6 Standout Storage Appliances

Posted on April 20, 2012 By Drew Robb

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There are a whole lot of good appliances out there spanning the gamut when it comes to storage. Here are some highlights.

1. Arkeia

Arkeia delivers all-in-one backup appliances -- both as hardware and as virtual appliances. While it provides options similar to EMC Avamar, it also offers them at an attractive price point. The Arkeia vmOneStep Virtual Appliance, for example, embeds Arkeia's Backup Server and VMware's Virtual Disk Development Kit (VDDK) libraries. This appliance provides permits agentless backups of vSphere hypervisors (ESX and ESXi).

Arkeia also packs in deduplication to its appliances. The starting price for a hardware appliance is $3,500 while its virtual counterparts price at $2,000 and up. Some of the hardware models can extend to 20TB of internal disk storage, and an SSD can be included.

"Installing the leading VM backup solutions requires an administrator to clone an operating system template, look up the recommended configuration for memory and vCPUs, join the server to the domain, and then install the backup application," said Howard Marks, founder and chief scientist at Deep Storage. "Once all that's done, they have another server to patch and maintain. With vmOneStep, it's just the one step of deploying the virtual appliance."

2. TwinStrata

TwinStrata's CloudArray can be combined with cloud storage such as Amazon S3 Cloud Storage to enable backup and recovery. CloudArray iSCSI storage gateways are provided as virtual or physical appliances. They take a few minutes to configure and can integrate public cloud, private cloud and local or remote storage devices into "Cloud SANs." CloudArray software appliances are available for free download.

3. CTERA Networks

Mike Karp, an analyst with PtakNoel & Associates is impressed with Ctera's storage appliances. These cloud-based appliances are available through many ASPs. They write backup to a remote site in the cloud, but they also keep a copy of the most recent backups right at the user site.

"Users get the best of both worlds -– inexpensive, cloud-based backup coupled with near-at-hand local recovery," said Karp. "The user interface is simple enough for even the most unsophisticated business owner."

He said he believes that more sophisticated mid-tier and larger companies with multiple remote offices will also like the Ctera appliance, as the data manager back at the corporate office can control the backup and recovery regimens for all those remote sites that he or she will now never have to physically visit.

4. Iomega

Other analysts have other favorites, however. Greg Schulz of StorageIO Group prefers the Iomega IX4 because it is easy to acquire, easy to setup and install, and easy to manage on an ongoing basis.

"My definition of ease of use is that I can go months without actually logging on and to do any management functions, which is usually setting up a new share or user or something like that," said Schulz. "I also have liked the IX4 because it gives me unified storage access with iSCSI for block, NFS and CIFS NAS as well as HTTP and Torrent object serving while also being media server friendly, not to mention also being a general file server as well as backup staging device."

The Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d Network Storage Cloud Edition offers content sharing with security. It is intended for small and remote offices, workgroups or home networks. It provides file sharing, iSCSI block access, dual GbE connections and multiple RAID configurations.

5. StorSimple

Schulz gives an honorable mention to StorSimple, which he said has some interesting capabilities. StorSimple 5000 and 7000 hybrid cloud appliances include an SSD top tier. The company augments this by deduplicating data in the background once it is written to SSD. That reduces the amount of data that must be sent across the WAN to the associated cloud services provider, such as Amazon, EMC Atmos, AT&T, Zetta or Microsoft.

"We duplicate within a separate layer within the SSD so it doesn't interfere with any ongoing writes," said Ian Howells, chief marketing officer of StorSimple. "90 percent of active data can be read from within an SSD."

6. Lortu

Lortu Data Appliances (LDA) can store up to 1.2 TB of full daily backups. Due to built-in dedupe, that adds up to hundreds of daily or weekly backups. They can also be used for replication. They are compatible with any software that can backup to disk and be managed through a Web console from any PC. Data is encrypted with an AES.

The LDA 2 is aimed at those wanting to store several hundred GB to few TB per day. This model can store around 250 full backups with up to 1200 GB of data each day and replicate all this data remotely through a 2Mb connection. It harnesses RAID6.

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles based freelancer specializing in all aspects of technology, engineering and renewable energy. Born and raised in Scotland, he received a degree in Geology/Geography from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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