EMC Avamar and The 1×2 Grid Configuration

During Avamar discussions two things generally come up right off the bat, deduplication ratios and cost.  Most people want to know, “How much Avamar do I need to fit all of my data?” and “How much is it going to cost me?”.  Both are very valid questions.  The sizing question is answered with a resounding “it depends” and the answer to cost question is relative to the answer to the first question.  Now, you won’t get any argument from me that Avamar IS expense but when you weigh out all the benefits and do some cost comparisons to other backup options it usually comes out a winner in the end.

In past post I’ve pointed out the different ways in which Avamar can be setup. There are basically 3:

–          Single Node Configuration

–          1×2 Grid Configuration

–          RAIN Configuration

Since cost is always a factor in any solutions many people with get their feet wet with a small single-node implementation and build from there.  Both the Single Node and 1×2 Grid configurations are non-redundant so they always need to be replicated to another site or another node.  The RAIN configuration consists of a minimum of 4 storage nodes and a management node and is fully internally redundant.  RAIN can be replicated if you want or it could simply be place in the DR site and backups could occur over the WAN.

So what’s with the 1×2 Grid?  Basically the only benefit I can see is that you’re able to combine 2 single nodes to get added capacity while keeping the ability to manage it as one system instead of 2 separate single nodes.  After talking though several scenarios with a few of our account executives I’ve come to the conclusion – Why even consider a 1×2 Grid?  For my example below I’ll use 2TB storage nodes and list pricing without any implementation services.  Follow with me:

Single Node Replicated – 2TB Licensed/Max Capacity: $116,000

–          2TB Licensing in Production and 2TB Licensing in DR

1×2 Grid Replicated – 2TB Licensed Capacity / 4TB Max Capacity: $296,000

–          2TB Licensing in Production and 2TB Licensing in DR

–          Adds the ability to expand to 4TB of capacity if needed.

5 Node RAIN – 4TB Licensed Capacity / 6TB Max Capacity:  $181,000

–          4TB Licensing in Production

–          Ability to expand beyond 6TB by adding additional nodes

There are a couple of potential drawbacks to having a non-replicated RAIN configuration:

–          Backups happen across your WAN.  Everything is source based so unless you have a lot of daily changes or a very small link between sites this is probably not an issue.

–          Restores have to be pulled back across the WAN in rehydrated form.  If you are doing restores often or restoring very large files this will obviously affect your bandwidth and restore time.  In most cases, however, the files are small and restores infrequent.   

In my opinion if you are thinking about long-term growth and scalability (you should be) this is a very easy decision – go with a RAIN Configured Avamar solution to start with and license only the capacity you need or start with a replicated Single Node solution and upgrade to RAIN when you run out of space.  The upgrade cost of the Single Node to RAIN is simply the difference between the two costs or $65,000.  Keep in mind everything here is LIST pricing so if you apply a decent discount to this pricing the numbers get even better.

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2 Responses to “EMC Avamar and The 1×2 Grid Configuration”

  1. Kyle king Says:

    I have a customer that is looking at purchasing Avamar for disk based backup with deduplication. They originally looked at the Avamar Data Store solution, but balked because of pricing. They settled on just buying the Avamar software, running it on Dell Servers and backing up to DAS (Nexsan). Is this possible? Can you run Avamar on Dell Servers or if not utilizing the Data Store, does it have to be run on a VM? Also, if run on either a VM or physical server – can third party storage be utilized?

    • bcalfo Says:

      The Avamar Datastores are Dell servers under the faceplates. Third party storage can not be utilized for storing the data. If they are running Avamar/VE which is just a vm they could run it on just about any server capable of running ESX/vSphere. That vm could then be backed up to a storage array like any other vm if they wanted. Thanks for the comments!

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