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Solving for all key backup challenges in a single solution

ExaGrid's lifetime value, investment protection and customer support is unmatched.

Johannesburg, 02 Aug 2021

Backup storage is moving to a top-of-mind issue amid growing volumes of data, the need for compliance with more legislation and the ever-increasing threat of ransomware, reports Neill Avenant, Business Development Manager: New Technologies at distributor Axiz.

“Organisations need cost-effective, rapid backup and even faster recovery, and in the face of ransomware threats, they also need their backup solution to keep their data safe. ExaGrid, the leader in backup storage, addresses these needs.

ExaGrid, available in South Africa through Axiz, provides tiered backup storage with a unique disk-cache Landing Zone, long-term retention repository and scale-out architecture. ExaGrid’s Landing Zone provides for the fastest backups, restores and instant VM recoveries.

The retention repository offers the lowest cost for long-term retention. ExaGrid’s scale-out architecture includes full appliances and ensures a fixed-length backup window as data grows, eliminating expensive forklift upgrades and product obsolescence. ExaGrid offers the only two-tiered backup storage approach with a non-network-facing tier, delayed deletes, and immutable objects to recover from ransomware attacks.

Protecting your data

Working with all industry-leading backup applications, ExaGrid can take in backups from over 25 backup applications and utilities, including traditional backup applications, specialised backup utilities, virtualised backup applications, SQL and Oracle RMAN dumps and UNIX tar files.

ExaGrid’s unique tiered backup storage approach allows for all virtualised backup features to be fast as ExaGrid maintains a full copy of the most recent full VM backups in their full un-deduplicated form in an integrated disk-cache Landing Zone, avoiding the need for time-consuming data rehydration required from inline deduplication appliances for each request. Restores, recoveries, VM boots and tape copies are as fast as reading from disk.

Avenant says ExaGrid has a unique advantage for unidirectional replication. If the second site is for disaster recovery only, then the second-site ExaGrid can be configured to be used as a repository only. ExaGrid is asymmetrical as the second-site system can have the front-end Landing Zone and repository disk all be used as a repository. All other solutions are symmetrical, which requires the same size system on both sides of the replication. This unique ExaGrid approach allows a half-size system to be used at the second site, which saves valuable budget dollars over other solutions.

ExaGrid has partnered with third-party service providers to offer an ExaGrid Hybrid Cloud service. These providers house racks of ExaGrid systems at their data centres, allowing customers to replicate from their onsite ExaGrid system to an ExaGrid system owned and operated by either the third-party provider or the customer. The third-party provider can be a true cloud service provider or can be the customer’s reseller of choice.

Mitigating the impact of ransomware

Avenant says: “Protection from ransomware is a primary concern for organisations today. ExaGrid offers a unique approach to ensure that attackers cannot compromise the backup data, allowing organisations to be confident that they can restore the affected primary storage and avoid paying ugly ransoms.”

“The challenge is how to protect the backup data from being deleted while at the same time allowing for backup retention to be purged when retention points are hit,” he says. “If you retention lock all of the data, you cannot delete the retention points and the storage costs become untenable. If you allow retention points to be deleted to save storage, you leave the system open for hackers to delete all data. ExaGrid’s unique approach is called Retention Time-Lock. It prevents the hackers from deleting the backups and allows for retention points to be purged. The result is a strong data protection and recovery solution at a very low additional cost of ExaGrid storage.”

He explains that once the data is committed to the Landing Zone, it is tiered into a “non-network-facing” long-term retention repository where the data is adaptively deduplicated and stored as deduplicated data objects to reduce the storage costs of long-term retention data. As data is tiered to the retention tier, it is deduplicated and stored in a series of objects and metadata. As with other object storage systems, the ExaGrid system objects and metadata are never changed or modified, which makes them immutable, allowing only for the creation of new objects or deletion of old objects when retention is reached. The backups in the retention tier can be any number of days, weeks, months or years. “There are no limits to the number versions or length of time backups can be kept. Many organisations keep 12 weeklies, 36 monthlies and seven yearlies, or even sometimes retention forever,” he says.

ExaGrid’s Retention Time-Lock for ransomware recovery is in addition to the long term-retention of backup data and utilises three distinct functions: Immutable data deduplication objects, non-network-facing tier (tiered air gap) and delayed delete requests.

ExaGrid’s approach to ransomware allows organisations to set up a time lock period that delays the processing of any delete requests in the retention tier as that tier is not network facing and not accessible to hackers. The combination of a non-network facing tier, a delayed deletion for a period of time and immutable objects that cannot be changed or modified are the elements of the ExaGrid Retention Time-Lock solution.

Controlling costs

ExaGrid’s Price Protection Program enables IT organisations to plan upfront by allowing future appliances to be purchased at the same price paid for the original appliances, so the future price is known and is fixed. And, because ExaGrid offers various appliance models of different capacities, there is no need to purchase additional capacity upfront since it can be added at any time. In addition, ExaGrid’s maintenance and support costs are known upfront and guarantee that the annual fee for maintenance and support will not increase by more than 3% per year.

“ExaGrid really stands out in the market by providing significant lifetime value and investment protection that no other architecture can match, as well as world-class customer support,” Avenant says.