The Purpose-Built Backup Appliance Comes of Age

Not everybody chooses the cloud as the first option for backing up data. Despite the advantages of practically limitless storage area, pay-as-you-go pricing and resilience, a weak point for the cloud is the network speed for uploading or downloading all those gigabytes (terabytes, petabytes…). The alternative for organisations is to put their own solution in place, something that will let them blast large amounts of data backwards and forwards at high speed. In the old days of IT, an IT team would have been tasked with assembling the requisite components and tweaking them to make them work properly together. But now IT vendors have spotted the need and produced the PBBA, a solution whose popularity is growing steadily.

The purpose built backup appliance (PBBA) may sound like a domestic labour-saving device from the 1950s, but is in fact stuffed full of the latest data backup and protection technology. Data deduplication, compression, encryption and replication are all on the menu to help enterprises meet increasingly demanding schedules for backup and recovery. So is support for NAS (Network Attached Storage), NFS (Network File System), and VTL (Virtual Tape Library). The PPBA may be either a ‘target system’ for use with third party backup applications, or an integrated system that is tightly coupled with backup and data transport functionality.

The big player is EMC with over 60 percent of all the revenues generated. Symantec, IBM and HP are also vying for their share. In a market currently worth around $713 million per quarter (Q3 2013), these vendors are offering a range of PBBA products for different sizes of end-user organisations. IBM for example runs the gamut of solutions from the tape-based PPBA for mainframes to disk-based for the SMB sector. Pricing and performance vary, as you might expect, according to data volumes, speeds and features. One example on the net describes a 10 terabyte per hour transfer rate in a PBBA costing $200,000 – something to put into your next round of budgeting, perhaps?