June 27, 2016
Arcserve Team

The purpose-built backup appliance: Arcserve UDP vs. Company U

Historically, organizations looking to purchase all-in-one backup and recovery appliances had a few limited choices, especially in the sub-100TB segment of source backup data. The purpose-built backup appliance market has changed drastically in the past year, though, particularly in the mid-market.

Why the market shift?

The emergence of Arcserve UDP Appliances is changing the game – especially for Company U’s prospects and existing customers. The reasons for the acceleration of Arcserve UDP Appliances and the subsequent reversal in market adoption for Company U’s solution are many.

While I will provide more specific detail below, let me net it out executive summary style, first:

  • Arcserve UDP Appliances are more cost-effective and provide more features than company U; one reason being their poor deduplication technology.
  • Company U’s reviews and tech support complaints on public community boards are at an all-time high.
  • Arcserve’s business is growing across the board, and our purpose-built backup appliance and software solutions have become the natural replacement for aging and inefficient technologies in many organizations.

 

The smoking PBBA gun

One of the ways to determine marketing claims is to simply take a look at specifications and features. While Company U offers data deduplication – something you need as an end-user – it clearly lacks efficiency compared to the global data deduplication technology delivered by Arcserve.

How do you check? It’s simple: Take a look at the recommended configurations to see what model you’d need (or, how much on-board storage) to protect the amount of backup data (or, source data) you have in your environment, given some retention parameters.

But be careful. Company U will tell you that its 120TB raw storage system can backup 80TB of data. (As a side note, in talking to customers in the field we believe it’s actually closer to 50TB – but let’s go with 80TB.) Conversely, Arcserve recommends a 30TB raw storage system for protecting roughly 90TB of source data. Note the difference here; needing 120TB vs 30TB to backup roughly the same amount of source data. In addition, it takes a 4U rack for Company U, whereas the Arcserve UDP Appliance only requires a 2U rack.

Why does this matter?

Read on to learn more about key differences in appliance features and capabilities.

 

Data deduplication technology

Arcserve’s deduplication technology is global source-based deduplication. This means that the deduplication is shared across all appliances and/or software/server deployments, and allows us to deliver extremely high levels of storage space savings. (Don’t take our word for it. See what our customers had to say).

On the other hand, Company U uses a combination of host backup deduplication and inline deduplication, which means there’s always going to be some post-processing of the data. Further, it’s only central to that one appliance – so if you have five Company U appliances, they can’t share the deduplication store.

Recently, Company U added “inline” deduplication – a departure from the initial post processing. However, it’s only file, VMs, Exchange, and SQL data. This means data that isn’t inline is still post-processed, such as Oracle data and bare metal file system backup data. In this scenario, you still need a landing zone and the backup data store needs a lot of storage – hence the specifications discussed above.

 

Deduplication meets replication

Arcserve UDP delivers replication across appliances or software RPS servers (UDP’s “brains”) and is a key differentiator. Not only can you do can do restores from these instances, but it’s also great for scalability.

In contrast, Company U doesn’t scale well for the enterprise – each appliance has its own engine, and you have to manage them individually (you can connect from one and see all of them, but there is no global deduplication).

Further, Company U can only do many to one, or one to one – meaning that one appliance can only go to one target of replication. In the words of one customer, “If you have over five appliances, it’s unusable.” There have been many reports of replications issues, where their customers claim “It stops. It’s not working – the replication is cued up and not keeping up.” Alternatively, Arcserve allows you to do many to one, one to many, or pretty much any permutation that makes sense for your environment.

 

Hypervisors

Bottom line: Company U doesn’t offer cross-hypervisor capabilities. To be fair, they can do physical to virtual for Windows machines. However, to do so, they have to put an agent on the Windows machine and back that up. You can put that image in VMware or HyperV, and on the physical appliance, you can run Windows physical backups on their Linux appliance – Windows Instant Recovery. But you would still need an agent on the virtual machines.

In comparison, Arcserve UDP software and purpose-built-backup appliances support cross-hypervisor recoveries or migrations, and agentless backup without limitations. Just what you would expect from a three-time Best of VMworld award winner.

 

User interface

Company U debuted a new (much nicer) interface it its 9.0 version. I seem to remember older versions still mentioning OS/2 Warp as OS options, so it was time for a face lift. Nicely done. Except that not everything can be done through it, and you still have to go back to the old interface (that’s what we’ve heard anyway). Oh well.

 

Cloud data protection

Company U can go to cloud, but only directly. While this sounds interesting, you can’t do appliance disk to appliance disk to cloud – or multi-hop, if you will. This is a huge operational limitation, and given the poor deduplication ratios, you likely need to watch you bandwidth closely.

 

Tape backup

Check out Arcserve’s impressive support for advanced tape capabilities. Company U offers no support for multiple tape drives, just one drive at a time, and 99% of the vendors are not on the compatibility matrix (I may be exaggerating, but it’s very limited).

 

When it comes to a purpose-built backup appliance, money talks

Using publicly available list prices, it’s easy to plot a comparison of the cost of protecting 1TB of source data by vendor, based on the publicly recommended specifications. In other words, how much will it cost you to backup 1TB of data with Company U vs. Arcserve. Below are the results with three-year maintenance included (apples-to-apples comparison).

Arcserve also offers a series of purpose-built backup appliance models that come with virtual standby capabilities and therefore require additional hardware resources to power virtual machines. To be complete, here’s what the picture looks like if we compare these models:

Need we say more?