Today EMC formally announced the availability of Avamar 5.0, which is loaded with new features and functionality. I am going to briefly review some of them here, focusing on the changes that I think will be most significant from a customer's point of view.
Having said that, please don't hesitate to ask questions or post feedback in the comments section if any of you are interested in any clarification on the material.
So what is new?
The big news is: bigger nodes, best server side task scheduling, more efficient checkpoints, new clients, desktop and laptop support, major performance enhancements for a variety of clients, and enhanced support for VMware environments.
That is the high level. Let's dive into these in a little more detail.
First off: bigger nodes. The 3rd generation of Avamar hardware is being release concurrently with Avamar 5.0 The new nodes offer 60% more capacity than the old nodes. New nodes are 3.3 TB of useable capacity each. This means that an Avamar grid can now grow to 52 TB of useable capacity. This compares to the 2.0 TB of capacity offered on the older 2nd generation nodes. The real benefit here: lower total cost of ownership. The new nodes are priced very similarly to the old, so the bottom line is simple: more capacity for your dollar. Incidentally, the underlying server hardware has been updated too, this is not just an increase in drive capacity, but an update to CPU, memory, etc. (all the good stuff that comes along with current server architectures).
Desktop and laptop support is also new. Now, truthfully, this could be done before. There was nothing stopping an Avamar user from taking a standard Windows client and sticking it on a laptop or desktop on it. However, this wasn't really the design point of the client, and there were some drawbacks with that approach. So, Avamar has addressed those by offering a web browser UI into the client. Clients can do backups, restores, search through restores, and examine their backup history through a web interface. Which really means that they can directly handle most common activities, rather than having to call the backup administrator. (And yes, Steve Jobs fans--myself included--can rest assured that it works on Mac too.)
Further improvements were made to enable desktop/laptop support: users can be authenticated with the domain service of your choice--either LDAP or Active Directory, or using Avamar user authentication if you prefer. Users can manually initiate backups. And clients can be remotely deployed using push installs to both Mac and Windows, with support for Microsoft SMS 2003.
Avamar has also added new clients: The big ones here are Oracle 11g, MS SQL Server 2008 and VCS support.
And finally we have enhanced our VMware support. I have written many times about Avamar's existing support for VMware: essentially there were two common approaches that users took--VCB backups and guest level backups. In either situation, Avamar offered a clearly better approach than alternative backup applications. Better in that backups were faster, used fewer resources, and were deduplicated at the source. Both of those options remain with the latest release of Avamar.
In addition, Avamar 5.0 offers integration with vSphere 4.0 environments, and leverages some of the native capabilities of vSphere and the vSphere APIs to provide a faster, better, deduplicated backup. Avamar 5.0 can now do image level backups (back up the virtual machine as a complete entitiy) and restores. Avamar can also take advantage of vSphere to do block level incremental backups of an ESX host--with the added capabilities of being able to do a file level restore of data (even if it has been backed up with block level incremental or image level backups).
So this is a big one. To the best of my knowledge, this makes Avamar 5.0 the first major backup product to market with significant vSphere 4.0 integration. Several parties have been asking for this (yes, W. Curtis Preston, I am thinking of you) and with this release, EMC has delivered.
On top of all this, there are numerous other major and minor enhancements, including enhancements to how the Avamar server handles and schedules internal administrative activity, how the Avamar server connects to EMC support, NAT support, dual switch support for high availability, secure deletion of data, improved performance and architecture for Oracle and NetApp filers via NDMP, improved support for multi-core processors to permit multi-threading of backups for faster performance, and system state backup and recovery for Windows Server 2003.
Next time... a more in-depth discussion of the new features in NetWorker 7.6 that I alluded to above.