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Backup: N-able emerges from white box to aim at enterprise customers

It spent years integrated with Solarwinds and as a re-sold product, but now it plans to target enterprise customers with a backup product that aims at granular file protection and restore

N-able Backup has so far been a white box brand best known to integrators, but now it has plans to become a name recognised by enterprise customers. Its big selling point? To carry out backups file-by-file rather than take a global image, slashing backup windows by a factor of 60 and the size of backups by a factor of six.

The supplier gives the example of a 500GB server with daily incremental backups of 30GB, which amounts to a two-monthly total of 2.15TB. With N-able, daily backups come down to 500MB and only build up to 380GB at the end of two months. That gives N-able an advantage in scenarios where backups might go to a cloud target.

“In other words, if you want your backup window to last less than an hour, you must give it a bandwidth of 68Mbps to the cloud if it is 30GB, or 1.1Mbps if it is only 500MB,” said Chris Groot, general manager at N-able, during a recent presentation at the IT Press Tour.

“With N-able, backups no longer stop you from working normally,” he added.

N-able exploits the fact that the compression algorithm in incremental backups is more efficient when it works file-by-file rather than on the global disk image. In this way, files can keep track of small changes, and all changes within files are dealt with in a granular fashion. With global image backup, whenever the date or location of a file changes, the whole file is replicated in its entirety.

The other advantage of N-able’s approach is that it allows machine restores in a different form to its original configuration. You could therefore see files go from a physical server on-site to being restored to a virtual machine in the cloud, depending on the best format – with all functionality accessible from the N-able N-central console.

Backups taken by N-able are held in the supplier’s cloud. Groot said that to have its own cloud resources is a big plus compared with letting resellers furnish their own storage space, in large part because such service providers are often the target of cyber attacks.

Read more about backup

  • Storage 101: Snapshots vs backup. We go over the basics of snapshots. They are a quick and accessible way of protecting data, but they are not a substitute for backup. So how do you combine the two?
  • Backup failure: Four key areas where backups go wrong. We look at the key ways that backups can fail – via software issues, hardware problems, trouble in the infrastructure and good old human error – and suggest ways to mitigate them.

In addition to servers and workstations – physical and virtual – N-able is also capable of protecting data on a number of Azure cloud services, including Azure virtual machines, Microsoft 365 data and documents stored on OneDrive.

N-able offers a service – Mail Assure – which brings antivirus protection to Office 365 mailboxes. N-able also offers EDR – Endpoint Detection and Response – to detect threats against protected machines. 

Separated from Solarwinds

N-able claims to have supplied its service to close to 12,000 integrators, who have then sold it on via cloud backup services to a large number of enterprises, though they could not give an actual figure.

Formed at the start of the 2000s, N-able disappeared as an off-the-shelf product following a 2013 takeover by Solarwinds, which offers IT infrastructure management products.

N-able then became independent from Solarwinds again in July 2021.

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