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Three reasons to rethink your recovery strategy after Dell/EMC become one

Although the $67 billion acquisition by Dell of EMC is not yet complete, you should already be evaluating your data recovery infrastructure.

When announced, acquisitions are always touted as the greatest thing ever for clients. But once the dust settles and the headlines in the technology press fade, the reality is that clients often get screwed over by higher pricing, the sunsetting of similar products and the loss of familiar sales/support personnel.

Admittedly, those worst-case scenarios may not happen with this acquisition, and for the sake of your company’s critical data I hope not. But the low-hanging fruit that’s cut after any merger may be the product you count on to store your data or the tech support person you’ve trusted for years.

Below are three reasons why you should evaluate your recovery options in the wake of the Dell/EMC merger:

One. Over-reliance on vendor-specific storage snapshots. Dell and EMC started out as friends but morphed into fierce competitors in the storage market with many overlapping and competing products. History shows that acquisitions that take place between formerly competing companies result in the sunset of one of the party’s competitive products. EMC has VMAX, VNX, XtremIO and Isilon families of storage arrays. Dell’s has Compellent and EqualLogic. Both have competing deduplication storage appliances but more on that in a minute. To swallow a $67 billion acquisition, something’s got to fade into the sunset.

Each of the arrays snapshot offerings have continually been enhanced to allow the array to create ever more efficient snapshots. Customer’s love it. What they haven’t done is make those snapshots transfer between any other model of storage array. That presents a real problem for the many customers that have created a complete dependency for their recovery on the use of these snapshots. Wait until you try and migrate the 70 TB’s of snapshots you created on the EMC VMAX array to the Dell Compellent array. It will be a nightmare.

In healthcare especially, budgets are tight. It is not unusual in healthcare to find hospitals using storage arrays greater than five years. If your strategy has been to continually expand the number of snapshots you retain with incremental storage buys and you didn’t combine that with traditional copying through backup you may be left with a gaping hole in your recovery model.

It’s not too late to mix the two technologies, backup and storage snapshots, and begin to create a portable and storage vendor neutral copy. This will provide you options regardless of whether an EMC storage array or a Dell storage array is the one left standing.

Two. Don’t forget the software overlap.

Dell has a series of successful backup related products; AppAssure, Quest vRanger and NetVault with deduplication coming from their Ocarina acquisition that is the DR series of appliances. EMC has their NetWorker offering with deduplication coming from Data Domain. Further they also have Avamar and Recoverpoint, two fully non-compatible devices, which are heavily dependent upon capabilities within NetWorker.

Which will survive; who knows? However, many of these backup software and deduplication hardware combinations are dependent upon another product offered by either Dell or EMC. If you run the wrong combination, meaning either your backup product or deduplication appliance is terminated you are in trouble. Perhaps now you should be considering backup products that work with all the deduplication offerings both companies currently have so no matter what goes and what stays your backup-deduplication pairing continues to work.

There are product overlaps in a few other segments, giving you even more reason to watch this merger carefully.

Three. Future-proofing your infrastructure. Hardware vendors routinely make application program interfaces available to partners like our company. We invest large amounts of our engineering activity in making sure we support all the storage snapshots and deduplication devices required by the healthcare market.

Just so I’m saying it, we love all these technologies from Dell and EMC. We think they all have a place in solving the issue of fast efficient recovery. However, we also believe that if you build your recovery strategy exclusively on a silo of one vendor’s storage capabilities and don’t regularly create a portable neutral-format copy of your data, you are asking for problems. This especially true in these days of holding online data for ransom.

Regardless of how many (if any) Dell or EMC products you use for backup, archiving and retrieval, I hope you will use this acquisition to closely examine your technology infrastructure. Effective data recovery can be a sticky issue if hardware and software are so siloed they become the obstacle. That’s why organizations need to reduce reliance on hardware-only solutions that don’t migrate well to other platforms.

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