How Avamar's Jed Yueh Caught the Ultimate Fullback

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2006-11-20

How Avamar's Jed Yueh Caught the Ultimate Fullback

Data deduplication, which eliminates redundant data throughout a storage network, is one of the hottest new technologies in the data storage industry.

The fact that data storage giant EMC did not have a deduplication strategy within its product line was a major hole-that is, until this month.

The company, based in Hopkinton, Mass., on Oct. 31 announced the acquisition of data deduplication provider Avamar, founded by young Harvard graduate Jedidiah Yueh seven years ago.

Avamar is the market leader in the deduplication space, with 15 of the Fortune 50 companies and 400 customers overall.

EMC is annexing Avamar, based in Irvine, Calif., in a cash transaction valued at about $165 million. The acquisition is expected to be completed this month.

Yueh and his entire team will stay on at EMC and do what they do best, but from now on, they will be supported by a huge sales and marketing machine to go with a major-league channel distribution mechanism.

eWEEK Senior Writer Chris Preimesberger spoke with Yueh, 32, at the time of the announcement in Orlando, Fla., and followed up with an email interview.

Do you have a general comment or opinion regarding the deal and the newly combined company?

Despite the digital, highly connected world we live in, most of today's enterprises protect information by storing data onto tapes, manually removing tapes from robotic libraries, and physically shipping or trucking tapes from site to site.

These manual processes often lead to data loss-exposing companies to litigation and issues with regulatory compliance.

We believe EMC's acquisition of our data deduplication technology can transform these archaic procedures, enabling automated, encrypted disaster recovery across existing wide area networks and accelerating the shift to disk as the de facto medium for data protection.

What brought Avamar and EMC together?

We met in the data center. Even as an emerging software vendor, Avamar made significant inroads into large enterprise accounts, places where EMC had an established footprint. In many cases, our software worked in partnership with EMC storage to drive return on investment for our customers. Naturally, our customers pointed out the benefits-and added market opportunity-of combining our software with EMC's name, stability and support.

De-Duplication steals the show at Storage Networking World. Click here to read more.

It was also a marriage of true minds; EMC not only recognizes the potential sea change at hand, but it also has the might and moxie to make it happen.

Describe the key ingredients EMC brings to the table for Avamar's benefit.

EMC is the ultimate fullback-a company that can clear a wide path to market. Not only does EMC eliminate the risk of buying from a small company, it also provides the market presence, technology leadership, engineering and support resources, and the sales and marketing machine to accelerate the adoption of Avamar's software.

How is Avamar's IP going to affect the EMC product line in the short term? Long term?

Today, Avamar already integrates seamlessly with EMC's existing product lines. As a software solution, Avamar can use external disk storage arrays-including EMC Clariion and EMC Symmetrix.

In fact, by inverting the economics of disk versus tape backup, our software can significantly increase the addressable market for disk storage.

In addition, Avamar's software extends the reach of EMC NetWorker and EMC Centera from the data center out to remote sites and mobile systems.

Next Page: Avamars post-merger strategy.

Avamars Post

-Merger Strategy">

Avamar's remarkable deduplication technology can reach through narrow WANs to provide centralized protection for data that resides at the edge. Once Avamar has consolidated data back into the data center, it can archive that data out to EMC NetWorker or EMC Centera on an automated, scheduled basis.

Now, the picture becomes sharper, brighter. EMC's portfolio of products offers several near- and long-term integration points that can drive increased end-user value.

For instance, Avamar's integration with EMC DiskXtender can dramatically increase cost savings for our customers. In the end, I believe data deduplication will become a foundation technology for tomorrow's information infrastructure.

How will Avamar's go-to-market strategy-post-merger-change with relation to market foes, such as Data Domain and others?

EMC evaluated all the players on the data deduplication stage and discovered a simple truth: Avamar is the clear market leader.

EMC upgrades front-line storage products. Click here to read more.

Although the market often lumps deduplication solutions together, differences in implementation lead to significant differences in customer benefits.

For instance, in real-world customer deployments, Avamar has seen as high as 588:1 daily reduction in network traffic and data storage for backups-a rate of efficiency that dwarfs the competition.

Most of our competitors deduplicate at the target-after the backup server has requested resource-taxing full and incremental backups. Avamar, on the other hand, eliminates the avalanche before it happens-at the source.

This also provides Avamar's customers with a critical, differentiating benefit: the ability to network-mount point-in-time backups to use in conjunction with external applications such as search or document classification.

Solutions that deduplicate at the target, however, lack the "brains" to present data in such a flexible state, because the critical metadata is stored in the backup server-not in the target repository.

Post merger, EMC will rapidly bring this message to a broad market, so customers can make an informed decision-one that allows them to take full advantage of the proper implementation for data deduplication.

How soon do you envision Avamar's IP to trickle down into the home user space?

The trickle has already begun. Through our strategic partners, like Arsenal Digital, we are enabling major telecommunications companies, like SBC/AT&T, to provide data protection as a service to businesses and home users. Now it's a matter of turning that trickle into a flood.

Tell me something about Avamar you think is important but is overlooked or unknown to the outside world.

Virtualization is taking the world by storm-with VMware at the storm's eye. Avamar is beginning to establish itself as the preeminent solution for data protection of virtualized systems.

When you consolidate multiple physical servers onto a single host, you dramatically increase the number of files and the amount of data on a single piece of hardware-creating a major traffic jam for daily backups.

Avamar deduplicates inside virtual machines or consolidated backup servers, turning rush-hour traffic into a decongested speedway, reducing backup times and resource utilization. As the market for virtualization grows, so grows Avamar's market opportunity.

How Avamar did get started?

The story is almost too trite to be true. We dusted off the germ of the company in a coffee shop. For the first year, we incubated that germ in a three-bedroom apartment, packed to the rafters with computers, desks, Mountain Dew, 20 software engineers, and a dog named Que.

Our neighbors were afraid we were running an undercover drug lab, and we had to run extension cords to external circuits to increase power to the data center in our garage.

We are a long way from that three-bedroom apartment now.

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

Rocket Fuel