Overland Storage Layers in Disk-Based Data Protection

In case no one has noticed lately, the number of ways in which companies can configure disk-based storage systems to protect their data has multiplied significantly. This fact was brought clearly into focus by a pre-recorded video lecture that I recently watched on Overland Storage‘s Tiered Data Protection (TDP) website. Though I think most users are well aware that disk is now a viable target for backup, it didn’t really hit me until I watched this video by Overland Storage’s VP of Worldwide Sales, Bob Farkaly, just how many configuration options are available when using disk as a backup target.

During the presentation, “Professor” Farkaly took the viewer (in this case, me) through the disk-based offerings that Overland Storage has for backup. These include:

  • Disk-as-Disk: the REO 1500, REO 4500 and REO 9100 products. It seems that with the incessant noise one hears about deduplication every time you read or hear about something storage related, it’s easy to forget about the fact that using disk-as-disk is not necessarily a bad thing. Deduplication may incur a write penalty when backing up data, a read penalty when retrieving data and, more than likely, an up-front financial penalty when purchasing and licensing the deduplication technology. Though Overland Storage offers a deduplicating backup appliance (which I’ll get to in a second), these versions of the REO peel away some of the complexity and cost and give users options to present the systems as either disk or virtual tape libraries (VTLs) through iSCSI and FC interfaces.
  • Disk with Compression: The REO 4500C and REO9100C products. I have to admit this version of Overland Storage’s disk family caught me a bit by surprise. While I am aware that most deduplicating disk appliances compress data after it is deduplicated, this is the first disk-based appliance that I can remember encountering that offers hardware based compression. Though I need to get some more details on how this feature works and its impacts on price and performance, this seems like an almost no-brainer upgrade if you are already leaning towards using disk-as-disk in your backup and archive plans. If my past experience serves me correctly, using hardware based compression incurs only a nominal read-and-write penalty and most users should be able to safely and confidently double the amount of data they store on these appliances.
  • Disk with Deduplication: The REO 9500D. Obviously Overland Storage isn’t stupid and to compete in this marketplace, it needs to offer a disk-based storage system that supports deduplication. Yet what I found interesting in watching the video is that Farkaly did not actively promote using the REO 9500D as the initial backup target. While Farkaly did not preclude the 9500D as a possible target, the approach he recommended is what I privately have started to adopt: a “Backup to native disk first and then copy the data to a deduplicating appliance second”. Why? Not because I think deduplication is bad. But when I was an end-user, a major concern of management on the daily 7:00 am operation calls is what caused last night’s backups to fail. No one ever asked what the deduplication ratio was. While most deduplication appliances likely do an OK job the first 60, 90 and maybe even 120 days, I think companies still need to exercise caution about deploying deduplication too quickly in their production backup environments.

The videos on Overland Storage’s TDP website are definitely worth the time to watch for those who are looking to learn more about tiered data protection as well as those who also want a better understanding of what is the best type of disk system to introduce into your backup process. What you read in the press can sometimes leave one with the impression that deduplicating all of your backup data is the only way to go. Longer term it probably is, but for now the journey of introducing disk into the backup process has just begun and Overland Storage’s strategy of “Walk, then run” when introducing disk into the backup process is one worth following.

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