Zmanda's Data Backup: Enterprise Quality, SMB Prices

By Thor Olavsrud | Posted April 22, 2010

For many small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), data is the most important asset. And that makes many SMBs vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters because few small business owners have been able to tackle the cost and complexity of data backup and disaster recovery processes. Zmanda, an open source, cloud-based data backup company, aims to change that.

"Our mission is to bring down the cost of backup and disaster recovery dramatically," said Chander Kant, Zmanda's chief executive officer. "That's in terms of both cost and complexity."

Zmanda, which specializes in open source data backup and recovery services, today launched a major upgrade of its flagship Amanda Enterprise Edition version 3.1.

"We believe that more small businesses should think about backup and disaster recovery," Kant said. "We hope that by providing backup and disaster recovery solutions at low cost and complexity we can motivate more IT managers to look into their backup strategy.


Two of the most important upgrades to the product are the addition of network data management protocol (NDMP) and VMware Hypervisor support, two features typically only available in complex and expensive high-end solutions.

NDMP is a protocol for transporting data between network attached storage (NAS) devices and backup devices. It removes the need to transport data through the backup server, enhancing speed and removing load from the backup server.

VMware Hypervisor support allows SMBs using Amanda Enterprise to manage the backups of virtual environments. With the upgrade, users can take an image-level backup of the entire virtual machine from the Amanda server without the need to install client software on each individual virtual machine. This significantly reduces the overhead cost of installing and managing the backup architecture and improves performance by requiring fewer applications to be installed and run in the virtual environment.

"With the introduction of NDMP and VMware backup support, customers can look to Amanda Enterprise to provide high-end features and functions at an affordable price," Kant said. "These features were previously only available in enterprise solutions at premium prices and taxing complexity, but can now be enjoyed by the masses."

Other new features in Amanda Enterprise 3.1 include Microsoft Exchange 2010 support and XML reporting. In addition to providing visual backup reporting through the Web-based Zmanda Management Console, Amanda Enterprise 3.1 adds support for exporting backup reports in XML schema. This opens up the reports for integration with various reporting and management tools.

"Typically, small businesses don't have a disaster recovery plan because it's just too expensive," Kant added. "Setting up replication for all your machines, applications and operating systems tends to be a very costly thing."

Kant noted that Amanda Enterprise Edition version 3.1 is able to give SMBs backup and disaster recovery capabilities at prices that are often one-tenth or even one-twentieth of what competitors charge. Amanda Enterprise Edition costs $300 per application agent and $100 per client—an environment of 10 machines (servers, desktops and notebooks) would cost about $2,000 a year to protect.

He explained that the open source nature of Zmanda's model makes it possible. Zmanda makes Amanda Community Edition available for free download. The enterprise edition is the community edition's fully supported and enhanced sibling and comes complete with Amanda Management Console, a full-featured graphical user interface for Amanda.

"As MySQL is to databases and RedHat is to Linux, we are to backup software," Kant said. He further explained that Zmanda's model allows it to spend much less on marketing than its competitors do, allowing it to spend proportionally more on its research and development.

"We are optimized for people who are researching their own solutions," Kant said. "Our marketing cost is probably the lowest in the backup industry. That lets us spend more in R&D. We get out more features."

For SMBs willing to spend a little more to get backup and recovery services online faster, Zmanda also offers Zmanda Backup Appliance, a preconfigured virtual machine to backup an entire network of systems and applications, based on Amanda Enterprise. It costs $600 for the appliance and comes with several client licenses.

Zmanda also offers a cloud-based solution, which Kant said is becoming an increasingly popular option.

Thor Olavsrud is a freelance writer and a former senior editor of InternetNews.com. He has covered operating systems, standards, telecom and security, among other technologies.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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