Signiant takes on remote data

By Heidi Biggar

Signiant, a provider of software and services for remote data protection, this week announced several enhancements, including a new release of its flagship Mobilize platform and a suite of remote data management products that can be layered on top of the platform to improve remote backup.

The general problem is that there is too much data at remote locations, explains Randy Corke, vice president of marketing at Signiant. "Users don't know what data is out there and they don't know whether it's being protected or not," he says.

Analysts estimate that 60% of all enterprise data resides outside the data center, either on remote networks in branch offices or on distributed systems within the same campus. And 75% of this data is believed to be unprotected and unmanaged, according to In-Focus/Strategic Research.

Mobilize Version 5 sports a new graphical user interface that makes it easier for users to automate remote data movement and management processes based on rules-based policies. The company also claims to have increased data throughput by up to 400% over high-latency networks.

The company is also developing a suite of products that integrate with the Mobilize platform to address specific customer pain points, starting with backup and archival.
The new suite helps users address the basic problem of having too much remote data to manage, explains Corke.

"Signiant has put together a powerful yet simple tool for remote data protection that isn't invasive, is network-centric, and is policy-driven," says Pete Gerr, an analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group consulting firm.

First-round products, which focus on backup and archival, include Remote Data Inventory, Remote Data Archive, and Consolidated Backup.

Remote Data Inventory collects information about remote data--how much there is, where it resides, who created it, how old it is, how much disk space it is consuming, etc. Administrators can use this information to set rules-based policies for backup and archival.

Remote Data Archive (if installed) then scans the remote data and moves any data that meets user-defined criteria to a central archive. Data movement is automatic and transparent to users, although users can expect a few-second delay in retrieving files from the central location (the actual delay depends on where the data is archived--on disk or tape).

Finally, the Consolidated Backup feature is used to back up data at remote locations to a central site. Signiant claims that this type of consolidated backup approach can potentially reduce overall backup costs by up to 75%. The savings comes from not having to maintain redundant backup hardware and software, tape at each office, and off-site storage processes.

The host-based software components can be purchased separately or as a package. Mobilizer Agents (which are less than 10MB in size) run on Unix, Linux, or Windows servers; a Mobilizer Manager (which provides the central control) must also be installed in the network. A second, or standby, Mobilizer Manager can be added for redundancy. According to the company, a typical installation with 15 sites costs $2,000 to $3,000 per server.

EMC, which has been a partner of Signiant's since December 2002, resells the Mobilize platform under the EMC OnCourse label.

Signiant was spun out of Nortel Networks in August 2000.

This article was originally published on May 12, 2004