IBM delivers file-based CDP

By Ann Silverthorn

IBM recently made its first foray into the continuous data protection (CDP) market with the release of IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files software, which was known as VitalFile in the beta program. The real-time backup software can scale from corporate file servers to departmental remote offices and down to desktops and laptops, although it is designed primarily for backing up remote/mobile users’ laptops.

“Tivoli CDP can protect many different file types, including Word documents, and it’s very easy to use and very easy to restore a file that has been, say, accidentally deleted,” says Dianne McAdam, a senior analyst and partner with the Data Mobility Group consulting firm that has demo’d the software. “It also makes it easy for business travelers to restore files if they lose their laptops.” But McAdam notes that IBM’s CDP software doesn’t protect block-based data such as database transactions.

IBM claims that when working together with enterprise disaster-recovery software, such as Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), the CDP for Files software protects files by automatically making copies of data locally or across the network. “It’s a blend of replication, traditional backup, and CDP,” says Chris Stakutis, CTO of Tivoli CDP for Files. “The product is file-based, which is a good place to start with CDP since the digital assets that most people want to protect are file-based assets.”

While a file is being written to, Tivoli CDP for Files makes a copy on the local machine, catalogs it, and copies the file so it can be restored later if the need arises.

Kami Snyder, marketing manager for Tivoli’s storage products and ILM strategy, says: “Every time I hit ‘save’ on my laptop, or every time a file is saved to a server, it’s protected at that moment. I don’t have to wait for the next scheduled snapshot or the next scheduled backup to tape.”

Of course, an employee working remotely on a laptop with no access to the network is protected only with the cache that CDP for Files creates on the laptop itself. The next time the laptop is connected to the network, synchronization takes place. The most obvious competitor IBM faces is Microsoft with its Data Protection Manager (DPM) “near-CDP” (frequent snapshots) product. Both products cost about $1,000 each. IBM will also compete to a degree with Symantec’s upcoming “Panther” CDP product, as well as with smaller vendors such as InMage, Kashya, Lasso Logic, Mendocino Software, Mimosa Systems, Nexsan, Revivio, Storactive, TimeSpring, and XOsoft. However, many of the products from those vendors include more functionality than IBM’s CDP software, and some are also tightly integrated with specific applications such as Microsoft’s SQL Server, Exchange, and/or Outlook.

IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files is priced at $35 per laptop or desktop, and $995 per server processor.

This article was originally published on October 01, 2005