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Talking PBBA’s with Tributary Systems

By Glenn Garrahan, Director HPE Business

Tributary Systems


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Every endeavor, including the Enterprise Computing Industry, has its own unique set of acronyms. Yet, until about a month or so ago, I’d never heard of the acronym PBBA. So off to Google, where I discovered PBBA means Purpose Built Backup Appliance…how about that?

So what is a PBBA?  It’s typically defined as a standalone disk-based storage device that is configured and optimized for storing (and restoring) backup data. Usually a PBBA is a target for data coming from a host based BMA (Backup Management Application), and includes features such as compression, encryption, software defined data retention policies, fast automated setup (with plug and play capabilities) and ideally can be added to any existing IT infrastructure with minimal or no disruptions. Importantly, a PBBA runs its own backup-related workloads without impacting the attached host or hosts. As it is a separate device dedicated only to backup/restore workloads, it does not take resources away from the devices handling active storage or applications in the enterprise.

A purpose built backup appliance can also be deployed as a gateway device between the host based BMA software and cloud storage, be it on premise or public.


Disadvantages of Dedup Technology

Unlike modern PBBA’s, Disk deduplication is an old technology.  It was developed and brought to market in the early 2000’s, when small disk capacities and steep HDD prices were the norm.

While de-duplication eliminates multiple copies and disk blocks from being stored, it’s necessary to perform a time consuming “full backup” to maximize the de-duplication ratio. Additionally, de-duplication manufacturers generally charge a premium (of 4 to 7 times regular disk storage prices for every TB of raw disk capacity) on the assumption that their product can achieve at least a 10:1 de-duplication ratio (or more with highly repetitive data). However, certain customer data types are unique and will not compress or dedup. Customers with such data pay a large premium for de-duplication disk hardware when compared to regular, simple disk space.

De-duplication subsystems were originally designed to replace magnetic tape or other storage methodologies, not complement them.  Data portability is virtually non-existent with de-duplication, it was not designed for tiering or sending data to a lower cost archival medium like tape, object storage or a public cloud (object storage using S3 protocol).  The ability to move data out of the de-duplication storage subsystem was added much later, as lack of this fundamental capability generated customer complaints. When data needs to be moved out of the de-duplication subsystem, it must be fully re-hydrated, which is a painfully slow process and may require third party software to move and track the data as it gets written to tape.  Certain manufacturers have created a process by which data can be transferred somewhat more efficiently, however this usually requires supplier lock-in, using only that particular vendor’s cloud product, many of which have repeatedly proven to be immature and suboptimal in a market place with much better choices. And, of course, there have been some high profile failures with these proprietary cloud products.

Finally, all de-duplication disk solutions go through a process called “garbage cleaning” to redirect links to new locations as the product optimizes space on its dedup disk.  This process takes from minutes to many hours depending on the size of the de-duplication subsystem and the size of the backups.  During this process, no backups or restores can be initiated, system is effectively down, causing end user complaints. The de-duplication methodology also causes performance degradation in backup and restore when the dedup disk space is only 55 percent full.


PBBA Market Size

The July 26th, 2019 on-line issue of BusinessWire stated:

The purpose-built backup appliance market is expected to grow from USD 5.2 billion in 2019 to USD 8.6 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 10.6%. The growth of this market can be attributed to the growth of the IoT market, stringent rules and regulation about data protection and data security such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), and increasing awareness among enterprises to focus on data protection.”

In the same issue, BusinessWire also reported that

The market for the hardware component of the purpose-built backup appliance market is expected to have a higher market share than a software component from 2019 to 2024. Generally, the hardware of the purpose-built backup appliance is either repaired or replaced when damaged, whereas the software of the purpose-built backup appliances are upgraded whenever the newer version is released. The hardware market is larger than the software market as hardware appliances are installed in most of the enterprises for the quick on-premise backup.”

So it appears that the future of data backup will be a high performance, low cost, hardware based PBBA using  software defined architecture that supports open industry standard hardware and storage from HPE, IBM, Hitachi and others, plus prevents customers from “de-dup or vendor lock in” is the answer. And such a PBBA must provide flexible implementation in a scalable architecture for on-premise as well as hybrid and public clouds.

This sounds like an unattainable dream… Does such a PBBA even exist? And for all NonStop Servers?  Why, yes it does! And it is called Storage Director!

Storage Director is the industry leading software defined, policy-based and tiered enterprise backup virtualization solution that enables data from any host, OS or backup application, to be backed up to any storage device, medium or technology. For Cloud-based backup, Storage Director interfaces with IBM’s Cloud Object Storage, Hitachi’s HCP, or any S3 compatible cloud.

Being a fully virtualized target for any backup management application, such as Spectrum Protect, NetBackup, Commvault, Veeam, etc., Storage Director enables policy-based data pools to be created and backed up to multiple targets and replicated for remote storage and DR, securely and without host intervention. Concurrent with HPE NonStop backups, Storage Director is able to present a single backup target or solution for backing up all open environments, such as Linux, Windows, VMWare, UNIX, etc. as well as other proprietary host platforms, such as IBM Mainframe (z/OS), iSeries, HP Open VMS etc. on a single node

Simply put, Storage Director is the most straightforward and best way to connect any NonStop server to any storage device or the Cloud (Public or Private). Storage Director provides for secure and high-performance Backup/ Restore operations at the lowest cost.

TSI Feb 2020


Of course, if you’d like additional information on NonStop Tape or Storage Director, visit, or call Matt Allen at 817-786-3066 (office) or 713-492-7434 (cell).

Storage Director allows NonStop professionals to “augment what they have and use it in creative new ways!”