.

"Data Domain is offering a product that fits conservatively in the enterprise, where backup has to evolve," said Steve Kenniston, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass. "If it wasn't clear that tape automation would be challenged by disk-based solutions, it is crystal clear starting now. Data Domain's solution has the capability to deliver a solid [return on investment] from disk and tape savings, as well as enterprise reliability and faster recovery times."

There has been a hierarchy in storage since the mid --> 80s. Disk has traditionally been used for primary storage, tape automation has served backup operations, and tape vaulting has been used for archiving data. But the gap between the performance requirements of backup and restore operations and the cost of disk versus tape-based backup systems is closing fast.

Kenniston said there are a number of disk-to-disk products on the market that act as cache for tape or try to replace existing backup technology. He said Data Domain's product does neither. "It has a great deal of intelligence built in that acts as more than cache for tape," he said, "and helps to take better advantage of tape and disk space -- and they are not trying to compete with the backup vendors. Backup has to change. I keep saying this and it is true; these guys really help that shift."

According to Kenniston, the DX30 product has a different level of intelligence. Quantum can emulate tape and help IT understand how data is laid out to make the shift over to disk easier and going to tape easy, Data Domain helps to reduce cost by reducing the amount of capacity required.

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Let us know what you think about the story. E-mailKevin Komiega, News Writer

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