I recently completed a hands-on training on Avamar management and was impressed by its deduplication technology. Deduplication happens at the client side which means less bandwidth consumed on the network and less space used for storage. Backup jobs run very fast, especially the subsequent backups after the initial baseline backup.
The Avamar disk-based backup appliance is based on Linux operating system, thus its Command Line Interface (CLI) commands are excellent. Its Redundant Array of Independent Nodes or RAIN architecture provides failover and fault tolerance across its storage nodes. It can also integrate with Data Domain as its backend storage nodes. It has an intensive support for VMware and NAS appliances via the NDMP accelerator device. Avamar servers can be replicated to other Avamar servers located at a disaster recovery site. The management GUI is intuitive for the most part and it’s very easy to do backup and restore.
However, I also found several shortcomings that I think could improve the product. First, the management GUI does not have an integrated tool to push the agent software to the clients. If you have hundreds of clients, you need to rely on third party tools such as Microsoft SMS to push the agent software. Second, there is no integrated management GUI. You have to run several tools to perform management tasks – the Avamar Administrator Console, Avamar Client Manager, Enterprise Manager, and Backup Recovery Manager. Third, there is no extensive support for Bare Metal Restore (BMR). Only Windows 2008 and later are supported for BMR. Finally, the system requires a daily maintenance window to perform its HFS checks and other tasks, during which very few backup jobs are allowed to run. This should not be a big deal though since a short backup window is usually enough to finish backup jobs because as I mentioned earlier, backups run very fast.
Overall, I consider Avamar coupled with the Data Domain appliance as the leading backup solution out there.