Cobalt Iron strengthens NAS backup with enhancements to their Compass NAS Protector

The big one for many users will likely be the full integration of NAS with other backup types, which will save time and money on administration costs.

Cobalt Iron is a SaaS provider of enterprise data protection, with their SaaS based approach to the enterprise backup market unique until recent years, when some other enterprise vendors decided to join the party. Among a series of enhancements to their Compass platform, they have announced some significant upgrades to their Compass NAS Protector. While Cobalt Iron has always supported NAS, it now integrates it fully with other storage types, so it no longer has to be handled separately.

“We still see ourselves as having a true differentiation around what we call the 4s’s – security, scalability, simplicity and SaaS,” said Andy Hurt, Cobalt Iron’s CMO. “We have some very unique architecture, including moving from Zero Trust beyond to what we call Zero Access. We are infinitely scalable. We also optimize and automate about 98% of what is traditionally done by a backup admin.”

Andy Hurt, Cobalt Iron’s CMO

“We also do these operational tasks for much more than the backup software component,” said Greg Tevis, VP of Strategy at Cobalt Iron. “We cover all aspects of the backup system – the server, backup network, backup storage and the software. All the  hardware and software components that would have to be done for every product are all now automated by software.”

Tevis explained what Zero Access is and how it differentiates Cobalt Iron.

“The automation of operations and backup data being automated by software, with no log-ins for any components is what we call Zero Access,” he said. “It goes beyond validating with Zero Trust, and is a completely different approach. There are no user IDs for these backups at all. You don’t get into any of those. It brings simplicity and extreme security, with zero access to any hardware and software.”

In the event that there is a hardware failure to something like a server, there is planned contingency support for that.

“Things can be pulled back by software if there are issues, which are scenario- dependent like if a server fails,” Tevis said. There is worldwide support for those hardware failures.

“We have Zero Trust but that’s not for managing backup infrastructure,” Tevis added.

“Our architectural differentiations have been there for 11 years, and are reflected in the simplicity around SaaS scalability and delivery,” he said.

The unique features start with Cobalt Commander, which handles all operations, from control to visibility, through a single interface that can be used by non-technical users.

“With Commander, you cannot go and reconfigure or destroy backup data in the vault,” Tevis indicated. “That’s one of the unique architectural components.”

Greg Tevis, VP of Strategy at Cobalt Iron

Another one is the Compass Analytics engine, which uses metadata to define specific configurations for each customer on their Accelerator Analytics Vault,” he added. “The data for each customer never leaves the vault, It is the metadata that comes out to the engine – not customer data.”

Any new enhancements come with the base service. There are only a couple optional features like a virtual tape library which cost extra

In the last 12 months, Cobalt Iron created Compass Cirrus, an out-of-the-cloud offering aimed at the sub-50 TB market.

“It’s a turnkey solution where they don’t even need to deploy an accelerator,” Tevis said. This competes in the BaaS [Backup as-a-Service] market.

The new NAS announcement around Compass NAS Protector improves an existing product.

“It is an enhancement, but it is a significant enhancement,” Hurt said.

“We have always covered NAS very well, but the market for NAS protection generally has become somewhat stale,” Tevis said. These include file-level backup, where it really slows down in large NAS environments, NAS replication  and Network Data Management Protocol [NDMP] backup, with both of the latter two limiting operational flexibility and adding to costs.

“NAS has also been managed separate from the rest of the backup environment,” he continued. “NAS has always been handled as a one-off. Now it has been simplified because it’s all part of the same backup process. That allows us to apply mature Compass data reduction techniques on the NAS data, which was not possible before.”

New proprietary scanning capabilities have also been added around data movement and high performance parallel data scanning.

“Our scanning is a combination of techniques which are novel,” Tevis said. “We  are seeing very significant acceleration of scanning times, identifying what files are new and changed, and enabling recovery flexibility, with policy level service levels including NAS now at the file and object level.”

Data governance has also been enhanced.

“Our Compass platform has very sophisticated compliance capabilities, including new decommissioning and data deletion capabilities,” Tevis indicated. “We have also been active in innovation, including new patents around IT optimization, cyber security responsiveness, dynamic authentication to change who has access, cyberinspection, health remediation, and cloud brokering.”

Tevis said that Cobalt Iron’s business has really taken off since the COVID panic fell off, with many new large deals.

“We’ve had a tremendous response in the last week, particularly by some organizations with large deployments with a need for automated data migration. We’ve invested heavily in this, identifying data needed for long term retention.”