Unitrends, Comtrade Add Integrated Data Protection For Nutanix HCI Deployments

Unitrends, a Burlington, Mass.-based developer of physical and virtual enterprise backup and continuity appliances, on Wednesday unveiled integration with Nutanix's API, giving users a way to make sure data on its Nutanix's hyper-converged appliances is backed up and ready for recovery in case of disaster or downtime.

This follows a move earlier this Summer by Comtrade Software, a Boston-based developer of data protection products for hyper-converged infrastructures, which unveiled a purpose-built data protection for the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform the company claims can be deployed in under three minutes.

[Related: Nutanix Introduces Multi-Cloud Capabilities, Extends Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Across The Data Center To Cloud]

Comtrade and Unitrends are joining a number of other vendors, including Veeam and Rubrik, that have recently developed their own data protection technologies targeting easy integration with Nutanix.

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Unitrends updated its Recovery series backup appliances and its Unitrends Backup virtual appliances with hypervisor integration for the Nutanix AHV, or Acropolis Hypervisor, said Joe Noonan, vice president of product management for Unitrends.

Unitrends offers disaster recovery as-a-service, with either its own cloud, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, Noonan told CRN. Its data protection technology integrates with VMware, Microsoft and Citrix hypervisors – and now Nutanix AHV.

"That covers all the hypervisors that work with Nutanix," he said. "We make it easier for partners to sell Nutanix by covering all the hypervisors supported by the company."

With the Nutanix AHV integration, partners can quickly put together a complete data protection or disaster recovery solution for Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure appliances, said Alex Alvarez, senior vice president of worldwide channels at Unitrends.

This can be done using the Nutanix Recovery series hardware appliance or the Unitrends Backup virtual appliances, Alvarez told CRN.

The hardware appliances offer a lower cost integration, but some customers may prefer to run the Unitrends technology as a virtual machine on the Nutanix appliances, he said.

"Customers already invested in the Nutanix hardware may want to add the Unitrends virtual machines," Alvarez said. "It's perfect for backups. However, the virtual appliances need significantly less performance than what the Nutanix hardware provides. If the virtual machines are running on the Nutanix hardware, they will use capacity and performance that could be used for Tier 1 applications, like Oracle."

Unitrends channel partners should find connecting the Nutanix appliances to Unitrends' own cloud a better offering than connecting to AWS or Azure, Noonan said. In most cases, the Unitrends storage cloud provides the ability to move higher volumes of data to the cloud at a lower cost than public clouds, and it allows partners provide money-back SLAs (service level agreements), he said.

Alvarez estimated that about one-third of Unitrends' channel partners are active partners of Nutanix.

One of those partners, Phil Abeyta, president of Albuquerque, N.M.-based Ardham Technologies, said the ability to easily integrate Unitrends with Nutanix is important for his customer base.

"This works perfect for us," Abeyta told CRN. "Unitrends is a trusted solution for us. We've heard of others that work with Nutanix, but we like to vet our offerings and this is a seamless technology for customers. Having a compatible solution across different vendors we work with is important."

Until now, Ardham Technologies has been connecting customers' existing data protection technologies to their Nutanix deployments, Abeyta said. "It has been a struggle," he said. "When Unitrends said it will integrate with Nutanix, I was thinking, 'Thank goodness.'"

Comtrade Software took a slightly different approach with Nutanix data protection with the release of HYCU, which it called the first purpose-built data protection for the new Nutanix Enterprise Cloud platform.

HYCU, which is pronounced like "haiku" and is short for "hyper-converged uptime," supports all workloads on the Nutanix platform, said Comtrade President Simon Taylor.

Comtrade has been around for about 25 years, and was primarily focused on monitoring and system management tools for Citrix environments before Citrix acquired that part of its business last year, Taylor told CRN.

HYCU is Comtrade's first self-branded product, and was designed specifically for the Nutanix cloud, he said. "We see hyper-converged infrastructure as the fastest-growing business in IT," he said. "When we developed HYCU, Nutanix was the leading vendor and about to go public."

Subbiah Sundaram, Comtrade's head of data protection, told CRN that, while hyper-converged infrastructure technology has a focus on simplicity, traditional backup technology was built for traditional infrastructures and is not easy to implement with hyper-converged infrastructure deployments.

HYCU is a simple solution, Sundaram said. "It is the first purpose-built backup and recovery solution for Nutanix," he said. "It is the first efficient backup and recovery solution for Nutanix's AHV hypervisor, with VMware ESX support to come later. And it is the first backup and recovery with automated application discovery."

Sundaram said HYCU is as simple as 1-2-3-4. "One-click backup, two-minute recovery, three-minute deployment, and four-minute learning," he said.

To back up data with HYCU, the user tells the software what virtual machines to protect and selects the appropriate policies, Sundaram said. This can be done at the virtual machine or application level. The software also offers file and folder recovery, the ability to restore to a specific point in time, and the ability to choose local, remote or cloud backup targets, he said.

Comtrade has done a lot of work on its HYCU since it first started discussing the software, and now has a simple offering for Nutanix environments, said Rick Gouin, chief technology officer at Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and Nutanix and Comtrade partner.

Winslow has already downloaded HYCU and started testing it, and found a number of things that should resonate well with Nutanix customers, Gouin told CRN.

"It leverages the Nutanix APIs, and should work across all the hypervisors that run on the Nutanix platform," he said. "So over the long-term, customers will have a common tool for multiple hypervisors in the Nutanix space. Also, HYCU looks a lot like Nutanix. Its web interface uses Nutanix terminology, and provides a consistent touch and feel."

HYCU is also unique in that it can tell users what is running inside the guest virtual machines on the Nutanix appliances, Gouin said. "You might think you have five instances of PeopleSoft but really have seven," he said. "This is a very common problem."

HYCU is priced on a per-socket basis at $1,500 per socket for standard Nutanix nodes and $999 per socket for Nutanix's express nodes, Sundaram said.

Comtrade sales are focused 100 percent on the channel, and the company is looking to align closely with Nutanix's channel partners, he said.