Cohesity – Scale-Out Secondary Storage

Backups are boring. No matter if you’re talking about swapping tapes, configuring backup jobs in your legacy agent-based  software, or spending another night restoring snapshots from your storage array; there’s just no way to make backups interesting. Cohesity aims to fix that. No, they won’t make backups sexy, but they are looking to add a bit more flash to the secondary storage market.

So what exactly is “secondary storage?” Secondary storage encompasses our backups, non-prod workloads, fileshares and the like. The secondary storage market is gaining visibility recently. With the flood of primary storage vendors, Cohesity could have been another “me-too” primary storage vendor, but they see the value in attacking an under-developed market.

The concept of Cohesity is simple. You can purchase the C2300 or C2500 models which offer 48TB or 96TB of storage respectively in each 4-node appliance (with a minimum of 3-nodes to start). Additional capactity can be added a single node at a time afterwards in 12TB or 24TB chunks depending on the model. Each node contains either 800GB or 1.6TB of flash for caching along with compute and memory. Cohesity claims they are infinitely scalable due to their distributed OASIS (Open Architecture for Scalable Intelligent Storage) architecture, though they’ve only tested up to 32 nodes at the time of this writing. Once your nodes are setup, you just point Cohesity at your vCenter Server and you now have visibility of your virtual machines.

Cohesity, leveraging VADP, is able to snapshot your configured VMs and begins ingesting all that data. The changes of these VMs are tracked (using CBT) so you’re not performing new full backups each time. All that is pretty standard in the backup world, so what sets Cohesity apart? That data is not just backed up, but it is available to actually use. Want to spin up one of these backed up VMs for testing? Space-efficient clones are created directly on the Cohesity appliance and are presented back to your ESXi hosts. Searching for a file to restore from one of these VMs? You can locate it right from the web interface and download the file without having to restore the entire VM.

The differentiator for Cohesity is not just how it scales or how simple it makes the backup process, but how it makes your backups useful. Enabling developers to access clones of your production systems to test deployments and hotfixes without impacting your production storage. Integrated QoS preventing your dev/test workloads from consuming all your resources and causing backup performance to suffer. Utilizing the onboard flash combined with global deduplication, performance of these workloads can mimic production without the cost of an all flash array.

An all-inclusive secondary storage appliance that provides visibility of data sprawl adds to the value. Often times, as production systems are backed up and cloned and cloned again, you lose sight of the origin of that data. Migrating data from one storage array to another you lose that deduplication and you’re now increasing capacity across systems to accommodate your storage footprint. By providing an all-in-one solution for your backups and dev/test workloads, you’re able to maximize your investment without the need for multiple arrays and storage targets.

The backup market is a crowded one. There are more feature rich backup software providers in the space, but many of them require the purchase of additional storage that doesn’t have the capabilities of what Cohesity provides. Having just released Version 1 in mid-October, Cohesity has a lot of capabilities in their software with what appears to be a great vision for the future. The product is still in need of refinement to simplify the process of searches, reporting, and scheduling, but the foundation of what the Cohesity team has built has me excited to see where they’ll be able to take their product.

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Watch all the videos from Cohesity at Storage Field Day 8 here.

Disclaimer: During Storage Field Day 8, my expenses (flight, hotel, etc) were paid for by Tech Field Day. I am under no obligation to write about any of the presented content nor am I compensated by any of the presenting companies for such writing.

Cohesity – Scale-Out Secondary Storage

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