Asigra reels in remote data

By Heidi Biggar

Making sure that data generated at remote locations is properly backed up can be problematic for many enterprises, especially those with multiple, distributed sites and little to no IT support to leverage.

The problem is that traditional backup software is designed for backing up single sites and not distributed data islands, according to Eran Farajun, executive vice president at Asigra, an 18-year-old provider of backup-and-recovery software for distributed sites.

Last month, Toronto-based Asigra re-branded its Televaulting software for the enterprise. The product, which was previously available only to storage service providers, is now targeted at enterprise customers.

Farajun says that the company's decision to offer a stand-alone software product, separate from its bread-and-butter service offering, was prompted by a growing business problem (i.e., how to back up distributed data islands) and an untapped market opportunity in the enterprise.

Rather than using scaled-down versions of traditional tape-based backup applications at remote locations, users can install a single copy of Asigra's DS-Client software on a Windows or Linux server at each remote location and a single copy of DS-System vault software on a Windows, Linux, or Solaris server at the primary data center (see figure).

With Televaulting software, users install a single copy of DS-Client software at each remote location and a single copy of DS-System vault software on a server at the primary data center.
Click here to enlarge image

Data from remote locations can be backed up nightly over an IP WAN to the primary backup server, and then backed up to tape or disk using traditional backup software on, say, a weekly basis. The backup process is managed from the primary data center; no technology support is needed at the remote sites.

Fisher & Phillips LLP, a national law firm, is using Asigra's Televaulting for Enterprise software to streamline the backup process at its 12 remote offices. The firm is backing up each of its remote sites (over T1 lines) to a single database at its primary data center each night. The database is then backed up to tape on a weekly basis using Veritas' Backup Exec software.

Previously, the law firm used Backup Exec to back up each site to tape nightly—a process that not only involved multiple tape systems, but also relied on office managers to handle the tapes on a daily basis, says Jim Miskovsky, director of IT at Fisher & Phillips.

While Fisher & Phillips has seen some cost savings from its Asigra installation (most are "soft" and therefore hard to identify), Miskovsky says that the primary benefit is peace of mind about its backup process. "It assures me that all our backups are being done properly. I know where they are [being stored] and I know that they were done properly," says Miskovsky.

The Televaulting software analyzes all data at the remote locations, finds new and changed file blocks, eliminates duplicate files, and compresses the data before it is transmitted to the primary data center.

"We minimize the amount of data that needs to be backed up," says Farajun. In the case of Fisher & Phillips, the Televaulting software was reportedly able to compress 1.5TB of data to 500GB. Farajun says users can expect to see a 4:1 compression ratio on average.

The software supports a variety of operating systems (Windows, NetWare, Unix, Linux, AS/400, and OSx) and file systems (hierarchical storage management, traditional, and shared). The Televaulting software also includes optional tools for discovery, local restore, and SLA monitoring and can be integrated with management frameworks such as HP OpenView and a variety of other storage management applications.

A "lite" version is available for laptop users, which allows applications to keep running while backups are in process.

Asigra claims that its agent-less architecture and its pricing model (which is based on aggregate compressed capacity) distinguishes its software from competing products. The software is priced at $56,000 for the first terabyte of capacity (available in 200GB increments) and $7,500 for each terabyte thereafter.

"It was the agent-less architecture that was the biggest differentiator—and the fact that there was no cost for agents," says Fisher & Phillips' Miskovsky. The law firm also evaluated products from both CommVault and e-Comm Technologies but neither was agent-less, according to Miskovsky.

"The software must be complete and robust because it has survived for so many years in service-provider environments," according to Dianne McAdam, a senior analyst and partner at the Data Mobility Group consulting firm.

This article was originally published on September 01, 2004