The rise of ransomware has made tape, which is offline and can’t be directly hit by ransomware, more attractive. The new Quantum converged tape appliance, a first of the kind in the industry, helps make Veeam more friendly to tape environments.
Tape has drawn some renewed interest as a good defense against ransomware, because it is not online, and is thus effectively immune from infection unlike most other forms of backup. Veeam, however, runs in virtualized environments that historically have been cumbersome in their ability to smoothly integrate tape. Now Quantum has introduced a product that is a first of its type, and which they see as a way to make tape much more attractive in Veeam environments, with a new converged tape appliance designed specifically for Veeam.
“Both Quantum’s disk-based and tape-based solutions are focused on backup and disaster recovery,” said Eric Bassier, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Quantum. In addition to Veeam, Quantum also works with Veritas, Commvault and some other data protection vendors. Veeam is the first however, for which Quantum has designed this kind of converged appliance, as elements in the Veeam environment make it particularly well-suited there.
“Veeam is the first data protection vendor that we have done something like this with,” Bassier said. “We have been working with them on it for a year and a half. It’s a converged tape appliance for Veeam specifically. It’s the only thing like this in the industry. No one else in the tape industry has anything like it.”
Tape is one of Quantum’s three main product lines. They are a long time-market leader, and together with HPE, and IBM, make up the LTO Consortium.
“Tape is core to what we do,” Bassier said. “Tape has been appreciated more recently as a really effective protection against ransomware because it’s offline. That’s the case for all tape, not just our solution here. The problem for Veeam and their customers though has been that creating tape in a Veeam environment has been difficult, because in 99 per cent of cases, Veeam runs in 100 per cent virtualized environments. Hypervisors don’t deal well with tape latency. So you needed a dedicated server. This was a pain for customers because they tended to be 100 per cent virtualized.”
Quantum sells entirely through channel partners, and for the channel, doing something like this to put tape in this virtual environment meant cobbling something together.
“It was very much a la carte,” said Matt Lockwood, Director of Datacenter Systems at HA Inc., a Quantum partner whose business is targeted mainly at the Greater Philadelphia region. “The client would need to stand up a tape library, a physical or virtual server, and have some dedicated connectivity between the two.”
Bassier said that Veeam looked at this issue and concluded that in a market where everything is converging, they could address the problem by doing things differently.
“Our new hardware gave us the ability to make this a converged appliance,” he said. “We talked with our customers and with Veeam, and we realized we could build the server in the back of the library, converging everything into one device. It’s a tape library, 3U high. It’s also super-easy for the end user. They order this, put it in a rack and go to the Veeam console, and the wizard installs the proxy server right on top of it.”
“Veeam’s appliances are SMB and midmarket mainly,” Bassier said. “There are two flavours of this – one-drive and two-drive versions – and the starting price for the one-drive is $USD 17,000, and the two-drive $USD 23,000, so these are very much priced for that market. We could scale it up as needed, as I believe Veeam will be successful growing up into the enterprise.”
HA’s Pennsylvania practice started with small and medium business, but in the ten years Lockwood has been with the company, they have expanded into the enterprise and now have some very large customers. He agreed that this appliance is best suited for SMB, although he thinks it has some niche enterprise potential.
“It’s SMB in terms of scale,” he said. “You are not looking at large libraries and proxy servers with this, but there are enterprise customers who could use something like it. I could see it being a fit for some small use cases within the enterprise.”
Bassier said that this appliance’s making it easier for Veeam to use tape should also – in theory – be extended to their competitors who are also Quantum strategic partners around data protection, like Veritas and Commvault, but that there are some complications.
“Our making it easier for Veeam to use tape should also make it easier for their competitors, who can use tape more elegantly and competitively, because they grew up around it,” Bassier said. “We have looked at the possibility of doing this for the data protection vendors that we work with. The issue though is that the footprint that the others’ software needs is bigger than what Veeam needs. So we would need a server with more memory and more CPU, as the one we have here likely wouldn’t work. It would likely involve more custom hardware. But it is something that we are looking at now.”
“I think they could find a way to adapt it,” Lockwood said. “We have done a lot of work with both Veritas NetBackup and with Commvault, and the architecture for this is small and simple. For us, the single model number makes it easier to procure and to sell. These are also a lot fewer moving pieces and a lot less reliance on other vendors for post-implementation support.”
Quantum’s converged tape appliances for Veeam environments are available now.