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Hyper-converged backup takes center stage at SimpliVity show

Customers praise the data protection capabilities of SimpliVity's OmniCube and OmniStack hyper-converged systems that allow them to ditch third-party backup tools.

BOSTON -- You don't hear data protection mentioned much as a benefit of hyper-convergence, yet that was a popular...

topic Tuesday during a user panel at SimpliVity Connect.

Customers at the SimpliVity conference frequently cited hyper-converged backup as a reason for switching over from traditional infrastructure. Hyper-convergence is known for combining servers, storage and hypervisors into one box, but SimpliVity customers said they also integrated backups, restores and disaster recovery (DR) with their OmniCube appliances.

Woody Muth, CIO at Worth & Company Inc., based in Pipersville, Pa., runs the company's entire operations on SympliVity's hyper-converged storage systems, which were purchased two years ago. Within two months of the implementation, the company's servers were hit with a virus that was locking down files when directories were accessed.

"My admin called me on a Friday and told me something strange was going on," Muth said. "Twenty virtual machines were down. But within 10 minutes, we had a system restored. If that would have happened in the old world, I would have been up all weekend long."

Muth was part of a customer panel at SimpliVity Connect, along with Ray DeCrescente, CTO of Capital Regional Orthopedics, based in Albany, N.Y.; and Nathan Larsen, CIO of Sinclair Oil Corp., based in Salt Lake City. All three said hyper-converged backup was a major benefit of using OmniCubes.

Here's how hyper-converged backup works with SimpliVity: OmniCube makes a copy of the metadata from virtual machines (VMs) in its data management layer, where it tracks data blocks, and performs deduplication and compression. VMs can be restored by clicking on the copies. The backup metadata can be replicated in a deduped state to another OmniCube, another site or a public cloud. For DR, the system also replicates other data blocks required to rebuild the VM if there is a disaster. Administrators set up a backup policy for a VM by defining how often it should be copied, where the copies will be kept and how long they will be kept.

"A lot of our data centers are in places where we can't get reliable reception," said Larsen, who replaced NetApp storage with OmniCubes. "It was cumbersome to manage. Now, our daily backups are painless, and we don't have that overhead anymore. One of the big benefits for us is the reliable restores. It solved the backup and replication problems."

DeCrescente said he had EMC storage when he purchased SimpliVity's hyper-converged systems to support the company's VMware VMs. He said the cost of data protection swayed him to move to SimpliVity after he found hyper-converged backup costs a lot less than traditional backup.

"To be honest, I had a very good relationship with EMC," DeCrescente said. "But the cost to go into Data Domain [EMC's disk backup] was going to be over the top.

"We replaced the production and disaster recovery sites. We were also looking for a backup solution. I was looking at a few different vendors. It became clear that for cost versus value, SimpliVity was the best solution. It made life a lot easier for us. Our backup and restores are very efficient."

Muth said he was close to signing off on a purchase of a Nutanix hyper-converged system, but decided to go with SimpliVity largely because of the integrated backup that also replaced his Barracuda backup. He had budgeted $300,000 to purchase a hyper-converged system. He initially bought a two-plus-one configuration, and now has three nodes in his Philadelphia headquarters and three more nodes in the Delaware office, with full disaster recovery. He said Worth did not have DR before moving to SimpliVity.

Muth said SimpliVity is Worth's main server and storage platform, running Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint and Oracle E-Business Suite. Worth has 65 virtual machines on OmniCubes. Like DeCrescente, Muth found that hyper-converged backup alleviated the need to purchase an additional data protection product.

"With Nutanix, I would have had to get a third-party backup, and I would have had to buy Veeam [backup software]," he said. "I came in $60,000 under what I budgeted for, because I was able to shave off buying Veeam and it was cheaper than Nutanix. And my Oracle administrators wanted to buy RMAN, so we had to convince them, too. They were very hesitant to go this way. Even the network administrator was nervous. But we fully tested it on Oracle and we were able to get it back online. I would say it was a five-minute restore time."

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