Archive for July, 2009

Transitioning to the Cloud: Implications for Reliability, Redundancy and Recoverability

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Last week we had a lively panel discussion moderated by Dave Nielsen, founder of CloudCamp, with leading experts in cloud computing on the panel: Chander Kant (CEO, Zmanda) & Michael Crandell (CEO, RightScale). Chander and Michael shared their insights into how their customers are using cloud computing and achieving new levels of reliability and recoverability. Here is a video archive of the panel

This panel discusses how you can migrate your apps and data to the cloud in a way that’s affordable and reliable and how to integrate the cloud into your IT strategy. Also hear about real-world examples of companies using the cloud for data backup and recovery and understand the hurdles to moving to the cloud, and how you can overcome them.


Our price increased today. Now we are one-tenth the cost of Symantec.

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Today we increased price for the Amanda Enterprise Backup Server. The new price for our Standard subscription level is $500 per year. Our online store is a place to quickly checkout prices for all our products on a single page. This price increase was done in conjunction with release of Amanda Enterprise 3.0, which represents several man years of R&D on the backup server, including advanced media management such as D2D2T. Our subscription provides access to software and enterprise-class support.

Amanda Enterprise is used by businesses of all shapes and sizes. But a typical scenario is the following:

  • Backup Server on Linux
  • One tape library with one or two tape drives. Or VTL on a NAS device.
  • A mix of Linux & Windows servers and desktops to be protected
  • A mix of applications (e.g. Exchange) and databases (e.g. MySQL or Postgres) to be protected
  • Encryption on the server to protect data at rest

In above scenario, customers often consider NetBackup from Symantec as a potential product. Lets compare the new Amanda Enterprise pricing with NetBackup pricing.

First of all, finding prices for NetBackup for a particular configuration is a harrowing experience. There is no place on Symantec website which provides prices for all NetBackup options and features in one consolidated location. Rumor has it that the internal licensing guide for NetBackup is more than 40 pages long!

The least expensive way to buy NetBackup is one of the “Starter Packs”. Their 5 client starter pack with 1 NetBackup server and 1 tape drive license costs $3995. This price does not include any support. Maintenance is priced separately: $720 per year (similar support level to our Standard subscription). This restricts NetBackup server to “Tier 1 and Tier 2” systems. Tiering is one of the several confusing aspects of Symantec pricing. If your backup server has four or more CPUs, you are out of luck on the Starter Packs. A la carte pricing for NetBackup server and clients is significantly more expensive. A standard NetBackup server for a Tier 3 Linux server lists at $3200 + maintenance contract. Amanda Enterprise Servers or Clients have no tiered pricing. You can choose as hefty a server as your requirements dictate and pay us the same standard price.

Encryption on the backup server is a desired option for IT managers. This protects critical data at rest (or in transit – e.g. when a backup tape is being transferred to a remote location) from unauthorized access. By encrypting on the backup server, you relieve the CPUs on production clients from the burden of encryption. With Netbackup you need to buy the Media Server Encryption Option – list price for which is $10K+ (and this does not include the maintenance cost). Encryption is a built-in feature of the Amanda Enterprise Server.

Per Library Charge: NetBackup’s pricing options for Tape Drives and Tape Libraries is at best confusing. The starter pack above gives access to one tape drive. If you want to use another tape drive in a tape library, you need to buy a Tape Library Option for $3K list price. (And again, that does not include maintenance.). You can drive as many Tape Drives and Libraries you want from a single Amanda Enterprise server.

Want to use a VTL? You need to buy NetBackup Standard Disk or Enterprise Disk option. Standard Disk option is $995 for up to 1TB of data protected. Symantec doesn’t even pass the savings of data compression to you. (On top of that, you guessed it right, that does not include maintenance.). Amanda Enterprise has a built-in capability of transforming disk into virtual tapes. You can also use a VTL of your choice, with no additional cost.

This recent blog gives more color on NetBackup Licensing (Note: We don’t have any affiliation with this blog or its author).

In summary, a $500 Standard subscription for the Amanda Enterprise gives you a backup server which runs on any Tier server, including a Linux or a Solaris server, which can backup to as many tape drives and libraries you want – including VTLs, with server side encryption support, unlimited disk based backup, and vaulting (D2D2T) support. You will not get anything close to that for $5K from Symantec.

How are we able to do this? Our open source development, marketing and distribution model allows us to innovate aggressively with a huge community of developers and users providing extensive feedback on a regular basis. Proprietary software companies spend 60% to 80% of their budget on sales and marketing (Source: Time for a New Software Model), and these costs are passed on to the customers. We have a different equation. Our freely downloadable community editions represent the bulk of our marketing budget. This marketing budget is spent in the form of R&D to innovate and add features and usability to both our community and enterprise editions. So, instead of paying for sales and marketing overhead of proprietary backup software companies, you only pay for the R&D which provides direct benefit to you.

Symantec’s excessive use of tiering, options, different licensing models, components, and packs can be mind numbing for a hapless IT manager just looking to protect their systems and applications. This Doonesbury strip captures Symantec’s nickeling-and-diming pricing strategy for their backup software: