The BridgeSTOR for Symantec Backup Exec 2010 Appliance essentially rolls a backup server, deduplication functionality, and efficient storage into a single device. Bridgestor touts the combination of integrated deduplication software with hardware-based data compression and thin provisioning. Bridgestor CEO John Matze noted that the latter isn't a part of most software-based backup platforms--Symantec's included--and usually requires additional heavy lifting on the part of IT to implement. Bridgestor is taking the all-in-one approach.
"It's combining a lot of different pieces and integrating it all," Matze said in an interview. "A customer can get it that day, plug it into the wall, put it into their domain, and they're backing up that evening."
While the appliance does not necessarily come with the full Backup Exec 2010 suite, it does include a license and one year of 24-7 support--direct from Symantec--for Backup Exec's deduplication functionality at no extra cost. The upside for Symantec is additional exposure and market share for Backup Exec--in essence, companies that purchase the new Bridgestor appliance become Symantec customers, too. In Matze's view, adding compression and thin provisioning to deduplication software--like that of Backup Exec--is critical for platforms straining under increasing data loads.
"If you're going to have deduplication and you don't have compression, it's like having a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich--just with peanut butter and no jelly," Matze said. "It's a multiplier effect on top of your deduplication. It's kind of a no-brainer from a green standpoint and a disk standpoint to add compression to the system."
Bridgestor claims a data reduction ratio of up to nine-to-one for its Backup Exec appliance, meaning an actual capacity of 16 TB could hold as much as 144 TB in virtual backup-to-disk terms. That could make it an appealing option for midsize businesses contending with big data and looking for an on-premises platform, but lacking the financial or IT resources for enterprise products like EMC's Data Domain.
"A lot of these SMB guys have the same problems that the big boys have, they just don't have the budget," Matze said. "The trick is how do you get that same kind of functionality into an environment that is affordable for the SMB so they can buy the technology."
Though Bridgestor doesn't have a target customer size etched in stone, the capacity and pricing of its appliances--the Symantec model starts at around $19,000--is generally aimed at midsize firms. "It would be the companies that are too small to be big and too big to be small," Matze said. He added that most current customers have somewhere in that 1 TB to 10 TB range of data and want to be able to eventually handle up to 20 TB or so. The vendor's smallest deduplication unit actually scales up to 32 TB.
Bridgestor's Symantec appliance joins similar existing products geared for Microsoft DPM and VMware. Symantec has announced plans to add its own Backup Exec appliance option to the existing client-side software version later this year. Although Symantec has not yet revealed many product details, Matze believes that the pricing and features of Symantec's appliance will ultimately target small businesses that wouldn't necessarily need the midmarket Bridgestor appliance and its thin provisioning and compression functionality. Those smaller customers would likewise not be a fit for Symantec's larger NetBackup platform.
"It's designed for a different market," Matze said of Symantec's coming Backup Exec appliance.
As the volume of corporate data continues to grow, IT pros keep investing in new storage usage technologies. Compression still ranks No. 1, according to InformationWeek Analytics' 2010 Data Deduplication Survey, though respondents rely increasingly on dedupe, as well as thin provisioning and MAID. Download it here (registration required).