Microsoft sets sights on disk-to-disk backup

Microsoft sets sights on disk-to-disk backup

Microsoft has detailed plans to sell a disk-to-disk backup application designed to consolidate Windows server backups and cut the time needed to recover data when a server goes down. The move positions it against industry stalwarts such as Veritas Software and EMC's Legato division.

At the Storage Decisions conference here in Chicago, Microsoft said its new Data Protection Server wouild be in beta test with customers in the first quarter of 2005 and generally available in the second half of the year.

Microsoft has already signed up more than 20 storage partners, including EMC, IBM, Dell and HP to resell the new backup application.

"About 70 per cent of backup cost is labour. That's what we're addressing," a senior director at Microsoft, Jeff Price, said. "Data Protection Server looks the same as any Windows server."

Users gave the product mixed reviews. Some said they would consider a disk-to-disk backup product from Microsoft because it would be easier to integrate with their existing Microsoft server platforms and would require little or no training to use and because they want to migrate away from tape-based backups in general. Others said proven storage backup vendors such as Network Appliance have far more mature products. Therefore something new, even from Microsoft, could be a hard sell.

Data Protection Server is built on top of Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2004 and Active Directory service, which automatically discovers file servers and then places agents on them that kick off backups to disk based on preset policies.

An analyst at Enterprise Strategy, Nancy Hurley, said Microsoft was late to the table for enterprise class disk-to-disk backup, but Data Protection Server had value as a lower-end product for remote workgroups as a way of consolidating backups to a single disk appliance.

"They say they're not competing with Legato or Veritas, but they are," Hurley said. "They want to make Windows the platform for storage."

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