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Continuous data protection finds supporters

Continuous data protection finds supporters

Demand for continuous data protection is growing as more businesses realize they not only need to back up the data on their networks as changes are made but also be able to recover that data quickly. Nearly every storage vendor has acknowledged developing a continuous or near-continuous data protection scheme for retrieving even the most recently saved data.

"All the offerings share the common good of dramatically improving recovery point objectives vs. traditional nightly full or incremental backups," says Steve Duplessie, senior analyst and founder of Enterprise Strategy Group. "Continuous data protection vs. near-CDP might mean the difference between recovery points of 1 second or 1 hour. Either is much better than what we do today."

At the Storage Decisions conference in New York Sept. 26, Microsoft is expected to announce the availability of its System Data Protection Manager (DPM) software, which installs on Windows Server 2003 and performs a series of snapshots of data that can be recovered by end users. It will be priced at US$950.

A variety of Microsoft partners are set to announce they will market DPM appliances or integrate their software with DPM.

Among those vendors are EqualLogic, which will support Microsoft DPM with its PS Series family of iSCSI-based storage arrays; and Commvault, which will integrate DPM with its Qinetix data management software. Also on stage with Microsoft will be Dell, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Computer Associates and HP, which recently unveiled the ProLiant DL 380 G4 Data Protection Storage Server.

Quantum also is reported to be releasing a DPM appliance that is integrated into its DX Series disk-to-disk products. Storactive is set to announce a new version of its LiveBackup software for protecting desktop and laptop data. And Fujitsu Siemens, Europe's largest computer maker, recently said it would soon introduce a preconfigured appliance based on its FibreCAT hardware and on DPM.

Mendocino Software also is expected to announce its RecoveryOne software at Storage Decisions. RecoveryOne is installed on an industry-standard server of a customer's choosing and continuously backs up all network data - both file and block - and recovers that data from any point in time.

Microsoft and Mendocino join Revivio, one of the first companies to bring a CDP product to market. Revivio, which is funded by Charles River Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners, this week bolstered its product line with the introduction of the CPS1200i, a low-end appliance for departments and workgroups.

Revivio also introduced a data replication module, which enables instant recovery at two or more locations. The module supports synchronous or asynchronous and unidirectional or bidirectional replication.

CDP products, such as those from Mimosa Systems and Xosoft, save every change to data as it is made and let administrators or users recover files and other data such as e-mail from any point in time.

Near-CDP products do not have the detail of CDP. They take snapshots of data at specified points in time and only allow customers to retrieve data from those times, not from seconds or even hours ago.

Veritas is working on a near-continuous product code-named Panther; Network Appliance acquired Alacritus, a start-up with CDP software called Chronospan; and IBM recently announced a near-CDP product called IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files. Sources say EMC also is developing a CDP appliance based on its Clariion storage servers that uses software from Mendocino to back up and recover file- and block-based data.

"I suspect you'll see EMC come forward with an enterprise-caliber true CDP offering this fall," Duplessie says.

Don Carlos, director of information services and technology for United Teachers Los Angeles, a teacher's union, implemented Mimosa's Nearpoint for Exchange to back up e-mail.

"Previously, we would have to back up the whole database and then back up each mailbox individually so that we were capable of restoring a person's individual mailbox rather than the whole Exchange server," Carlos says. "When we would come in in the morning the backup would still be running, taking some 15 to 20 hours a day. With Mimosa, the mailboxes are being backed up in real time and users can get the e-mail back themselves." Carlos has only two other IT people working with him.

The ability to self-service e-mail recovery is an important feature, Carlos says.

"I don't have enough IT people to support recovering e-mails for individuals, but with Mimosa I can, because individuals can recover any e-mail they want," he says.

Microsoft's System Data Protection Manager, Veritas' upcoming Panther, Storactive's LiveServe and Mimosa's NearPoint for Exchange integrate the self-recovery of data into their offerings. Gartner says the recovery landscape in 2008 to 2010 will shift to self-service, in which users can recover their own data, which many, such as Carlos, prefer to do.


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