Dell EMC adds data management, scale-out capabilities to data protection with new PowerProtect line

Dell EMC unveils a new scale-out offering, available as both a software-defined platform and an appliance, that is particularly aimed at hyperconverged startups like Cohesity and Rubrik.

Beth Phelan onstage with Dell EMC CTO John Roese

LAS VEGAS – While Monday at Dell Technologies World was all about highlighting new solutions that extended across the company’s broad portfolio, particularly ones which involved VMware, Tuesday was more about the updating of more traditional elements of the Dell Technologies portfolio under what is now the Dell EMC and Dell brands. One of the announcements Tuesday was a complete net-new, the twin one unveiling the PowerProtect Software platform and PowerProtect X400 multi-dimensional appliance.

“PowerProtect is our next-generation software-defined data management platform, which reflects the fact that we are moving from data protection to data management,” said Beth Phalen, President and GM of Dell EMC’s Data Protection division.

‘Power’ has become the branding for the next generation of Dell Technologies offerings, which started last year with the PowerMax brand in storage, and has also seen Dell’s networking portfolio publicly rebranded at this year’s Dell Technologies World – as PowerSwitch. PowerProtect becomes the data management platform.

PowerProtect is not, however, viewed as a next-generation replacement for Dell EMC’s older data protection technologies, Data Domain and Avamar.

“There is absolutely a place for Data Domain,” Phalen emphasized, clarifying the company’s position to a media and analyst session where it was pointed out that Data Domain was visibly absent from the keynote presentation. “It continues to be a huge part of our portfolio, and there is a significant amount of innovation there. It wasn’t mentioned today in the keynote because of the emphasis on PowerProtect, and the limited amount of time.”

The different products will continue to co-exist because they are fundamentally different.

“It really comes down to architecture,” said Rob Emsley, Director, Product Marketing, Data Protection, at Dell EMC. “Data Domain is a scale-up architecture. Power Protect is scale-out. Scale-out has some clear benefits, but scale-up does as well. When you need more performance you move to a new model with a head swap, and bring in another controller. We believe you need to offer both scale-out and scale up. Scale-out by its nature is nodal, bite size chunks, but if you already know you need specific performance and scale, scale-up gives a more straightforward way of acquiring that.”

The two portfolio sets mean there will be some overlap, but Emsley said that’s not an inherently bad thing.

“Joe Tucci [longtime EMC CEO before the merger with Dell] used to say that he would rather have overlap than gaps,” Emsley said. “This is part of moving from pure data protection to data management. So we aren’t positioning this as a replacement for our other products. It’s an additional choice.”

Two PowerProtect options were unveiled, the Dell EMC PowerProtect Software platform and Dell EMC PowerProtect X400 multi-dimensional appliance.

The software platform is the next-gen data management platform, which supports self-service capabilities and SaaS-based management, and has best-in-class VMware integration with vRealize Automation.

“Data management almost always starts with protection, because your ability to use the data to drive business outcomes if you can’t protect it is non-existent,” Emsley said. “Data management is also what you do around replication, and how you re-use your backup copy data for other purposes. We have rethrought what you need around data management. Policy engines here have been very protection-focused – how long do I retain data, how do I replicate to another location. But our intent over time to is extend this with new types of policies like compliance, and archiving, which go beyond backup and recovery. It’s a new platform to build out a broader set of capabilities.”

The appliance, the Dell EMC PowerProtect X400, has the same software stack for both as the software-defined platform. Available as a hybrid or all-flash data management appliance, it is the first Dell EMC data management solution to utilize machine learning for intelligent load balancing.

The appliance is clearly positioned against newer hyperconverged companies like Rubrik and Cohesity who have been contrasting their newer data protection technologies with Dell EMC’s old stuff.

“New entrants to the market always emphasize they are young and new, but Dell EMC would not be in the position we are in if our architecture and technology didn’t satisfy the requirements of customers,” Emsley said. “Hyperconverged architecture is getting a lot of interest, and the addition of the X400 appliance puts us in that space.”

The ability of the scale-out architectures to start out small also positions Dell EMC more effectively against companies like Veeam, who are particularly strong in the SMB and midmarket space.

“You can start in a very modest configuration, and that part is what competes against Veeam,” Emsley said. “It gives us, and more importantly in this market, our channel, the ability to deliver a strong case there.”

The initial release of the PowerProtect software will support Data Domain and Data Domain Virtual edition.

“Before the end of the year, however, you will be able to deploy it within the VWware virtual infrastructure of your choosing.” Emsley said. “It will be made available as a reference architecture at a  very low capacity point.”

In addition, Dell EMC is announcing the availability of an 8-24 TB version of their Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) DP4400.

“This is a more downmarket version of the DP4400, which is aimed more at ROBO and SMB use cases,” said Sam Grocott,  SVP Infrastructure Solutions Group Marketing, Dell EMC. “IDBA has seen rocket growth over the past year, and this will extend it to a new segment of customers.” The DD4400 can still be upgraded up to 96TB with the purchase of license keys and an upgrade kit.

The Dell EMC PowerProtect Software platform and PowerProtect X400 appliance will be generally available in July 2019. The Dell EMC IDPA DP4400 8-24TB version will be generally available in May 2019.

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