By Heidi Biggar
To date, little attention has been paid to the recovery side of the backup-and-restore equation. But Southborough, MA, start-up FilesX is hoping to change that. The company joins a growing list of vendors intent on improving the way users restore data, in part via disk-based recovery techniques.
"We're trying to fill in a gap in the industry for users that want better and more frequent access to backed up data [but don't want to invest in expensive tools and storage resources]," says Brian Householder, director of product marketing at FilesX.
Analysts estimate that 30% to 60% of all backups are not recoverable when needed. When you consider the associated costs of downtime (which can range in the thousands to millions of dollars), the ability to recover data quickly and reliably can have significant business consequences.
A sense of immediacy has been brought to the issue as a result of a variety of new federal and state regulations, most notably the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and SEC rule 17a-4(t), that dictate rules for storing and archiving various types of data. (For more information, see "End users prepare for the next data deluge," InfoStor, March 2003, p. 1.)
"It's not about backup anymore; it's about restore," says Householder. "And more than that, it's about being able to provide multiple types of restores [e.g., volumes, files, and applications] in an automated way."
FilesX's Xpress Restore is a combination snapshot and restore software product. The On-line Data Snap capability—a "poor man's TimeFinder"—takes an initial baseline copy of data and then block-level incremental snapshots thereafter. It is hardware-independent.
The Unified Restore feature—the real crux of the product—maps blocks to both files and application data. This means end users can perform application-, file-, or volume-level restores from a single image. "Restores aren't 'one-size-fits-all,' so we provide multiple types of restores, and administrators can use familiar tools," says Householder.
To restore Microsoft Exchange, for example, administrators can use the familiar click, drag, and drop method. File-level restores are done using standard CIFS or NFS tools through Windows Explorer, while volume restores are done through mounting a virtual volume or Java console.
Xpress Restore supports all major file systems, Unix and Windows, and SAN and DAS architectures. It is a pure software play that can be integrated with existing disk-based storage devices and backup environments.
FilesX claims that Xpress Restore can reduce restore times to minutes. The company positions the software between expensive mirroring solutions from large vendors and traditional tape-based backup/restore approaches.
The initial target application is Microsoft Exchange, with support for Oracle and SQL Server due in a future release.
Other players in this space include Revivio and Vyant Technologies.