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NetApp has launched a range of backup appliances with the cloud as their target. The AltaVault range are physical, virtual and cloud appliances, and result from NetApp’s acquisition of Riverbed’s SteelStore hybrid cloud backup appliance product family late in 2014.
The physical appliances provide local disk capacity on 4TB and 6TB nearline-SAS drives with data backed up to a cloud service provider. They are the AVA400 and AVA800 backup devices, but there is also an AVA400 cold storage offering.
The AVA400 backup provides between 32TB and 192TB of local storage with maximum throughput of 5.5TB per hour and up to 960TB of cloud storage. The AVA800 backup has between 48TB and 384TB of local capacity with max throughput of 8TB per hour and up to 1.92PB of cloud storage supported.
The AVA400 cold storage has 32TB of local storage with capacity in the cloud of 10PB supported and throughput of 350GB per hour.
The virtual appliances are deployed into a VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, with storage provisioned locally. They are the AVA V8, V16 and V32, with the numbers indicating the usable local capacity available. Like the hardware devices, these use local storage with backups vaulted off to a cloud provider according to policies set.
Meanwhile, the C4, C8 and C16 exist as a cloud appliance in Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services clouds but also have local disk capacity. The virtual appliance and cloud appliance products come in backup mode and cold storage mode, with lower throughput on the latter.
Backup appliances have increased in popularity in recent years with a key benefit being that they usually combine backup software in a disk-based hardware package that makes them suited to smaller organisations and branch offices that may lack IT staff resources.
NetApp’s AltaVault products take a slightly different tack in that they don’t come bundled with backup software and all have the cloud as a target. They are aimed at customers that otherwise might use tape and could be categorised as hybrid cloud backup appliances.
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Hybrid cloud has emerged as the key way in which customers relate to the cloud. That’s because at present potential bandwidth and latency limitations often make operations purely in the cloud unreliable for workloads that require rapid data access. But with local disk as cache, the cloud can be used as a bulk data store.
NetApp cloud solutions marketing manager Laurence James said there are few, if any, limits on the type of backup software and processes they can work with and that a key benefit is that they preserve an organisation’s existing investment in backup infrastructure.
“You could even move data to them with a dd or TAR command, but obviously we recommend use of backup software," he said. "The good thing about AltaVault is that you don’t have to change any of your existing backup software or the process or policies surrounding it.”
Typically, customers will retain recent backups on local disk for rapid restore with data vaulted to the cloud if not accessed or after a set time period. Given the inherent potential unreliability and bandwidth limitations of the cloud, customers need to ensure they can restore data required quickly from local disk.
“You’ve got to understand the bandwidth issues; the size of the pipe into the cloud is critical. You always want to restore from cache,” said James.