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EMC launches DD VE, virtual edition of Data Domain

EMC unveils the virtual edition of its Data Domain disk library, DD VE, allowing the Data Domain operating system to run inside a VMware hypervisor and back up to any hardware.

EMC today released a software-only version of its Data Domain disk backup product to handle data deduplication and replication to industry-standard hardware.

Data Domain is EMC's market-leading disk backup library platform. Data Domain Virtual Edition (DD VE) decouples the software from the Data Domain hardware. DD VE is a virtual appliance that installs inside a VMware hypervisor and uses the Data Domain operating system to reduce data capacity during backups. Customers supply the target hardware and still need backup software, just as they do with physical Data Domain appliances.

A DD VE license includes Data Domain's inline deduplication, replication, encryption and DD Boost for faster backups.

DD VE's use cases, product details

EMC is pitching DD VE mainly for remote offices, although it can also be used by cloud providers and to protect data on hyper-converged systems.

DD VE protects from 1 TB to 16 TB of data, so it can conceivably replace the smallest Data Domain physical library in an organization, but not the larger libraries, which scale to hundreds of terabytes. Customers can scale DD VE in 1 TB increments.

At $1,675 per terabyte, the raw cost of the software version is no less than the physical appliances. For instance, a 4 TB DD VE costs $6,700, compared with the list price of $6,806 for 4 TB of capacity on a DD2200. For 16 TB of DD VE, the cost is $26,000, compared with the $23,027 list price for the maximum of 17.2 TB on a DD2200. The DD VE pricing doesn't include hardware.

DD VE allows customers to install and scale Data Domain software in use cases where it was not previously available or convenient.

But DD VE allows customers to install and scale Data Domain software in use cases where it was not previously available or convenient. It could save customers money when backing up small amounts of data in many sites, instead of installing a Data Domain physical library in each one. A DD VE license can be spread among sites or hardware appliances.

"Being software-defined makes the world much more accessible for us," said Caitlin Gordon, EMC's director of product marketing for data protection. "Software-defined storage can lead to a lot of exciting things, like the ability to deploy in a cloud. Software-defined means you can deploy it anywhere."

EMC is offering electronic licensing for DD VE. Customers can buy and license the amount of capacity they want by downloading OVS files. Starting April 22, EMC will offer a 0.5 TB try-and-buy trial for nonproduction use. The free trial version has only community support.

The software will do an assessment of the target hardware when it installs to make sure it is compatible. EMC will also publish a hardware compatibility list. EMC recommended customers use DD VE with a RAID 6 scheme.

There is no support for deduplication across devices in the original release.

Gordon said EMC will expand capacity for DD VE "relatively quickly," as well as add features.

DD VE opens 'new markets' for EMC

The DD VE release is no surprise. EMC executive Guy Churchward spoke of EMC running it internally in an interview nearly two years ago, and EMC Information Infrastructure CEO Dave Goulden said in January the product would be generally available soon. Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Quantum already have virtual backup appliances.

Gordon said EMC has been running DD VE in the lab for so long that the initial release is actually DD VE 2.0. DD VE has also had a long customer technical evaluation program.

"For EMC to deliver a virtual appliance wasn't overly challenging, but it does open new markets for them," said Jason Buffington, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass. "This unblocks some of the more edge or fringe scenarios for people who may have wanted a Data Domain box, but wanted a different form factor."

Buffington said hyper-converged customers and managed service providers (MSPs) are good DD VE candidates, along with remote offices.

"If you put all your eggs in a hyper-converged basket, do you really want another basket -- a physical Data Domain -- next to it?" he said. "If you already believe in virtual environments, why not put DD VE in?"

Buffington said the attraction for MSPs is they don't have to try and sell customers on a multi-tenant setup. They can give each customer a dedicated DD VE for their data.

A successful test case for DD VE

Ben Leggo, general manager of cloud services for Australian managed services provider Tecala, said he has tested DD VE for four months with a variety of hardware and backup software. He said the virtual version worked as well as the software in his physical Data Domain boxes, and he intends to put it in production for several data protection services.

"Our principal use case will be for branch office backup," Leggo said. "It's quite expensive to deploy hardware [at branch offices] for the amount of data you want to back up. If a customer's already virtualized, we can deploy this quite cost-effectively and replicate out to physical Data Domain devices."

Tecala has DD4500 libraries in its data center and DD2200s at customer sites. Leggo said when EMC supports 70 TB with DD VE, he will consider replacing physical Data Domains in the data center. He said he is also looking for EMC to add public cloud support to DD VE so Tecala can offer services that back up data to Microsoft Azure.

Gartner distinguished analyst Dave Russell said DD VE can be a quick way to configure disk backup for small implementations, but customers would probably not want to scale it too high on their own hardware.

"This is good for rapid deployment and rapid redeployment of resources," he said. "Today's project might be 10 remote offices, but two quarters from now, it might be something different and you can reconfigure DD VE on the fly. But software-defined puts some of the onus on the IT shop to be a product integrator themselves. The bigger the platform capacity, the more onus on the customer to deploy it on the right kind of hardware."

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