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Vast Data, Commvault partner for faster backup, recovery

Vast Data is using its high-performance flash as a backup target for Commvault's software, bringing its efforts to compete with HDDs to the purpose-built backup appliance market.

Vast Data, a primary data storage and archive vendor, is partnering with Commvault to provide data backup technology to customers.

Vast Data unveiled Wednesday that its all-flash Universal Storage is being combined with Commvault's Complete Data protection platform to provide disaster recovery and ransomware protection, with higher performance at a similar cost to HDD-based systems.

Backup vendors are trying to provide ways the enterprise can be more responsive to ransomware mitigation and recovery, according to Jeff Denworth, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Vast Data.

Vast can now be a back-end target for Commvault's Complete Data protection platform, enabling customers to backup and recover their infrastructure using a faster flash-based system at a price that's in line with an HDD-based product, he said.

"With ransomware everywhere, recovery time is the No. 1 determinant for how people are buying infrastructure," Denworth said.

But Vast has been looking to use its flash-based storage to displace HDDs, and is now looking to go after HDD-based purpose-built backup appliances (PBBA).

Restore performance critical to mitigate ransomware

PBBAs are sold based on their backup -- not recovery -- performance, according to George Axberg, vice president of the data protection division at Vast Data. However, the restore performance of PBBAs usually operates at 20% to 25% of their backup performance. Vast's restore performance, however, is eight times faster than its backup performance, according to Vast.

Denworth also noted that most PBBAs are dual-controller, but a Vast system can scale up to 10,000 controllers. Translating restore performance into numbers, Vast can restore up to 100 TB per petabyte (PB) per hour, 200 TB per 2 PB per hour and 1 PB per 10 PB per hour.

Commvault uses Vast Data for backup storage and compression.
Commvault uses Vast Data as a backup target, further compressing data for protection.

That kind of recovery speed may be attractive to customers, as faster backup and restore can help when combating ransomware, according to Chris Evans, an analyst at Architecting IT.

He also noted that the restore speeds Vast cited are dependent on the volume of data one is restoring.

"There is a limit to how fast you can restore simply because it depends whether you're putting the data back in its original location," Evans said. "[Other factors include] how fast your network is and how fast the system that receives the data is."

Combining technologies for better cyber resilience

While Vast is taking on data recovery, it is leaving most of the data protection heavy lifting to Commvault, offering a couple of basic features such as its indestructible snapshots, a type of immutable snapshot that can only be deleted by obtaining two separate time-based keys from two different admins.

"[Immutable snapshot] technology is a last line of defense," Evans said. "If you get to the point where everything else could be compromised, if your snapshot is immutable, [attackers are] not going to be able to corrupt that data."

Vast also offers a similarity reduction feature, which compresses and reduces similar blocks of data and can be combined with Commvault's data compression technology. Together, they can provide a 3:1 savings on storage capacity in addition to what Commvault can already offer, for a total data reduction of 15:1 on average.

Evans cautioned, however, that customers should take generous dedupe numbers, such as these, with a grain of salt.

"With a perfect data set, you might get an additional three times deduplication after the backup vendor's savings, but it really does depend on what that data is," he said.

Price to performance

Vast's partnership with Commvault is targeted at HDD-dependent PBBA vendors like Dell EMC. Vast claims its flash-based approach offers a higher performance data backup and recovery option at a lower cost.

The message is consistent with the company's past comparisons, when it has argued that HDD spinning disks use more power, take up more space and need to be refreshed every five years compared to Vast's flash technology. Vast offers a 10-year warranty on its product.

Evans said the product won't be for every company and he believes that only the larger customers will reap the benefit of using Vast with Commvault. If a customer has 50 to 100 TB of data that needs protecting, for example, the cost ratios likely won't work.

"[Vast is] best at 100-plus TB for primary storage. Protection storage probably isn't going to be any different," he said. "It's going to be targeted at those customers that have a reasonably large footprint."

Evans also noted that Vast targets customers with high capacity and all-flash performance needs.

Denworth believes the market for data backup technology is growing right alongside primary storage growth.

"On an everyday basis, we are finding new customers that have multi-petabyte data protection environments," Denworth said. "Cyber resilience or cyber readiness is causing customers to buy a whole different additional set of backup infrastructure just for fast restores."

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