By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-02-07 Print this article Print

Avamar Technologies Inc.s Axion E provides small and midsize companies with a complete disk-based backup package that bundles storage hardware and software.

The Axion E uses Avamars intelligent data recognition software to analyze patterns and optimize backup operations. The hardware platform of the Axion E is an Intel Corp. 2.8GHz Xeon processor with 4GB of RAM. The 4U (7-inch) enclosure uses ATA-based hard drives and can hold as much as 1.5TB of protected data. This capacity isnt huge, but it should be more than adequate for smaller environments.

The Axion E, which began shipping in December, has a starting price of $45,000 for a single appliance with 10 licenses. It supports a range of operating systems, including Solaris 2.6, 7 and 8 and Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Windows XP and Windows 98.

Drivers are available for Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux 7, 8 and 9 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The Axion E can protect applications including Oracle Corp. databases and Microsoft Corp.s Exchange Server and SQL Server.

Axion E boxes can be clustered as storage needs increase, and Avamar provides replication technologies that let IT managers move backup data offsite over a WAN link.

In most office environments, the data thats created on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis is rarely unique—its usually alterations to pre-existing data. A large portion of storage resources are therefore devoted to redundant or extremely similar files.

To reduce this redundant data storage, the Axion E analyzes data and breaks it into chunks that are 10KB to 12KB in size. These segments are then given 20-byte addresses. Using these chunks, the Axion E can quickly find redundant chunks in the backup stream.

The Axion Es 1.5TB of storage can be used to back up several workstations and servers, provided these machines do not contain much unique data.

eWEEK Labs tested Axion E by attempting to back up multiple copies of a group of files. We found the Axion E could identify and skip redundant files, and when working with modified files, the Axion E can back up the changed portion of a file. In contrast, most traditional backup solutions create a new copy of a file, even when its only renamed or slightly modified.

As wed expect from a disk-based system, the Axion E could perform our test backup and restore jobs quickly, without the hassle of locating and mounting tape media.

Click here to read about how disk-based storage systems are challenging tape. The Axion E was easy to set up in tests; to install clients, we simply downloaded the backup client software from the appliance and ran a quick setup application.

We found the management GUIs were useful but not as easy to use as backup utilities such as Dantz Development Corp.s Retrospect or Veritas Software Corp.s Backup Exec.

The included reporting tools let us easily assess the health of our Axion E unit and observe data growth patterns.

IT managers who have invested in a backup infrastructure but want the speed and efficiency of a disk-based system should look at Data Domain Inc.s backup appliances, which are designed to work as targets for backup applications and have similar data recognition technology.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.


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