Microsoft eyes backup market

By Sonia R. Lelii

Microsoft this week signaled its intent to jump further into the storage market with the announcement of a continuous disk-based backup-and-recovery product. However, its Data Protection Server (DPS) will not be available until at least the second half of 2005.

The application will work only on Windows servers and will take advantage of features such as Active Directory service, Windows Storage Server 2003, and the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) API to enable continuous snapshots of data on open files.

More than 20 vendors announced support for DPS (see below for vendor listing). Conspicuously absent from the list was Veritas Software, the leader in the backup-and-recovery market.

During a separate media briefing, held after Microsoft's announcement, Veritas executives said they were invited to be part of the announcement but they declined. "Our decision was based on the reality that this is not so much a product announcement but a product direction. Clearly, this [will be] an entry into a space we are a leader in," said Bob Maness, senior director of product marketing at Veritas. "We didn't feel, at this time, that we wanted to participate in something that won't be available for another year."

Nancy Hurley, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, says the DPS product does full replication of data when it is initially installed, through agents that are sent out to each Windows server to be protected. Thereafter, the software does continuous snapshot replications of only the bytes that have changed. Hurley describes DPS as more of a data replication product than a backup tool in the traditional sense.

DPS will enable users to directly recover data themselves instead of relying on storage administrators, which is one of the points Microsoft executives highlighted about the product. "There will be a level of transparency, so administrators could allow end users to do their own recovery," Hurley explains.

Microsoft officials claimed that DPS provides three key capabilities:
--Rapid recovery via disk-based backup/recovery;
--Continuous data protection, without impacting applications; and
--Integration with tape through an interface that is based on the VSS API.

Vendors that announced support for Microsoft's DPS include CommVault, Computer Associates, Dantz, Dell, Dot Hill, EMC, Engenio Information Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, Intel, Iomega, LeftHand Networks, LiveVault, NEC, NSI Software, QLogic, Quantum, Quest Software, Seagate, StorageTek, Sun, and Yosemite Technologies.

This article was originally published on September 22, 2004