Pancetera Looks to Cut the Hassle Out of Virtual Machine Backup

When disaster strikes, how long will it take you to recover your virtual machines? With its flagship offering, Pancetera Unite, a virtual appliance, the company aims to remove the mystery and complexities surrounding virtual machine backup.

It's a question every IT shop dabbling in virtualization must be able to address, and Pancetera thinks it has a good answer.

Pancetera's flagship product is its Unite virtual appliance. The company describes Unite, currently in version 2.2, as "the only product on the market today that can minimize I/O workloads and streamline performance across every aspect of virtualized environments."

The key to Pancetera's approach is simplicity. Unite offers a single-user interface that enables IT pros to manage the whole of a sprawling virtualization infrastructure, sharply reducing I/O and increasing network speed.

"Pancetera's virtual software appliances provide organizations with a simpler and faster way to protect their virtual machines," Pancetera CEO Henrik Rosandah told Server Watch. "Unlike competitive solutions that require proxy or staging servers to backup virtual data and multi-step -- read: time-consuming -- processes to recover the same data, Pancetera's solutions can either stand alone and utilize any NAS target device to send the virtual data directly to or they can be integrated as an extension of existing data protection solutions."

Pancetera's SmartView technology makes accessing virtual storage a process similar to accessing a network drive, covering SAN, NFS and DAS storage over multiple hypervisors. The product automatically detects new virtual machines to ensure all changes are backed up. The discovery engine identifies active and inactive virtual machines, as well as unused disks, snapshots and other files.

Then the SmartRead virtual disk technology promises to dramatically reduce the I/O load up to 80 percent by eliminating all unnecessary disk I/O, enabling virtual machines to move over the network 10 times faster than other solutions. The resulting efficiencies allow for virtual machine backup over a WAN.

Additionally, Pancetera Unite, when installed on a secondary host, enables users to offload from servers to ensure I/O tasks do not interfere with production workloads.

"Companies are not looking to add new backup products to their environment; they want to stay in compliance and not introduce additional failure points. They are looking to reduce the amount of time their systems are down, not increase them," Rosandah said. "This is what puzzles us about the existing solutions on the market -- they actually increase the downtime in virtual environments while IT searches for their data."

Pancetera Unite is managed and monitored through VMware's vCenter, but Rosandah said that the company is looking to expand its offering to support other virtualization vendors.

"Expanding beyond just VMware is one of the other areas that you will see us announce soon as well -- bringing these capabilities onto other hypervisors," he said.

On its website, Pancetera maintains an ROI calculator, where curious IT professionals can submit information about their virtualized environment, such as the number of virtual machines, how many run in parallel and their average size. The firm then runs the numbers to present a side-by-side comparison of the recovery time with and without Pancetera's image-level backup.

Most recently, Pancetera rolled out SmartMotion, a stand-alone virtual appliance that promises to slash the backup and recovery time of virtual machines by at least half. The product claims to eliminate the need for staging servers in replicating virtual machines to any NAS target, whether housed locally or stored in the cloud.

Pancetera was founded in 2008, and it has received venture funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Onset Ventures. The company's founders are veterans of Thinstall, which VMware acquired, and Data Domain and Legato, which were both snapped up by EMC.

Pancetera sells directly and through OEMs. Rosandah said the company is beginning to build out its VAR/reseller channel.

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This article was originally published on May 3, 2011
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