Backup Appliances vs. Igneous

Backup appliances from vendors like Cohesity, Commvault and Rubrik claim to offer customers the expandability they need, but when it comes to scaling, the cost and complexity often becomes unsustainable.

Top Challenges with Backup Appliances

Many customers who have adopted appliance-based backup solutions discover major limitations when it comes to backing up file data at scale.  In our countless conversations with customers on the topic, the limitations usually fall into four major categories.

Backup Appliances are Hardware Intensive

Appliance-based backup solutions need to scale linearly with your primary storage capacity.  With unstructured data expected to grow at 20-30% annually, this means customers should plan on a 4x increase in backup hardware footprint over 5 years.

Backup Appliances Aren't Built for File Backup

Appliance-based backup solutions often support file backup, but they aren't designed for its unique characteristics.  Their performance can be up to 10x slower than alternatives - requiring extra hardware to support even modest file environments.

Backup Appliances Aren't Built for Petabyte Scale

Appliance-based backup solutions aren't built for petabyte scale.  While they excel in small or structured data environments - they often require tens or hundreds of on-prem hardware nodes just to meet basic SLAs when datasets reach petabyte scale.

Backup Appliances Aren't Built for Cloud

Appliance-based backup solutions are hardware-first. While some vendors have been forced by customers to support cloud integrations, their hardware-based business model disincentivizes them from fully leveraging low-cost cloud storage.

3 Reasons Backup Appliance Customers Switch to Igneous

Backup appliances from vendors like Cohesity, Commvault and Rubrik are perfectly suitable for structured data where capacity growth is more predictable and more manageable, but they struggle with the petabyte scale, rapid growth and unique characteristics of file data. 

Customers increasingly turn to Igneous to help them with petabyte-scale backup and archive of file data - here are three main reasons customers make the switch.

1. Zero Hardware Footprint

Cohesity backup appliance scaling by data size Appliance-based backup vendors rely on adding more hardware to scale.  What starts as a single hardware appliance in a proof of concept can rapidly expand to over a dozen appliances as capacity grows from terabytes to petabytes of data, requiring more data center space, more infrastructure and more IT overhead to manage that expansion.

For example, this chart shows how your Cohesity footprint will grow from 1 hardware appliance to 15 hardware appliances as your capacity increases from hundreds of terabytes to petabytes of data.

Igneous is a software-only solution, built for petabyte scale.  Igneous installs with a VM and is infinitely scalable across a single site or multiple sites with additional VMs, meaning you'll never need to buy more dedicated hardware to protect your critical data, or lease more data center space to store additional racks.  

2. Built for Petabyte-Scale File Environments

rubrikbyfileWhile appliance-based backup solutions excel at small datasets or structured datasets like database and VM workloads, most vendors added support for file data as an afterthought, to round out their backup offerings.

Petabyte-scale unstructured datasets require a different architecture, one that is built for millions and billions of files. Appliance-based backup solutions require more hardware as customers increase capacity, grow file counts or change files more frequently. See the chart showing how Rubrik hardware requirements can vary by 3x depending on the average file size of your dataset alone.  These factors mean you must forecast not just capacity, but also average file size and change rate of your data over time, or run the risk of having to add more hardware to your datacenter just to meet backup SLAs.

Igneous is delivered as a VM, with no physical hardware.  A single Igneous VM can protect from 3-5PB of data and scaling up requires just a simple deployment of another VM - no hardware, no networking, no power feeds, no hassle.

3. Backup Direct to Cloud Archive Tiers

appliance-based-backup-on-premises-storage-requirementsRubrik, Cohesity and other backup appliance vendors require you maintain on-prem storage capacity to backup your data, even if you intend to leverage cloud as your backup target.  Backing up 5 petabytes to the cloud with leading backup appliance vendors will require anywhere from 500TB to 5PB of additional storage capacity on the backup appliance, in addition to your cloud storage.

In addition to requiring on-prem storage capacity for cloud backups, backup appliance vendors also have spotty levels of cloud support.  While most will claim to support AWS, Azure and GCP - most can't leverage deep archive tiers in each cloud to minimize storage costs and many fail to optimize for transaction costs in moving files to and from the cloud. 

While these additional storage and transaction costs may be small in a test environment, they can lead to a 20x increase in cloud storage costs by landing data in hot cloud tiers and a 1000x increase in cloud transaction costs by not optimizing for ingress and egress fees with each provider.  

With Igneous, you can write backup and archive data directly to any cloud target, including the lowest-cost cloud archive tiers like AWS Glacier Deep Archive, Azure Archive and Google Coldline. Writing directly to cloud means there is no need for additional on-premises storage capacity to protect your data and by compressing, bundling and expiring data efficiently, we reduce cloud transaction costs by up to 1000x over competing solutions.

Learn How Petabyte-Scale Customers Save Millions with Igneous

From Fortune 500 companies to cutting edge life sciences firms, data-intensive customers are turning to Igneous to protect their critical file data at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.

View Customer Stories

How One Customer Saved $8.5M on Backup with Igneous

As one of the largest genomic research institutes in the world, this life sciences organization understood the challenges of managing unstructured data at scale.  Their NAS footprint had expanded to 25 petabytes, making it hard to identify what data was being used and was not being used so they could execute on an archive strategy to free up primary storage. 

The customer was relying on Isilon SyncIQ for data protection, replicating their massive dataset to a secondary storage tier, requiring a significant amount of additional hardware just to protect their data.  

This customer wanted to shrink their datacenter footprint by eliminating their replication environment and leverage Google Cloud Storage for backup. 

They evaluated appliance-based backup vendor Cohesity as an alternative to SyncIQ, but Cohesity would have required 7 or 8 additional nodes and supporting infrastructure to meet their needs - not aligning with their objective to shrink their on-prem infrastructure footprint.

Igneous provided a software-only solution running on VMs that was able to quickly scan and index their full dataset and backup that data to Google Cloud Storage. 

With Igneous, the customer was able to move 3.7 petabytes of data to GCP Archive class storage in just 3 weeks, eliminating their dependency on hardware replication with SyncIQ - resulting in a 64% reduction in storage costs by removing the need for over 50 nodes of Isilon storage in their secondary storage tier.

Read the Full Customer Story

Request a Custom Savings & Performance Analysis

We're so confident that Igneous will help you reduce backup costs by reducing your data center footprint, shrinking your IT overhead and leveraging the lowest cost storage targets - we'll prove it to you with a custom TCO analysis based on your environment.  


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Key Questions to Ask Your Backup Appliance Vendor

We've put together a list of questions to ask your appliance-based backup vendor about how their solutions will scale to meet your needs over time. 

Ask these key questions so you can better understand your future backup costs, datacenter footprint and IT headcount needed to protect your growing file environment with an appliance-based backup strategy.

  • How much hardware will I need as my primary storage capacity grows from 500TB to 1PB to 5PB?

    Why You Should Ask:
    Unstructured data is expected to grow 20-30% per year, which means a doubling every 2 years and 3.7x over 5 years.  1PB today will be 3.7PB in 5 years - which puts you in a whole different category when it comes to backup solutions.

    For most appliance-based backup vendors, hardware needs scale linearly with primary storage capacity.  An increase of 5x in your unstructured data capacity over the next 5 years means you'll also have to increase the  datacenter footprint, hardware and IT overhead for your backup solution at the same rate. 

    Plan for your datacenter footprint and hardware costs now, so you can better project your backup spend in the years ahead.

  • Can you provide a reference customer who is backing up 1PB+ of unstructured data with your solution?

    Why You Should Ask:
    Many appliance-based backup solutions start missing SLAs around 300-500TB of unstructured data.  If you are approaching that threshold now, you will face major struggles with your existing solution over the coming years.  

    Unfortunately, most vendors will tell you that backing up petabytes of unstructured data with their solution is possible, but they won't share the details around hardware costs, datacenter footprint and IT overhead when capacity reaches petabyte-scale. 

    Ask for a petabyte-scale customer reference to validate their claims, specifically around hardware footprint and meeting backup SLAs.  If they won't provide one, consider that a warning that their solution may not be built for petabyte-scale backup.

  • Do you support writing backups directly to archive tiers on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud?

    Why You Should Ask:

    Stating support for AWS, Azure and Google Cloud on its own doesn't mean much.  Each of these cloud providers has multiple tiers of storage, from hot to warm to cold to archive tiers.  Choosing the right tier is the difference between paying $300TB/year for storage and paying $12TB/year for storage.  Most of our customers find that the lowest-cost archive tiers meet their business objectives and achieve the cost savings they are looking for. 

    If your backup vendor can't write backups to cloud archive tiers or if your data needs to first land in an expensive hot-tier before being moved to a low-cost archive tier, then you could be left paying 25x more for cloud storage than you need to.  You don't want to discover this when you get your first bill.  We suggest asking for a written estimate of your cloud costs first, so you understand how they leverage low-cost cloud archive tiers at petabyte-scale.

  • What will my cloud transaction costs be if I start using cloud storage as my backup target with your solution?

    Why You Should Ask:

    Backing up data to the cloud at scale is easier said than done.  As public cloud vendors emerged, many enterprises rapidly moved workloads to the cloud only to pull them back due to unexpectedly high cloud costs.  The same risk exists for cloud storage costs if you are using an enterprise backup solution that wasn't optimized for cloud.

    The truth is that using cloud storage as a backup target is now significantly cheaper than on-premises storage for most enterprises, but cloud transaction costs can destroy those cost savings if they aren't controlled.

    Your backup vendor should be able to provide you a written cloud transaction cost estimate for moving your backups to the cloud that includes writing data to the cloud, recovering data from the cloud, and expiring data in the cloud.  If they can't - then they are probably hiding something.  

    For example, a simple native file copy to the cloud as a 'backup' will cost 1000x more in ingress/egress fees than using the compression, blobbing and optimization that Igneous provides. 

    Once you get the estimate back from your vendor on their cloud transaction costs to backup your data to the cloud, feel free to share it with us and we'll provide you a competitive TCO analysis to show you what a truly cloud-optimized backup solution should cost at petabyte-scale.

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