Evolving Beyond PBBAs

I have been on a few missions in my life – some nobler than others – and now I’m on a new mission.  Specifically, I’m out to evolve the market beyond a discussion of simple ‘purpose-built backup appliances’ to focus on ‘protection storage’.  You may be surprised to hear me say this since Data Domain systems (arguably) created and today leads the PBBA market.  But the reality is, that as wonderful as PBBAs are, protection storage is so much more than a simple backup appliance.

The first reason is quiet simple; we’ve seen more and more customers move towards consolidating backup and archive data on a single system.  Protection storage must be designed to handle both workloads simultaneously.  Since backup data (very few, large files) and archive data (many, very small files) has opposite characteristics, this is no easy feat.  To support archive data, EMC engineering has invested years of development to refine the Data Domain file system to support both workloads.

The second piece of the protection storage puzzle goes to the heart of the purpose of backups and archives.  Specifically, if you’re going to recover or access data on backup or archive storage, you’re doing so because it no longer exists anywhere else.  That makes this protection storage system your storage of last resort.  This means that protection storage must be designed to ensure that when data is requested from the system, it will be reliably delivered back every time.  This is the core of the Data Domain Data Invulnerability Architecture –industry leading data integrity protection.

Finally, protection storage differs from primary storage in that must provide a cost effective $/GB.  As we all know, the key to this is deduplication – but not all deduplication is created equal.  In order to provide the highest dedupe rates, a system must use variable-length deduplication and dedupe across a highly scalable storage pool.  Data Domain deduplication reduces storage requirements by an average of 10 to 30x and systems scale up to 2 PB of usable capacity in a single system.

As you can see, I’m pretty passionate about this topic and sometimes I think I may be a crazy lone wolf on this mission.  But this week, I was thrilled to see that I may not be so crazy after all. Colm Keegan, Sr. Analyst over at Storage Switzerland just posted a great blog on Tuesday that discusses this very topic.   Check out what he has to say and let us know what you think.

Caitlin Gordon

Caitlin Gordon

Data Domain Product Marketing, Data Protection and Availability Division
I have spent the past nine years focused on all things data protection, with a focus on backup and archive. Lucky for me, Data Domain Systems give me lots of good topics to discuss here. When I’m not blogging, I’m equal parts gadget geek and sports freak – always ready to chat about the latest IT rumor or celebrate/lament the latest Boston sports heartbreak/victory. You can also find me talking backup on Twitter and YouTube.

EMC Elect 2014

EMC Elect 2014

First off, I wanted to say how honored and humbled I am to be a returning EMC Elect member in 2014. I have learned so much in the first year of being an Elect that I can only imagine what greatness is in store for me and being able to learn from this fantastic group of new and returning members.

For those readers that are not sure what “EMC Elect” is about, or have never heard of it, let me explain. As posted on our EMC Community Page (Login/Account Required):

“EMC Elect is a community-driven recognition and thank you for individual’s engagement with EMC as a brand over the last calendar year.”

While that is the most concise and accurate statement describing the program at a high level, having what it takes to become EMC Elect in my mind is where the true value of this program shines through.

There are three pillars that each member selected into this program stand on:

  • Engagement – EMC Elect revolves around a person’s social engagement and advocacy for the EMC brand, its products, and philosophy. Engagement usually takes place through social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs, but can also include the level of engagement and contributions (speaking opportunities, etc.) that a member makes at industry events and conferences.
  • Commitment – This attribute comes in the form of being involved in industry conversation on a consistent basis, particularly surrounding EMC technology topics. However, more importantly, commitment is shown through constructive feedback helping efforts to improve not only EMC Elect or EMC and it’s products but also the technology industry as well.
  • Leadership – To put it simply, it’s all about initiative. EMC Elect are always ready to take the opportunity to engage and represent for the betterment of the community and the EMC Brand.

I want to go ahead and congratulate those that have been announced this morning as EMC Elect 2014. In particular, my fellow co-workers in the EMC Data Protection and Availability Division:

If you have a minute, take a look at their respective blogs and give them an EMC Elect congratulatory Twitter Follow!

While all of the EMC Elect 2014 should be recognized, the real winner in all of this is EMC’s customers and the industry as a whole. I speak for the group of Elect in saying that our main mission is to be an advocate for the EMC brand.  You are probably thinking now, “What does this mean for me?”

Our mission of advocacy is two fold. Providing you, the readers of our blogs and tweets, knowledge and a transparent view of the world of EMC. But more importantly it is also to listen and provide EMC with valuable feedback that ultimately means better service and solutions for you the customers.

So if you visit an EMC Elect blog, comment and share your views and feedback. Or, if you see an EMC Elect member at an industry event, feel free to engage, converse, and share knowledge, it’s what we as members are committed (and eager) to do!

Alex Almeida

Alex Almeida

Technology Evangelist, Data Protection and Availability Division
My passion for technology started at an early age and has never stopped. Today, I find myself immersed in data protection. Yep, I live, breathe and tweet backup, availability and archive. In fact, nothing short of fully understanding how things work will keep me from digging deeper. But when I’m not evangelizing on the benefits of backup or technology in general, I can be spotted at a New England Revolution game, behind the lens of a camera or listening to my favorite albums on vinyl. In addition to blogging for The Protection Continuum, you can find me on the EMC Community Network. Also, I'm a member of EMC Elect 2014, and I'm active in the New England VMware User Group (NEVMUG) and the Virtualization Technology User Group (VTUG). Let's get technical!

The One Resolution Your Organization Can’t Afford Not to Make in 2014

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I rarely make them. Actually, I can’t recall the last time I made one. College perhaps?

Why then this post to start the year?

For three reasons:

  • I’ve got a (somewhat) captive audience. We’re generally more open to change at this time of year than we are at any other point throughout the year, except perhaps on our birthdays. Just look at the volume of tweets generated over the past couple of weeks including the hashtags #2014, #newyearresolution or #resolutions, or, in the IT sphere, tweets with the hashtags #ITresolutions, #ITregrets, #2014techtrends or #2014techpredictions. We want to be healthier, kinder, smarter, more efficient, more valuable, etc., and the New Year provides the proverbial blank slate to start fresh.173669653
  • Change is inevitable. We grow older, markets and trends shift, technologies run their courses, new competitors emerge, etc. Being indelibly wedded to an idea, trend, technology, product or a way of doing things bounds options, and this isn’t healthy for you or your business. Data protection not excluded.
  • 2014 will be the year of the battle cry for protected storage to meet service level objectives (SLOs), and this is just as much a people/process story as it is technology/product story.

So, before the holiday break, I clicked on a link in an @HarvardBiz tweet, which led me to Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers by Niraj Dawar. It’s a thought provoking, strategy-challenging read—and, importantly, it’s the genesis of this post:

  • The 2014 resolution your organization can’t afford not to make is determining where your center of gravity lies (upstream with products or downstream with customers) and taking concrete steps to tilt it in the right direction (downstream).

Short on time?

No worries. Over the next few posts, I’ll highlight some of Dawar’s more salient points  as well as don my analyst hat to explore some of the broader implications of this tale for IT and  data protection more specifically. Together, we’ll connect some important dots.

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division at EMC Corporation
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

Hot Topics for 2014

In strictly avoiding making new year’s predictions in this space, in the last few years I have:

Upon further review, that last one treads a little close to the prediction line, so I’ll try to steer clear this year. Let’s focus on a few trends that are already hot as we kick off 2014.

Machine Learning.  Clearly, predictive coding was a very hot topic in 2013.  But the idea of using those technologies to deliver automated classification, sentiment analysis and even “predictive compliance” holds potentially even greater promise for the enterprise.  As our friend Chris Dale noted in a thought piece last year, there are far more documents impacted by an enterprise-based machine learning and classification system than one used just during eDiscovery.  (Note that Big Data – another hot topic – can be closely related to this issue).

Archiving and Backup.  Lawyers can no longer put off their technology education.  As part of that process, every in-house lawyer — and everyone who works with in-house counsel — must have at least a basic understanding of archives (whether for email, file systems or Sharepoint) and backup systems.  These systems hold key corporate data for retention and protection, implicate retention, compliance and privacy concerns, and may also require eDiscovery.  When legal has better knowledge of these systems, it also helps the organization to create policies and processes to more effectively manage the information in the first place.

Privacy.  Data privacy was also a hot topic during 2013.  And with tough state laws going into effect, the EU considering even stricter requirements and getting tough on the Safe Harbor, plus tougher enforcement in the US, there’s a lot to consider.

BYOD.  “Bring Your Own Device” is another issue that started strongly in 2013 and just seemed to get bigger.  Maybe that’s partly because it’s such a difficult and perhaps even unrecognized issue to solve (although we did have some thoughts on the process).  Thinking more about how BYOD impacts your compliance, privacy, data retention and eDiscovery processes is a big first step.

Happy 2014 and hope to see you all at Legal Tech.



Jim Shook

Jim Shook

Director, eDiscovery and Compliance Field Practice, Data Protection and Availability Division
I am a long-time “lawyer/technlogist”, having learned assembly language on a TRS-80 at age 12 and later a degree in Computer Science. But the law always fascinated me, and after being a litigator and general counsel for over 10 years, the challenges that technology brought to the law and compliance let me combine my favorite pursuits. I spend my days helping EMC’s customers understand their legal and compliance obligations, and then how to apply technology and best practices to meet them.

Tech Prediction for 2014: A Battle Cry for Protected Storage


Organizations buy storage infrastructure for one reason: meeting application service level objectives (SLOs). Applications look to storage for availability/accessibility, performance, and protection. While these functions may seem simple, a look at all of the different storage system and software offerings in the marketplace shows that it’s one of the most complex challenges for any data center.

Most storage service level discussions begin with availability and performance. To meet those SLOs, teams deploy multiple storage personalities and configurations – high-performance block storage or scale-out object storage or raw, low-cost IOPs storage, etc. Then they consider protection.

To read the rest of this blog and more tech predictions for 2014, please see our sister site Reflections.

Stephen Manley

Stephen Manley

CTO, Data Protection and Availability Division
Over the past 15 years at both EMC and NetApp, I have traveled the world, helping solve backup and recovery challenges - one customer at a time (clearly, I need to optimize my travel arrangements!). My professional mission is to transform data protection so that it accelerates customers’ businesses. I have a passion for helping engineers pursue technical career path(without becoming managers), telling stories about life on the road and NDMP (yes, that’s NDMP).