Datto is a backup appliance that uses commodity hardware and their version of a special software to do disk to disk backups and replicate to the cloud.
The particular appliance I am using is an SL2000. It actually is a SuperMicro 2U case w/ MSI motherboard. It uses the mother board's on board SATA controller plus a PCI-E Adaptec SATA card to control four 1tb SATA drives for storage and another 500gb SATA drive for the operating system. Yes that is correct, the operating system is on a single non-RAID SATA drive.
Technical support was unable to tell me if the settings could be exported and imported, incase of a drive failure. They could not also verify, if the OS drive gets replaced, will the old backup jobs get seen, or will all backups start from scratch.
Under the covers this machine runs Ubuntu Linux. Although one doesn't need to know any about Linux to use it. Controlling all things backup is done right on the appliance using a web interface or browing to the appliance's IP address from another computer. AlsoVNC is also preinstalled and preconfigured for remote access. No extra software to install. What also is cool that if one types in http://device.dattobackup.com on the LAN it automatically comes up! The machines getting backed up get a small agent; there is no Linux support as of yet.
The software that does all the heavy lifting is called Shadow Craft. Most of the backup is actually yet another re-written version of Microsoft's Volume Shadow Services.
The HIGHER end models have Virtual Box installed on them and one can the backup as a VM. The backup files are actually stored as VMDK's so running them as a VM is quick and painless. One also has the option of running a backup as a VM is a private VLAN/test environment for testing or pulling out individual files.
One of the advantages to this style backup is that one has backups on site. One thing that most people forget about when backing up to the cloud is recovery. If one has 400gb of data in the cloud that they need to restore, does one really want to wait for that stuff to download? This way one has 1gbps access to the data. Datto includes cloud storage; the device replicates to Datto's Data Center (say that three times fast); which gets a COPY of the data off site. The replication can be throttled as to not swap the internet connection; it cannot be sheduled.
The initial synchronization to the cloud is done via a USB drive that Datto sends you w/ a prepaid FedEx shipping label. Although one has to order the drive, it doesn't just come automatically.
Currently this client is backing up three remote locations over a VPN to a central site. Thus far none of the backups will achieve over 0.23mbps, despite having a 24mbps down and 5mbps up connection rate. The backups can be scheduled; in this case they are scheduled for only after business hours (again to not swap the Internet connection, however they cannot be throttled). Unfortunately, if the backup job continues to run until it is complete. Which means if the job doesn't finish it will run into business hours and the end users ask: "why is everything so slow".... I don't understand why they don't have a backup window like Backup Exec has had for over 7 years!?!
Backups are incrementals. They maximum time between backups is one hour during the allowable window. So in this case from 10pm until 7am is the window, so there will be 9 incremental backups. Assuming there is a full backup already done. The Datto automatically takes care of rolling the incrementals into a full backup weekly; very slick!
-super easy to setup
-backups don't get much simpler
-disaster recovery becomes a snap
-its over simplification removes doing any advanced options and tweaking.
-this particular case is rather cheap and the cover doesn't fit right
-potential weak point in having a single drive housing the OS
-too many unknowns about configuration & retaining backup jobs in event of an OS crash
-software based RAID can be fragile and a bottle neck for speed
-if a backup job fails it starts over from the beginning.
-it appears to be file level and not block level backup