HP's Federated Catalyst lets users combine backup systems

The software can pool resources across StoreOnce 6500 nodes and is headed for other systems

The HP StoreOnce 6500

The HP StoreOnce 6500

Just as computing power and primary storage are becoming virtual shared resources, backup capacity is also starting to be pooled, with promises of easier management.

The latest vendor that wants to turn many backup components into one is Hewlett-Packard, which introduced HP StoreOnce Federated Catalyst at its Discover conference in Las Vegas on Monday. The new software lets enterprises take several HP StoreOnce 6500 backup appliances, each of which may have several backup stores within it, and manage them all as one virtual store of data. Later, HP will introduce it for the older StoreOnce 6200 line and may extend the technology to its software-based StoreOnce Virtual Storage Appliance and let users extend the backup pool to cloud resources.

That might make life easier for the IT department at BlueShore Financial, a financial institution in British Columbia, Canada, that uses the StoreOnce 6200.

"Right now it's a lot of manual work to manage all these individual Catalyst stores," said Ryan Burgess, manager of technical infrastructure at BlueShore. The company runs a lean IT shop with just 12 employees, none a storage specialist. Burgess is investigating Federated Catalyst as a potential time-saver and a way to spread data from various applications across all the nodes in a 6200. Right now, data streams from VMware and Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server all have to go into their own data stores.

"From what I understand and what I expect, it will be giving us that easier management, but also better utilization of the assets we have," Burgess said. That could help prevent one node from getting overloaded and forcing BlueShore to buy more hardware, he said.

StoreOnce Federated Catalyst is designed to do that work itself. The software lets IT managers pool the capacity of multiple storage nodes -- initially, four StoreOnce 6500 nodes -- to form what appears as one large data store. Within that pool, an enterprise can add new nodes and add capacity to existing nodes. The software also extends data deduplication across the whole store, so with 860TB of usable capacity and a 20-to-1 deduplication ratio, Federated Catalyst can encompass a total logical backup capacity of 17PB.

Typical backup systems on the market now can only perform deduplication across one node, according to HP, while the StoreOnce 6500 has been able to do so on two controllers. Though Federated Catalyst allows for deduplication across four 6500 controllers to start with, HP could expand that to eight, the maximum number of nodes in a cluster, said Craig Nunes, vice president of marketing for HP Storage.

All told, Federated Catalyst can cut management overhead by 75 percent, according to HP.

List prices for the StoreOnce 6500 start at US$375,000. Federated Catalyst will be available starting in July, with prices starting at $37,500 per couplet, or pair of nodes configured for failover and autonomic restart.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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