What Makes a Good Backup Appliance – Part 3 of 3

In my earlier posts from this series, I discussed adoption rates and rationales for purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs) over do-it-yourself (DIY) backup servers and then explored some top-level DIY vs PBBA determinants and non-determinants.

Start with ease-of-architecture/acquisition (covered in part 2), meaning right-sized parts that are assured to work well together – and the convenience of a shorter PO as a side-benefit. After that, “DIY vs PBBA” really is all about integration and enablement. To add color to that conversation, here are some ideas of what a Good, Better, and Best PBBA might look like.

A GOOD Backup Appliance

Compared with a DIY backup server, a “good” backup appliance is one that simply embraces ease-of-installation (SETUP.EXE has been run for you) and ease-of-acquisition (the parts fit together well), period. That’s it. And if you are deploying 150 appliances across a branch-office infrastructure, that is more than enough! Anything that reduces repetitive or non-strategic time, and ensures a consistency of deployment is worth the money. And frankly, when time or repetitive scale matter most, any other benefits from a “better” or “best” appliance is simply a bonus.

A BETTER Backup Appliance

Above the ease of installation & acquisition in a “good” appliance, a “better” appliance is more than the sum of its parts. Whereas “good” appliances may only deliver value during initial adoption, “better” appliances deliver ongoing incremental value after the initial deployment is complete. Look for:

  • Additional software components that might be pre-installed or otherwise unavailable, such as one PBBA that has additional storage and security technologies that result in a more durable platform and protection scheme for your data.
  • Integration and insight between the underlying hardware and the software, whereby a single UI manages all of the components seamlessly.
  • Comprehensive management tools or functionality that stretches across appliances.

While a “good” appliance may be a nondescript black-box, “Better” appliances offer management tools that reduce ongoing OpEx through labor efficiency and increases in functionality.

A BEST Backup Appliance

Forgiving the grammar, a “best” appliance brings expertise, as well as the ease/quality of a “good” appliance and the integration/enablement of a “better” appliance. Perhaps that expertise comes from phone-home services that enable the vendor to partner with you in remotely monitoring or managing the appliances.Such functionality might ensure that new software updates are rigorously tested and then transparently deployed with no additional effort like that which a DIY backup server farm would entail. Perhaps the appliance transparently leverages a hybrid-cloud model so that storage might be supplemented, data might be vaulted for survivability/BC-DR preparedness, or even the ability to recover either from the cloud or to the cloud. The “best” appliances offer more than tactical delivery of data protection with/without management enhancements; “best” appliances are those that distinguish themselves by enabling new scenarios or services that turnkey appliances by themselves simply can’t.

Even there, there is more to look at

Certainly, there are other distinguishing factors, such as core feature functionality, ROI/TCO, RPO/RTO SLAs, confidence in vendor, alignment with partner, etc.  But most folks already look at many of those factors for both backup software (DIY) and appliances (PBBA) – so hopefully, this gives you even more to look for when looking at your next generation of data protection infrastructure.

I hope this blog-series was helpful. If so, feel free to leave comments on the other areas of data protection that you’d like fresh ideas on what to look for. Thanks for reading.


[Originally blogged via ESG’s Technical Optimist.com]

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