Dell adds federated management to PowerProtect

Dell is providing federated management for its PowerProtect backup appliances with workload movement to optimize appliance fleet efficiency, and has deduplication analytics on its roadmap.

PowerProtect is a deduplicating purpose-built backup appliance formerly known as Data Domain (DD), and is the market leader in that class of products. It runs DDOS and v7.9, the second OS release of the year, introduces Smart Scale. This enables pooling of multiple DD series appliances, providing up to 48PB of usable capacity, and >3EB of logical capacity, with typical deduplication rates, all configured under a single namespace.

David Tye, a Dell product marketing advisor, said: “You will be able to optimize protection storage with non-disruptive data mobility to guide placement of workloads, perform migrations with automatic client redirection and gain valuable capacity insights and recommendations across the environment to project capacity utilization.”

A backup storage workload runs in a logical DD series array called a Mobile Storage Unit (MSU), which can be non-disruptively moved around a pool of DD series arrays inside a single namespace. This is done by using the PowerProtect DD Management Center, a multi-system management console.

If you add a new appliance or decommission an old one, you can move MSUs around the pool to balance the workload. If a workload (MSU) grows larger and/or needs a longer retention period it can be moved to a physical appliance with more available capacity.

Smart Scale supports the DD9900, DD9400, and DD6900 appliances, and integrates with Dell PowerProtect Data Manager and NetWorker as well as third-party backup software. 

Deduplication

We asked if this federating of DD appliances meant that deduplication was now global across them. Dell senior product consultant Simon Gordon said: “Although Smart Scale is providing a common name space and redirection using mobile storage units, in other respects the appliances are completely independent and… each appliance is its own dedupe location domain.”

He added that the DD series appliance pooling “is not intended as a replacement for larger appliances and as a company we do everything we can to provide appliances with the best physical and logical capacity. Rather, what we have heard is many customers will always end up with multiple appliances, and dealing with refresh cycles, and so a unified namespace and mobility for these times has a lot of value.”

However, there are improvements coming in the deduplication area: “During this year we are introducing new capacity and deduplication analytics which both give better reporting as to unique vs shared capacity, but also reports on overlaps. 

“This combination means, first, customers will have much better knowledge of how much space will be freed from a migration or deletion, but also guide movement in groups. It can often be the case that just moving one storage unit may only free up a small amount of space but moving two or three together may free up a lot of space. Similarly when moving, making sure a group is moved to the same destination, not different destinations, [because] again [it] means after a move the aggregate capacity use is still good.”

This means “we can actually, in real production, support very large system pools without performance or availability challenges. In our view a more tightly coupled cluster with a true single dedupe domain is addressing a different problem space and would have other implications and consequences.”

Gordon added: “We have been doing a lot on the analytics to try to also ensure customers get more guidance earlier on trends and the causes of trends to allow planning. indeed often capacity problems are down to people not deleting backups, enabling encryption, etc. So what we want to do is not just show people trends but highlight changes in trends.”

PowerProtect Virtual Edition

Dell also has PowerProtect DD Virtual Edition (DDVE), a software-defined version of PowerProtect DD series appliances that can be deployed on-premises or in-cloud – AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and both the AWS and Azure Gov Clouds. v7.9 DDOS adds Alibaba cloud support to DDVE, and it can run in the Alibaba cloud in instances up to 96TB.

Smart Scale is now generally available at no charge to PowerProtect customers.