Actifio introduces data management virtualization

Posted on August 17, 2010

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By Dave Simpson

– Actifio came out of stealth mode today and introduced a set of products under the umbrella term "data management virtualization" (DMV): Actifio DP (data protection), Actifio DR (disaster recovery) and Actifio BC (business continuity).

According to Actifio president and CEO Ash Ashutosh, the company's goal is to simplify the overall data management process with a unified suite of software. "The paradigm we're applying to data management is analogous to what virtualization did to servers," says Ashutosh.
Compared to buying, deploying and maintaining separate silos of data protection point products from multiple vendors, the company claims to be able to reduce data management costs by as much as 90%. However, list pricing starts at $200,000 for a configuration with Actifio DP that can manage 5TB of data. The software is packaged in x86 appliances that can scale to eight servers per cluster

Ashutosh says that the trends leading up to the DMV concept were server virtualization (which created storage bottlenecks), backup to disk, and the commoditization of storage. Actifio's appliances and software virtualize the underlying storage technology and can be used with any vendor's storage devices. In effect, data management is de-coupled from the underlying storage.

At the heart of Actifio's technology is a VirtualData Pipeline, which integrates capacity optimization, data deduplication, compression, encryption and network optimization, and virtualizes the traditional copy-store-move-restore operations. The company claims zero-backup windows, with the VDP enabling creation of virtual copies of data with zero-footprint of storage.

The Actifio software enables management of business requirements via a service catalog that defines the service level agreement (SLA) for each application. "We define the data lifecycle through SLAs," says Ashutosh.

Although Actifio's DMV suite offers an alternative to existing data protection software, the tools can be used in conjunction with existing software. That's the case at Airvana, which has been using Actifio DP for about five months.

"The key benefit [of Actifio's software] is that it allows me to regain control over my storage environment," says Brian Dickson, Airvana's director of IT. "It covers a lot of phases, including backup, deduplication, compression, disaster recovery and other functions that set you up for cloud-based computing models."

Prior to installing Actifio's software, Airvana was using Symantec's Netbackup for backup to tapes, and FalconStor software for replication of data to a DR site at a hosting center. Airvana is still using the Symantec and FalconStor software, but is planning a transition to Actifio DP and an upgrade to Actifio DR for disaster recovery.

Airvana currently uses Actifio DP primarily in a Microsoft SharePoint environment that houses the company's intellectual property, but Airvana also uses Exchange, ClearCase and Oracle financial systems in an environment with about 60 Windows 200 Linux and six Solaris servers. The configuration includes more than 40TB of data on Fibre Channel and iSCSI SANs.

The benefits of using Actifio DP, according to Dickson, included:

--More than 70% reduction in TCO for data protection
--70% reduction in capacity required for local data protection
--50% reduction in storage hardware costs by going with a less expensive system for backup data
--65% reduction in tape capacity

Last month, Actifio announced $8 million in Series A financing led by Greylock Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. Actifio currently has about 50 employees, with executives from vendors such as HP, EMC, Data Domain and Quantum.

Related articles:
Keep an eye on this startup (July 21 blog post on Actifio)
A backup vendor you haven't heard of (July 28 blog  post on Cofio Software)


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