It has been a while since I blogged and felt the need to get back on track and update the community with my view of ProtecTIER and the Deduplication market in general.
A recent Gartner Magic Quadrant study ranked the current deduplication PBBAs on the market. With the exception of 4 products the remaining market was ranked in the “niche” category. This includes ProtecTIER©. So the question is what does the Magic Quadrant ranking really mean.
In general a Magic Quadrant (MQ) is used to serve as a quick gauge of where a company’s product is in relation to the market in general. This is complicated as it is not ranking what is the best product for a customer, only how the companies and products stack-up to criteria that include intangible effects, like how the market “feels” about a product.
This MQ was conducted at a time where IBM’s competitors were on the attack, misquoting press releases of IBM resource shifts as signs ProtecTIER© was being killed off. This misquoting and the aggressive tactics by IBM’s competitors only means one thing, ProtecTIER© has been and will continue to be a threat to our competition including EMC’s Data Domain. No concerns were listed in the MQ that suggest IBM has any issues with ProtecTIER© that should concern a customer outside of the responses to the attack by IBM’s competitors in the space.
In the ©IDC Driving Change report, IBM ranks third in the PBBA ranking amongst all PBBAs. This includes IBM TS7700 Enterprise PBBA, but on a volumes count these are relatively low in this market. The ranking is also based on number of units not on capacity (Raw or Deduplicated) being managed by the solution. There are no solid numbers around the ranking related to data stored, however ProtecTIER© high availability, Dual node cluster capability, along with the ability to manage up to a PetaByte (PB) of data behind a single installation has positioned it as an enterprise leader in the market that can grow as the customer requirements grow.
ProtecTIER© is definitely the best of breed niche appliances for deduplication. Offering the patented HyperFactor™ technology, high availability dual node clustering, flexible storage with the option to grow without rip and replace, the TS7650G continues to be the choice for enterprises around the world, and the TS7620 offers the best possible entry price. The points Gartner makes in the MQ from ProtecTIERs© introduction still hold true, it is still the most flexible, and easily upgradable solution on the market.
What are some consideration not accounted for in the MQ?
Gateway Architecture: There is absolutely no consideration given to IBM's Gateway approach to deduplication. We are the only vendor on the planet that provides the flexibility of the Gateway design. This has a number of advantages, many financial.
Disk Flexibility: Every other vendor will lock the customer in to a specific disk configuration that is approved for their appliance. IBM offers many options both within IBM as well as non-IBM. Options for storage include the IBM Flash840 with he highest level of performance for storage in the industry. This flexibility ensures both the highest possible performance but also the lowest entry price point of a solution.
Future Upgrades: Since most customers are growing in the 30% to 40% CAGR range, they can expect that the repository configuration will double over the course of the next two to three years. When customers upgrade an appliance after three years they are forced to buy three year old disk (if not older). With IBM, the customer can purchase the best offering at the time. IBM does not know what disk options we will have in 2017, but ProtecTIER will support it. Today's appliances will be stuck on 2013 or 2014 disk for the entire time horizon of the installation.
Box swaps: Due to the limitation on disk offerings many customers choose to simply replace their appliance for a new one at the end of three years. With IBM, the Gateway design provides a longer term approach. IBM has adopted an approach much like a tape library which grows roots into the floor and remains installed for as long as a decade. The appliance model forces customers into a short term three year, box replacement approach which is what one might expect of a disk vendor. If you like the appliance model that's good because you will buy three of them in the next ten years. With IBM, one can upgrade over time, even replacing the Gateway nodes and end up with a package that is as new after ten years as it was on day 1 without replacing the entire system or copying data from an old to a new box.
Improved TCO: Only IBM provides a TCO approach enabled by the Gateway design. If any customer runs an analysis on the financial model of a Gateway incremental upgrade approach and compares that to a complete box swap design bound to occur over a five year horizon, one will quickly discover that IBM is providing the best value. Are you going to dump deduplication at the end of three years and change to a completely new backup architecture? Doubtful. It is important to look at the total time horizon of backup demands as opposed to running a TCO over the three year appliance life span. Isn’t it better to continue with the best possible performance and ease of management without data migration rather than ripping and replacing?
Aggregate License Agreement: Only IBM can provide a single deduplication umbrella for the entire Enterprise. Since most customer virtualize for the exclusive purpose of replicating data, most installations involve at least two systems, a backup system and a replication target. We can aggregate the software licensing so that this is viewed as a single large system significantly lowering pricing. Moreover, by implementing an Aggregate License model, we can assure the lowest pricing for future capacity upgrades. No other vendor can provide this capability. With EMC, if there are two boxes required it will double the cost. This is not true with the Aggregate License approach from IBM. Note that Gartner has criticized our software model but is actually the very thing that allows us to keep our pricing low.
Dual Node Redundancy: IBM's unique dual node architecture provides complete hardware redundancy. If for some reason a system with single points of failure were to become unavailable all backups would cease and all access to backup data would be lost. This is a serious consideration for enterprise level and high availability requirements that is a niche IBM fills better than any other product on the market..
Backup Software Aggregation: For any customer who may be running TSM, IBM has built a special deduplication filter which maximizes deduplication ratios for TSM backups. IBM has also developed a unique pricing alternative for TSM customers, lowering overall costs of the backup solution.
IBM continues development on ProtecTIER©. Feature integration continues to be reviewed and features implemented by the total customer demand. IBM’s continued support of ProtecTIER© has been, is and will be focused on enterprise customer needs, not by size of the account by on the importance of retaining the back-up infrastructure for long periods of time and the ease of managing that data and infrastructure. Data Integrity, availability, capacity, flexibility and upgradability are all key attributes that demanding customers focus on, and so does ProtecTIER.
Knowing IBM has the right focus on Enterprise class data deduce, why would you choose anyone else?