Post EMC World 2009 I thought I would offer a couple of observations on what I saw, and what customers were asking about.
The show was very well attended, and we were busy in the backup and dedup booth.
Two key trends emerged.
The first is that Avamar is becoming more and more mainstream. I saw interest in the technology from companies both small and large. Moreover--and this is just a subjective impression--I would saw interest was as strong in Avamar as it was in target based deduplication solutions. People are absolutely considering making the transition from their current backup application to Avamar where it makes sense (ROBO, VMware environments, and file servers primarily).
Because normal backup sucks. Pardon the vernacular. But just like a very recently deceased competitor was fond of saying: "tape sucks." Well, my revision is that backup sucks. There are lots of reasons for that. There are lots of ways to fix it. Some of them can be done within the confines of your existing backup application. Many, unfortunately, cannot.
But Avamar is different. Avamar does not suck. Avamar breaks the mould in a bunch of ways. And for those of you who are willing and able to change, Avamar is nothing short of revolutionary.
The key: you have to be both willing and able. Most people are willing. But change is hard. Particularly when it comes to changing a sticky application like backup. Particularly when backup is the red headed step child of IT. Change entails risk. Change means work. Change is hard.
But the destination is so worth it. The reward is so great. And I think more and more people are starting to figure this out about Avamar. It is worth it.
(As an aside, I also think this is why Avamar has been so successful in the case of VMware backups. Not only because it is revolutionary and demonstrably technically better, but because when you go to virtualize and consolidate on VMware you are changing anyway--so why not take that final step and change your backup application too?)
My second observation is that target based deduplication has yet to significantly penetrate the data center at the enterprise level--but that the winds of change are blowing.
VTL deployments remain very strong in this space. But at the high end of the market, where reliability, failover, and performance are key, where scalability is critical, and where changing your backup application is really really hard, VTL is still the preferred technology.
Preferred over backup to disk. Preferred over source deduplication. And preferred over target based deduplication appliances.
However, I had the opportunity to speak to 5 of the Fortune 50. And each was beginning to embark on a serious evaluation of target deduplication technology for core IT, raised floor backup. Many of these organizations have dabbled by placing target deduplication appliances at the edge of their business. But for the first time, I detected a serious desire to have wide spread deployment of the technology in the core of their business.
When customers at this scale begin large scale adoptions, I think the dam will finally break--traditional backup and recovery with physical tape will effectively end. The relevance of tape will diminish dramatically. Change will occur in earnest.
Personally, I can't wait.