VMware backup for Quantum products

By Dave Raffo
Tuesday, 21 July, 2009

Quantum has introduced a software module that backs up VMware ESX virtual servers for its DXI data deduplication virtual tape libraries (VTLs). The company has also introduced and a key management appliance for its Scalar LTO-4 tape libraries.

The Quantum esXpress software module is a virtual backup appliance (VBA) that runs inside of Quantum's DXi data deduplication systems, and the Scalar Key Management Appliance is built into Scalar libraries to manage LTO-4's integrated encryption.

Quantum turns to PHD for VMware backup

To handle VMware backups, Quantum is licensing esXpress from startup PHD Virtual and incorporating it into its DXi devices as a virtual backup appliance.

"We've decided to adopt and help develop it, and integrate it into our solutions," Quantum product manager for enterprise disk Mike Sparkes said of the PHD application. Sparkes said internal Quantum surveys show 80% of DXi customers are using server virtualisation, mostly with VMware. He said that can cause backup headaches in large environments. "All backup jobs for virtualized servers start to fight for resources, and it can become a bit of a nightmare to manage," he said.

esXpress backs up VMware servers without requiring VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), proxy servers or virtual machine agents. It creates VBAs that operate at the host level outside the ESX console and handle block-level backups across all virtual disks. The VBA uses VMware to create snapshots of the data. Sparkes said this removes the need for physical servers and extra storage to move the backup data to. It also alleviates the need for a separate backup software application to handle virtual backups.

One esXpress Professional license is included with every DXi, with additional licenses available for $950. Each license supports up to four VBAs. esXpress Enterprise licenses cost $1,850 each and supports 16 VBAs per ESX server.

Taneja Group analyst Jeff Boles said Quantum's esXpress breaks out VMware backups from traditional backups of physical servers, and uses DXi to provide deduplication and replication.

"Quantum's tied this right into the dedupe backup infrastructure," he said. "You can deploy a virtual backup appliance anywhere, and scale it up by adding more virtual backup appliances to your problem. This will make next generation backup better integrated with virtual infrastructures."

StorageIO Group analyst Greg Schulz added that Quantum "is giving customers the option of backing up without the limitations of VCB. It's a good way for Quantum to start stepping out of the shadows of [deduplication OEM partner] EMC and showing more value."

Quantum seeks to drive tape encryption adoption

The Scalar Key Manager Appliance replaces the Quantum Enterprise Key Management (QEKM) device. Unlike QEKM, the Scalar Key Manager software is integrated with the Scalar LTO-4 libraries. Customers can set encryption policies through the tape library and the key manager will generate, manage and synchronize keys to keep track of encrypted tapes. The key manager also works across remote sites.

Quantum product marketing manager for tape automation Todd Farley admitted QEKM had little success outside of a handful of verticals such as healthcare and insurance. Farley said Scaler Key Manager is designed to simplify key management for midmarket organisations, in hopes of getting more customers to turn on LTO-4's encryption.

"We believe the tape drive itself provides one of best spots to do encryption, and now it's a case of how do they keep track of that," Farley said.

Still, Quantum can't solve the biggest problem with key management -- lack of an industry-wide standard -- on its own. Quantum is part of the Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) industry initiative to develop a standard, but that process will take time. And until there is a standard, customers will have to manage keys separately for various encryption devices -- it can be done in tape, disk, switches, etc.

"We have things on our roadmap for when standards are in place," Farley said. "If a customer has our technology, we want to make it as easy as possible to manage. This is built with the understanding that KMIP will come to fruition, and we'll be able to open up the software once there's a better grip on those standards."

"Anything Quantum can do to make the key management process easier is a good thing," Schulz said. "But we'll still be talking about developing standards in a year or two. Standards take time."

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