I have endured hundreds of backup, replication and DR vendor presentations to our higher-ed clients over the years. The most memorable vendor comment came from an EMC sales rep, who when challenged by our client on why the pricing of a replication license (SRDF) was so high, simply blurted out, “We charge that much because we can.” Well, the market is quickly eroding the “because we can” vendor excuse.

Symantec recently released a set of appliances with pre-configured versions of NetBackup and PureDisk, Symantec’s dedupe product. Appliances range in capacity from the small 4 TB version to a pool that scales to 192 TBs. Licensing is capacity based which eliminates the high cost of one-size-fits-all server license entitlements. Our higher-ed clients have quickly figured out that this is an inexpensive approach to reducing backup windows and network capacity requirements. Universities with distributed locations are deploying appliances in geographically distant locations to reduce or eliminate weather and power grid-driven DR concerns.

Many of our university clients are now using spare data center capacity to build or expand shared services – some of which are being made available to sister institutions, nearby government agencies, non-profits and even local businesses. Institutions offering back-up and recovery as a shared-service could readily employ the Symantec  appliance for this purpose. They’re easy-to-deploy, component-based and sizing and cost estimates are straightforward using the capacity licensing model.

I’m told that Symantec will be releasing a Backup Exec version of the appliances for smaller workloads in the next few weeks.

Hopefully that EMC rep has long since retired; the days of expensive backup, dedupe and archiving solutions may be numbered.