UCLA Faces Forklift Upgrade, Looks Beyond Data Domain, Installs ExaGrid

UCLA logo


The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public research university with approximately 28,000 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students. The University has the largest enrollment in the State of California and is the most popular university in the U.S. by number of applicants.

UCLA had a five-year-old EMC Data Domain unit that had reached capacity. Initially, the University looked at replacing the EMC Data Domain unit with a newer system and also considered FalconStor, ExaGrid, and a few other solutions. In the end, the University chose the ExaGrid system based on price and performance.

“We had the EMC Data Domain system for several years and kept adding data to it.  When our group merged with another IT group here at UCLA, we decided to combine our backups, and we realized that we needed another solution because the EMC Data Domain unit couldn’t scale in terms of capacity or performance,” said Jeff Barnes, Senior Development Engineer at UCLA. “We simply couldn’t justify the cost of a new Data Domain unit. In fact, the cost of the two-site ExaGrid unit was approximately what we would have paid for three years of maintenance on the EMC Data Domain system,” Barnes said.

UCLA is currently getting data deduplication ratios as high as 17:1, which helps to maximize the amount of data the University can store on the system. The technology also helps to make transmission between sites more efficient.

“The ExaGrid system works well with our existing backup applications, and it was easy to install. When we initially got the systems, ExaGrid assigned a support engineer. He helped with the setup and brought us up to speed on everything we need to know to operate the system efficiently. We were very happy with the installation experience,” said Barnes. “Our engineer has been very good and really knows what he’s doing.”

To read the entire case study, click here.

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ExaGrid Disk-based Backup with Data Deduplication Scores High Marks with Lourdes College

Lourdes College logo

Lourdes College has nearly 3,000 students and faculty on its network. The College performs full backups each weekend and incremental backups throughout the rest of the week. However, since implementing Panopto, a software solution that allows faculty to record and post all lectures, the College’s data was growing rapidly and its existing tape library was not a viable option for backups any longer.

“I literally just didn’t have a window big enough any longer to be moving all of our data to tape,” said John Alderman, Network Analyst at Lourdes College. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing incremental or differentials with tape. We learned about ExaGrid and really liked its post process approach to data deduplication.

Lourdes College chose the two-site ExaGrid system and installed one in its main datacenter and a second ExaGrid off-site for disaster recovery purposes. The ExaGrid system works with the College’s newly implemented backup application, Symantec Backup Exec™.

Since installing the ExaGrid system, the Lourdes College’s backups have been reduced by nearly 75%. “Prior to implementing the ExaGrid our nightly backups were taking about 15 hours. They are now completed in just over 2 hours. We’ve also been very happy with ExaGrid’s data deduplication capabilities. It’s extremely effective at reducing our data and it enables us to maximize the amount of data we keep on the system,” said Alderman.

To read the full case study, please click here.

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How Backup Disk Architecture Impacts the Backup Window

By Dana Prestigiacomo, SVP Marketing, ExaGrid

As noted in the recent Storage Switzerland article by Colm Keegan growing backup windows are the biggest challenge faced by IT professionals and the architecture you
chose matters.

The runaway growth of data in organizations creates cost and complexity in primary storage, production applications, and has a profound impact on backup and recovery operations.

The common mistake made is to look at backup and recovery as only a storage problem. Instead IT organizations need to consider the following:

  • Data movement – how to move significant amounts of data within a pre-defined backup window
  • Data processing – how data needs to be processed to be stored in deduplicated form and recovered quickly
  • Data storage – how to store more backup data in far less disk space with deduplication

With the wrong disk-backup architecture, as your data continues to grow, you will punish your operations with longer backup windows, costly forklift upgrades, and technology obsolescence.

There are two architectural choices when choosing a disk based backup solution.

The scale-up architecture has a single front-end controller that houses all network ports, processor, and memory. As data grows only storage is added. This presents backup performance and data movement problems.

The alternative scale-out architecture handles data growth very differently. Full server appliances with processor, memory, network bandwidth and disk are added into a scalable GRID system. As the data grows, so do all four resources resulting in the shortest backup window, a backup window that doesn’t grow as your data grows and the fastest restores, tape copies and recoveries from a disaster.

The architecture you choose can make all the difference if you want to solve your backup challenges forever.

To learn more about how you can design a backup infrastructure to meet the needs of your virtualized server environment today and well into the future, join us February 11th for a webinar with George Crump, Founder and lead analyst from Storage Switzerland and Kevin Russell, VP of systems engineering from ExaGrid.

All pre-registrants will receive an advance copy of Storage Switzerland’s latest whitepaper, “Disk Backup Is About More Than Deduplication.”

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How Data Deduplication Is Implemented Makes A Difference

By Bill Andrews, ExaGrid CEO

Many customers believe that to solve backup challenges they simply need to replace tape with disk. And to keep disk storage to a minimum, they simply turn on data deduplication.

Disk does solve many of the backup problems tape causes. And data deduplication does reduce the amount of disk required, because data deduplication only stores the unique blocks or bytes from backup to backup. These are table stakes for a disk-based backup appliance; they must include disk and data deduplication.

However, how data deduplication is implemented matters. The wrong implementation can mean:

  • Slower backups than writing directly to disk
  • A backup window that grows and grows as data grows
  • Slow restores
  • Slow offsite tape copies
  • Slow VM instant recoveries
  • Costly forklift upgrades along the way

Bottom line: Not all implementations of data deduplication for backup are created equal.

For example, if you deduplicate inline (as the backups are occurring), it adds in a very compute-intensive process during the backups that slows the backups down. Furthermore, if you deduplicate inline, all the data is deduplicated and each time you request a restore, offsite tape copy, or VM instant recovery, you have to wait for all the data to be put back together or re-hydrated. These inline approaches tend to be scale-up architectures, which means that the all of the backups pass through a head end controller to be deduplicated. As the data grows, only disk capacity is added resulting in an ever-increasing amount of data passing through and being deduplicated inline by the head end controller. As data grows, no additional processor, memory, or bandwidth is added – just disk capacity. As the data grows, the backup window becomes longer and longer until it is outside of the allotted backup window time. The only way out is to replace the front-end controller with a bigger, faster, and more expensive controller. This is called a “forklift upgrade” and is a very painful and expensive approach to add disk with data deduplication to the backup process.

The alternative is to back up the data to a disk landing zone and then deduplicate the data after the backups are complete. This not only provides for faster backups, but since the most recent backups are in their complete and un-deduplicated form, they are instantly ready for fast restores, fast offsite tape copies, and instant VM recovery in seconds to single-digit minutes. In addition, if the system is a scale-out architecture, as data grows, not only is disk capacity added, but , processor, memory, and bandwidth are also increased. As data grows, appliances with all four resources (processor, memory, bandwidth, and disk) are added into a GRID system. This approach ensures that as the data grows, so do all resources needed to process, deduplicate, and move the data. The backup window stays fixed in length and eliminates the need for an expensive forklift upgrade. This approach provides for the fastest backups, the fastest restores, the fastest offsite tape copies, the fastest VM instant recoveries, and a fixed backup window length as data grows. It also means no forklift upgrades. On top of that, these systems cost the same as—and often less than— inline scale-up approaches.

ExaGrid offers the best of all worlds, plus a landing zone and scale-out architecture. Why pay more for slower backups, an ever-expanding backup window and slow restores, copies, and recoveries when you can pay the same or less for faster backups, a fixed-length backup window and faster restores, tape copies, and recoveries?

To learn more about how you can design a backup infrastructure to meet the needs of your virtualized server environment today and well into the future, join us February 11th for a webinar with George Crump, Founder and lead analyst from Storage Switzerland and Kevin Russell, VP of systems engineering from ExaGrid.

All pre-registrants will receive an advance copy of Storage Switzerland’s latest whitepaper, “Disk Backup Is About More Than Deduplication.”

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ExaGrid Wins ‘Product of the Year’ at Techworld Awards 2013

ExaGrid Systems, Inc’s EX13000E has been named ‘Storage/Big Data Product of the Year’ at the annual awards in London. This win extends the company’s successful streak for being ranked as best-in-class for disk-based backup with deduplication.

The EX13000E was selected for its unique GRID architecture which is optimized for high performance, scalable disk backup with deduplication. It delivers a consistent backup window that doesn’t grow as data grows; the shortest possible backup window; fast restores, tape copies and fast recovery from a disaster. As a result it allows you to grow as your data grows and eliminates “forklift” upgrades.

Now in its tenth year, the Techworld Awards have firmly established themselves as the major infrastructure and networking awards event in the IT calendar. Recognizing both products and users, the Techworld Awards highlight innovation on all sides of the IT industry. “ExaGrid beat off stiff competition to win the Techworld Storage and Big Data product of the year award because of its powerful combination of scalability, security and speed of operation,”said Mike Simons, editor of Techworld. “The judges were very impressed.”

The Techworld Award win has proven yet again that ExaGrid has the best-performing backup and restore solution on the market and is revolutionizing how organizations backup and protect their data. This market leadership is perhaps best summed up by Jeremy Wendt, DCIG lead analyst, who said: ‘The ExaGrid EX Series essentially defines what modern mid-range target-based deduplicating backup appliances should deliver.”

“We are delighted to be acknowledged by the industry as the ‘Storage/Big Data Product of the Year’ and would like to thank the judges who recognized the power and performance of ExaGrid’s unique solutions”, said Andy Palmer, VP International at ExaGrid. “Only ExaGrid’s scale-out architecture with unique landing zone technology solves the backup challenge forever. If anyone is thinking about moving to disk backup with deduplication, they should always include ExaGrid in their backup appliance review.”

ExaGrid was also a finalist in the Backup and Recovery / Archive Product of the Year category in this year’s Storage, Virtualisation, Cloud (SVC) Awards.

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Distributor Doubles Data And Shrinks Backup Window By 65% With ExaGrid

Georgia Crown Distributing Company* had been backing up its physical servers to disk and then to tape, but when the firm decided to virtualize, its data increased rapidly and backup times grew to nearly 19 hours a day.

“Once we started going down the virtual path, our data grew quickly and we had a hard time keeping up with it. We started with five virtual servers and before we knew it, we had 25 with our data spiraling out of control,” said David Brown, systems analyst for Georgia Crown. Initially, the firm’s IT staff decided to purchase additional disk along with software designed to reduce redundant data; however, the solution didn’t meet expectations. After doing some research, Georgia Crown decided to install the ExaGrid system along with Dell vRanger. “We’ve been very happy with the ExaGrid vRanger combination. The two products work hand-in-hand and are tightly integrated,” said Brown. “We were also impressed with its approach to data deduplication. With the ExaGrid, the data is first backed up to a landing zone and then deduplicated, so backup jobs fly.”

Brown said that Georgia Crown’s backup times have been reduced from 19 hours to 6.5 hours, despite the fact that the firm’s data has doubled since the system was installed. “Our backup speeds are extremely impressive, especially in light of the fact that our data continues to increase,” he said. “We’re saving time in other ways, too. For example, we can restore data with the touch of a button instead of having to deal with tape. Our data is right on the system and available to us at any time. We’ve gotten to the point where we don’t even think about backups or restores.”

“Our backup data is constantly growing. ExaGrid’s GRID architecture gives us an extra level of comfort because we’re confident that we’ll be able to scale the system up to meet increased backup demands,” said Brown. “We’ve already added onto the system and found the process incredibly easy and straightforward. I simply plugged in the additional unit, called into ExaGrid support, gave our engineer the IP addresses to complete the configuration, and it was up and running.”

* Georgia Crown Distributing Company is a full service beverage distributor that sells imported and domestic spirits, wines, beers, and bottled water with wholesale operations in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.


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Solving Backup the Right Way — Forever

By Bill Andrews, ExaGrid CEO

Seven years ago, we realized that solving the backup problem couldn’t be done in a vacuum any longer, at least not effectively. So, we turned to our customers with one very basic question: What do you need?

They answered — loud and clear. The shortest backup window. Fixed backup windows regardless of data growth. Faster restores. No obsolescence. No forklift upgrades.  Lowest cost solution up front and over time.  We promised these customers we’d build them a true backup solution to address their needs and quell worries. Remarkably, the feedback we received from those customers has been at the core of everything we’ve done since, and will continue to guide us moving forward.

ExaGrid has the only scale-out architecture that sets us apart from the competition.

Our latest appliance, the EX21000E continues to do the inconceivable: it keeps the backup window fixed in time forever, and delivers the fastest restores regardless of data growth. No other backup architecture can match this commitment, because only ExaGrid solves the compute problems associated with deduplication.

With 210TB of capacity in a 10-appliance GRID, here are the high points compared to the EX13000E:

  • 80% faster speeds
  • 62% more capacity
  • 10% more throughput per terabyte
  • All at a lower price point

However, the product isn’t what I’m most excited about.

While we’ve always been committed to our customers, we want others to know about our five commitments for every deployment:

  1. No backup window growth regardless of data growth
  2. The shortest backup window
  3. Fastest restores, tape copies and recovery from a disaster
  4. VM instant recoveries in minutes
  5. Lowest cost solution up front and over time, with no forklift upgrades or obsolescence and a price guarantee

As data grows, so will we — you can count on it. This is why we have the highest customer retention rates in the industry. We’re here to make an organization’s most valuable information available when it needs it the most. It’s our job to help you solve the backup window forever. And we’re unconditionally dedicated to it.

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ExaGrid Earns Two Top Honors, Analysts Recognize Scale-Out Advantages and Value

By Bill Andrews, ExaGrid CEO

This month, ExaGrid has been recognized as the industry’s leading disk backup solution by Info-Tech Research Group and DCIG, both independent firms that took on ranking and assessing the market — and we’re pretty proud on all fronts.

We appreciate the recognition (who doesn’t?!), but it’s how we’ve gotten here, and earned it, that excites us most … it’s also what gives us future confidence in the market.

Yes, backup has been around forever. Even still, improving data backup and recovery ranks second only to security on the to-do list for IT professionals, according to a recent survey by ESG.

While it’s easy to find quick-fix backup options, there are very few products that go beyond the ‘Band-Aid’ approach. The industry is filled with scale-up options that temporarily meet companies’ needs, but ultimately require hugely time consuming and costly forklift upgrades.

We provide an alternative — a scale-out solution that meets the long-term needs of our customers, and is built on four core pillars: reliability, ease of use, scalability, and support.

Here are some of the key findings from both reports:

Info-Tech Key Findings:

  • Only [disk backup] product with exemplary strength in usability, affordability and architecture.
  • Earns a 99 out of possible 100 for value, offering more ‘bang for the buck’, average vendor score is 52.

DCIG Key Findings for $50k and $100k Solutions:

  • ExaGrid ‘Best-in-Class’ solution provides scale-out architecture and delivers significant networking and storage capacities.
  • ExaGrid products offer a unique combination of management and hardware features that scale to hundreds of terabytes of raw capacity.

Get more information on ExaGrid and how our disk backup solution works go here.

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ExaGrid Systems Named ‘Best-in-Class’ Solution for Disk Backup by DCIG for Midrange Organizations


DCIG’s analysts found ExaGrid offers a unique combination of scalability, management and hardware capabilities that differentiates the company from its competition, including:  global deduplication, high raw capacity capabilities, instant recovery and scale-out grid architecture.

“Our findings show that deduplication and scalability are two of the most impactful features organizations should look to for improved backup — ExaGrid’s solutions stand well above the competition on both fronts,” said Jerome Wendt, President and Lead Analyst of DCIG.

DCIG’s buyer’s guides come on the heels of a ‘Champion Vendor’ recognition, in which ExaGrid earned 99 points out of a possible 100 on Info-Tech’s Value Index, and was praised for scale-out architecture, the ability to enable simultaneous scaling of both performance and capacity, and elimination of forklift upgrades.

“The onset of new, advanced storage technologies, and the promise of big data, have put the pressure on backup companies to improve their offerings, but many are stuck using antiquated technologies that don’t solve the problems – ExaGrid provides a true solution, with a leading edge approach that really meets the needs of customers,” said Wendt.

For access to DCIG reports and executive summary, visit the ExaGrid analyst reports page.

Posted in Disk Backup with Deduplication, Industry Analyst Perspectives, Industry Trends and Predictions, Scalability | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interactive Marketing Firm Replaces Tape Backup with Advanced Backup Architecture

Precision Dialogue Marketing, had been using tape for their daily backup, but soon realized that trying to replicate their backup data offsite was a challenge. Precision is an analytics-driven database marketing and interactive firm with a primary data center located in Westlake, Ohio, and a disaster recovery site located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Once we put a disaster recovery site online, we needed replication to get the data over there,” said Mike Fox, Director of Network Operations at Precision. Fox wanted something that would reliably get the data offsite without too much administration. “We wanted something that was going to basically just be a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ type of solution where we just configure the backups, configure the replication, and then not worry about it—it’s over to the disaster recovery site every day,” Fox added.

Once they determined what they needed, they wanted to get it at the best price and decided on ExaGrid. “It was just a combination of cost versus what you get. Obviously there are other companies that do the same thing but at a higher cost.”

Precision began seamlessly backing up their data to the ExaGrid in Westlake with Symantec Backup Exec, and then replicating their data to the Pittsburgh site. “With tape previously, that was a pain; now, I get daily alerts, and as long as everything looks good, then I don’t have to do anything,” said Fox. “I also get an email every day telling me that the data replicated over fine, so that’s basically it; I just don’t have to worry about it.”

In addition to having a reliable disaster recovery solution, Fox also found that he could restore data much faster than with tape. “Before, when we were backing up to tape, we had that whole problem of getting the right tapes, and there’s a huge turnaround,” said Fox. “Now, the ExaGrid keeps about two weeks worth of data, so if somebody deletes a file within the last two weeks, I can restore within, literally, a minute or two.” To read the full case study, click here.

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