“This is how we’re trying to transform backup,” said Peter Elliman, senior manager of Symantec’s information management group. “Our all-in-one appliance differentiates us from most of our competitors, especially at the enterprise level. Backup appliances have traditionally been dedupe appliances. The more you can integrate the target device with the dedupe app and move dedupe up front, the better off you are.”

I grew up in a small town in South Carolina.  I’ve lived in a few other places – San Diego, northern Virginia – and spent a ton of time across the United States and across the world working on technology – but I’ve spent most of my personal time in South Carolina.  I didn’t grow up on a farm – but I grew up hearing a saying about being deliriously pleased with something: “happier than a pig in slop.”

I am happier than a pig in slop. 

The engineer in me has always known that integrated backup appliances are in the long-term where the industry would go.  Even in 100% virtualized environments, a virtual appliance approach for backup is a fundamentally superior approach.  Why?  Because backup is deceptively difficult with a whole lot of moving parts.  You need the predictability that a backup appliance approach brings from a technical perspective.  And if it’s not a physical appliance, you want a package into a virtual appliance so that you can at least more easily tune the load and performance characteristics through dynamic tuning of the underlying hardware allocated to the backup appliance (backup virtual appliance, that is.)

From a customer perspective, the case is even easier.  Very few people are “backup specialists” – while there are a whole lot of people who are storage administrators, server administrators, virtualization administrators, network administrators, IT staff, CIOs, and CEOs.  Most people don’t want to make it their life’s work to make backup work and stay working.  But when you buy loosely bundled backup software, that’s precisely what you’re doing – and in most cases you’re doing it on the most complicated (and versatile) operating system there is – Windows.

All of this is encapsulated in a pretty simple argument: you’re usually going to spend less time and money (Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO) with a backup appliance.  And you’re typically going to get a better result.  Not by a little – but by a lot.