Will EMC BRS kill Avamar or NetWorker?

EMC World 2012 has come and gone. For those watching the Backup and Recovery Services (BRS) division would notice a drastic shift in strategy since last year. Is Avamar counting its days?

Surprised? Let me explain. Remember the “Tape sucks! Move on!”  Campaign sung by BRS last year? They even mocked Google for recovering from tapes. They wanted the world to look at Avamar and Data Domain, the two products with spinning disks as the houses of backups. The other child NetWorker was mostly ignored and was on life support just to get by with the era of tapes.

BRS seems to have come to grip with the reality to some extent. The incremental updates to Avamar and revelation of NetWorker 8 features tend to indicate that BRS is taking a 180-degree turn.

No real updates for Avamar Data Store: All the announced business critical applications support in Avamar are for both Data Domain Boost and Avamar native client. Hyper-V that is popular among SMB workloads is now available through Boost to a Data Domain target. Last year, BRS’ announcement was that DD is for specific work loads and Avamar Data Store is for everything else. Now Boost is getting more attention and Avamar engine by itself pretty much stays the same.  The blackout windows in Avamar Data Store already annoy customers. Data Domain deduplication engine is preferred for target dedupe and DD Boost will replace source side deduplication eventually? Inspired by Symantec’s Dedupe Everywhere strategy?

Note: Thank to Ian’s comment on clarifying that newer application support is available for Avamar as well. Not just for Data Domain through DD Boost.

Emergence of Media Access Node: BRS realized that customers with longer retention requirements would not buy in on ‘keep it on disk’ message. Tape provides economies of scale. Modern tape technologies are superior in performance and reliability. Now, BRS ships a NetWorker node underneath the cover as Media Access Node in Avamar to copy rehydrated data into tape in NetWorker tape format.

NetWorker 8.0 getting some facelift: Although NetWorker was ignored in keynotes, BRS made a deliberate attempt this year to show what is happening to NetWorker. It was expecting the morgue but now pulled back and is getting revved up. There is a long road ahead to convince customers, but BRS says it is putting equal number of resources on NetWorker as was done on Avamar.  Not to mention about the newfound love, Spectralogic, to compete with IBM and Oracle.

If you pay closer attention, all that Avamar got is to make things better for Data Domain (Boost expansion, multi-stream support…) and NetWorker (data stored in NetWorker tape format). In a nutshell, BRS wants everyone to keep backup data on either Data Domain dedupe format or NetWorker tape format. Once NetWorker and Data Domain Boost combination can support backups through WAN, Avamar may not have anything to offer. From operating margin perspective, Avamar as a product may become a dog in BCG Growth-share matrix? The one eventually going to morgue looks to be Avamar Dedupe engine?

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2 thoughts on “Will EMC BRS kill Avamar or NetWorker?

  • June 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    “All the announced business critical applications support in Avamar are geared towards Data Domain Boost. Even Hyper-V that is popular among SMB workloads is available only through Boost to a Data Domain target.”

    This is incorrect. Either back-end is supported for these applications, including Hyper-V.

    “Now, BRS ships a NetWorker node underneath the cover as Media Access Node in Avamar to copy rehydrated data into tape in NetWorker tape format.”

    A Media Access Node is not a NetWorker node. You wouldn’t call a VNX a Celerra — they’re different beasts.

    The rest of this post is speculation.

    Disclosure: I work for EMC but comments are my own.

  • June 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks Ian on clarifying the application support for both Data Domain and Avamar Data Store back-end. Appreciate it. I have rewritten that part and acknowledged your feedback.

    RE: NetWorker
    I was mainly referring to the data format (the engine) in media access node. NetWorker is an established platform and I applaud EMC to use it underneath the cover. It wasn’t a negative comment! In reality, the fact that it is coming from a time tested format is a plus point.

    RE: speculation
    I do not work for EMC. I am sharing my thoughts (in fact the title of the blog ends with a question mark) based on messages coming through press releases, other media and my conversations with industry peers at conferences/events. EMC has four products (NetWorker, Avamar, Data Domain & HomeBase) with overlapping stories. Any strategic leader would be continually looking at optimizing business strategy to provide better value for both customers and share holders. I am simply passionate about studying what goes on in organizations and write about it.

    Thank you very much.


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