Imation Tackles SMB Cloud Backup with DataGuard Appliances

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted February 24, 2012

Imation launched its first backup appliances this week, the DataGuard T5R and DataGuard R4. The company's goal, apart from providing NAS data protection, is to get SMBs to embrace cloud backup.

"Small businesses are intrigued by cloud computing," says Bill Schilling, Imation's director of global product marketing for the scalable storage unit. But that curiosity fades when they're faced with decisions about how to manage their physical backups and harmonize them with a cloud-based backup strategy.

"DataGuard is a pathway to the cloud," he says. Available in desktop tower and 1U rack-mount form factors, DataGuard is a "data protection appliance that is optimized for use in the small business market."

Both the desktop T5R and rackmount R4 models can be outfitted with 3.5-inch SATA hard drives, which serve as the basis of NAS storage. The T5R accommodates five SATA drives while the R4 can fit four. RAID support includes levels 0, 1, 1E, 3, 5, and 10 -- with the addition of RAID 6 for the T5R.

An Intel dual-core 2.13 GHz Atom processor powers DataGuard. Dual gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports provide network connectivity and peripherals plug in via two USB 3.0 and three USB 2.0 ports.

Lastly, each DataGuard features a dock for removable RDX disk cartridges. It's this portable storage module that Imation believes will help get SMBs over the "cloud seeding" hump.

Beating a Sneakernet Path to the Cloud

Cloud seeding -- the first step in setting up cloud backups -- sounds simple enough. Upload data to the cloud and enjoy the peace of mind of having it reside on an off-site data center.

But for SMBs, there's a big stumbling block. The reason boils down to "some fairly simple math," says Rusty Rosenberger, Imation's director of global product management for scalable storage. In short, most small business broadband connections are bandwidth constrained, and that can add up to an unacceptably long wait for backup protection.

As an example, he explains that "using Comcast Business Class, it would take up to 55 days" to upload the data that an RDX module can store. The solution: ship a populated RDX drive to participating cloud backup providers like Nine Technology, and let them quickly transfer that data onto their storage infrastructure.

With that step taken care of, users can configure DataGuard to transfer less bandwidth-intensive incremental backups on Amazon S3, Dropbox or OpenStack-enabled clouds. Moreover, the appliance serves as the link to the cloud, keeping local and cloud data in sync with SMB-friendly management options.

The sneakernet advantage also works in reverse, says Rosenberger. Should an IT mishap befall a customer, an RDX, complete with the latest incremental updates, can be shipped overnight for on-premises disaster recovery regardless of whether the business has reliable online access.

DataGuard works with most backup software packages, says Schilling, including Symantec Backup Exec. In addition to on-board SATA storage, RDX modules and cloud capabilities, it supports replication to another DataGuard appliance, completing the "four layers of protection in a single product" mantra that went into developing the DataGuard.

Imation's DataGuard T5R (desktop) and R4 (rackmount) are available now. Prices start at $2,000 and can reach $5,000 depending on the configuration.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE

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