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DCIG 2011 Midrange Array Snapshot Software Buyer’s Guide Now Available for Free Download

Today DCIG, LLC, is pleased to announce the availability of the DCIG 2011 Midrange Array Snapshot Software Buyer’s Guide. This Buyer’s Guide weights, scores and ranks the snapshot feature from 18 midrange array providers. In this report, special attention is given to how overall snapshot functionality and how well the snapshot feature on each midrange array integrates with specific applications, backup software and operating systems.

MASS-Buyers-Guide-Logo.jpgPart of the impetus for this Buyer’s Guide sprung out of feedback received from the DCIG 2010 Midrange Array Buyer’s Guide, which indicated that DCIG did not sufficiently examine the snapshot features found on midrange arrays in that inaugural Buyer’s Guide.

In that Buyer’s Guide DCIG admittedly only looked at how snapshots were implemented on midrange arrays at a very high level. That Buyer’s Guide only reported on whether a midrange array model supported snapshots and, to a limited degree, how they were implemented.

This Buyer’s Guide corrects that first Buyer’s Guide’s shortcomings by conducting an in-depth look at the snapshot functionality that exists on many different midrange arrays. As DCIG came to find out while doing this research, there are significant differences among the midrange arrays in the following areas:

  • How well each midrange array implements snap­shots
  • How well each snapshot feature integrates with production applications, backup software and operating systems
  • What options are available from each midrange array vendor to manage their snapshot software

However the majority of the impetus for this Buyer’s Guide was the recognition that much more powerful forces are occurring in the computing industry. Specifically the advent of desktop and server virtualization has created a growing need for near real-time backup and recovery of virtual machines (VMs) that are ideally done off-host.

DCIG is getting confirmed reports that desktop virtualization initiatives are already well under way in many organizations and poised for wide-scale adoption in 2012. The need to protect these thousands or tens of thousands of virtualized desktop images in addition to the hundreds or even thousands of servers that are already virtualized will put new pressure on organizations to find better, faster ways to protect their virtualized environment.

It is already apparent that protecting these VMs and virtual desktops using traditional backup software techniques, such as differential, incremental and full backups, is insufficient. These backups take too long to complete, create too much overhead on the servers they are protect­ing and store data in a fashion that takes too long to recover and is not easily re-purposed.

Midrange array based snapshots promise to change all of that. By taking snapshots of VM and virtual desktop images, organizations eliminate the overhead of performing and scheduled server-based backups while getting viable post-production copies of data that can be used for multiple purposes including backup, testing, development and recovery.

So it would seem to be a logical conclusion that using midrange array snapshot software would be an ideal way to off-load the overhead associated with backup from the server to the storage array. This assumption is based on the premise that snapshot software offers functionality that is comparable to backup software.

Yet in many cases, depending on whose midrange array snapshot software a company is using, it is still premature to draw this conclusion. As DCIG discovered in its research, just because all of the midrange arrays covered in the DCIG 2011 Midrange Array Snapshot Software Buyer’s Guide offered snapshot functionality does not yet mean that they are all equally well positioned to assume backup’s role in enterprises.

A number only offer snapshot functionality with little or no integration with current applications, backup software or operating systems. Many that do offer integration only support a limited number of applications, backup software or operating systems and are only suitable for replacing backup software in those circumstances.

Snapshot software is also neither created nor implemented the same on midrange arrays. There are four different types of snapshots (five if you count replicas) that are implemented on midrange arrays, with some vendors offering two or more snapshot types on their arrays.

Some of DCIG’s key findings in preparing this Buyer’s Guide included:

  • 94% of all midrange arrays support the presentation of snapshots to other applications for both read and write
  • 89% of midrange arrays offer application integration with Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server
  • 83% of midrange arrays support taking snapshots using the Copy-on-Write methodology
  • 77% of midrange arrays offer application integration with Oracle
  • 67% of midrange arrays can take Full Copy snapshots of a single volume
  • 39% of midrange arrays support taking snapshots using the Allocate-on-Write methodology
  • 33% of midrange arrays require that users store snapshots on the same tier of disk as the production data
  • 22% of midrange arrays support taking more than 1024 snapshots on a single volume
  • 17% of midrange arrays offer NO integration with any backup software

Midrange array products covered in this DCIG 2011 Midrange Array Snapshot Software Buyer’s Guide included snapshot software from:

  • Dell Compellent & EqualLogic
  • Dot Hill
  • EMC Clariion & VNX
  • HDS AMS 200
  • HP 3PAR, EVA & P4000
  • IceWEB 3000 & 5000 Series
  • Infortrend ESVA F70
  • IBM N Series
  • NEC D3 & D4
  • NetApp FAS3000
  • Nexsan DATABeast, i400 and SASBoy
  • Pillar Data Systems Axiom
  • Xiotech Emprise 9000

This DCIG 2011 Midrange Array Snapshot Buyer’s Guide is available immediately for download for free with registration at the following link.

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