By Ann Silverthorn
FilesX recently announced a continuous data protection (CDP) On-Demand feature through its Xpress Restore disk-based backup/recovery software. Xpress Restore uses “CDP on Demand” as the backup engine. The software is Windows-based and provides integration with Exchange and SQL Server.
The CDP feature of Xpress Restore allows users to determine levels of protection on an application-by-application basis. Xpress Restore records every change at the block level and then takes application-consistent snapshots with unlimited frequency as determined by administrators. Although it can take unlimited snapshots-as opposed to Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager, which can take up to 64 snapshots per day-users can decide which applications warrant more-frequent snapshots. FilesX officials advise comparing the critical nature of the data to the resulting impact on performance and the amount of storage space required.
For example, Aircast, a manufacturer of ankle braces, cuffs, and other devices for the treatment of injuries, decided that two-hour snapshot intervals were enough when it purchased Xpress Restore. When a virus debilitated the system early this year, Aircast administrators were able to use the most recent snapshot for recovery and only lost seven minutes’ worth of data.
Xpress Restore does an initial full backup of the written data and then uses “Incremental Forever” technology to move just the data that has changed. Still, the more frequently the user sets the backups, the more disk space is needed. FilesX officials also recommend that users run Xpress Restore on its own server with no other applications.
Investing in CDP is futile without the ability to restore the data quickly. According to Frank Jablonski, director of marketing at FilesX, Xpress Restore provides the ability to restart an application from the copy that’s in its repository. “From the users’ perspective, they’re up and running immediately. If the application needs to read data, it pulls it out of the repository. If it needs to write data, it writes to the production drive, and in the background the software manages the process of copying the data back to the production drive. So instead of having to wait the time it takes to copy 50GB of data back across the network, users are up and running immediately,” says Jablonski.
The software can restore volumes and do bare-metal recovery, and if an individual file needs to be restored, the software offers a CIFS interface (similar to Windows Explorer) to select a particular file from the snapshot.
Most analysts would describe Xpress Restore as “near CDP.” “We don’t do every-transaction-rollback like Mendocino, Revivio, and TimeSpring do,” says Jablonski, “but those vendors’ products are at a much higher price point. We also have application integration that Microsoft and Veritas do not.” The entry-level price tag for Xpress Restore is about $10,000.
For more information on CDP options, see “Evaluating continuous data protection,” by the Data Mobility Group’s Dianne McAdam (InfoStor, October 2005, p. 32).