Quorum is a backup and recovery solution for physical and virtual server environments. Instead of just storing backup data, the onQ appliance maintains a clone of critical VMs in a ready-to-run state, along with the compute resources required to support those backed up VMs. With a single appliance, companies can get near-instant availability for applications running on multiple hosts in a local data center. With a second appliance in a remote location, they can get disaster recovery protection too.
Quorum also offers DR-as-a-Service, maintaining backed up VMs in their cloud as a remote, on-demand recovery alternative to a company’s own DR site. Quorum calls these three options “unified recovery”:
The onQ appliance is a 2U server chassis with up to 24 CPU cores, 768GB DRAM, 72TB of storage (raw) and 400GB of NVMe flash cache. Based on published information this recovery solution has enough resources and horsepower to support up to 40 servers. Quorum can now cluster onQ appliances, using an embedded virtual SAN software, to create a scale-out recovery solution for larger on-site environments. This is actually the same technology running in Quorum’s DR-as-a-Service cloud.
Quorum software controls the backup process, making a full copy of VMs initially (doing a physical-to-virtual conversion for bare metal servers) and then updating those by applying incremental changes with successive backups. When the primary VM fails Quorum can do a ‘one-click restore’, restarting it on the onQ appliance, local or remote, in a few minutes. Quorum automatically tests VMs after each backup to confirm they will restart when needed and provides data-in-place and in-flight encryption.
Quorum Labs was established almost a decade ago to create a high availability solution for critical Department of Defense systems. They have developed some unique technology, but one could build a dedicated infrastructure in-house to deliver much of what onQ does.
There are other ways to recover backed up virtual machines, like standing up a dedicated server host as a backup storage target. Most backup software solutions have some kind of mechanism to enable the restart of VMs from their storage locations, which can support these VMs indefinitely, provided the resources are available. This begs the question why one needs a recovery appliance.
It seems Quorum is banking on the completeness of their solution and the appliance concept itself, the value of a turnkey solution over one that requires some level of design and implementation expertise. The success of this concept is on display with hyperconverged solutions that provide a simple way to implement a complex compute infrastructure.
But in addition to simplification, Quorum is selling assurance that the recovery solution will be successful down the road. In short they’re guaranteeing that the recovery will work when it’s needed.
They’re also saying that companies should question whether the do-it-yourself approach is appropriate for critical systems. Like a parachute, an HA or DR solution provides protection against an unacceptable event, and must work first time, every time. In that context, one could say Quorum is asking if sewing your own parachute is a wise decision.