EMC 'validates' CDP

By Ann Silverthorn

—At the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando this week, EMC will introduce an information protection strategy with a trio of products that form the company's new recovery management software portfolio. At the forefront of the announcements is EMC's first foray into continuous data protection (CDP). Joining the lineup are Backup Advisor monitoring/reporting software and enhancements to Legato NetWorker that will include integration with the CDP software.

According to analysts, EMC's entry into CDP "validates" the technology and may boost the overall market—a good sign for the slew of start-ups in the CDP space despite the increased competition.

For its RecoverPoint CDP play, EMC licensed start-up Mendocino Software's CDP technology and customized it with EMC technology. Ron Emsley, director of product marketing in EMC's software group, claims that RecoverPoint differs from Mendocino's RecoveryOne from both a management and interaction-with-applications perspective.

(Hewlett-Packard also announced an OEM deal with Mendocino this month. However, it won't be until phase three of the product rollout that HP will fully integrate the technology with its own products. Phases one and two involve reselling the software under the Mendocino brand and then branding it as an HP product.)

Integrated vs. stand-alone
Taking the approach of an integrated data-protection strategy rather than a standalone CDP solution will help users recover data more effectively, according to EMC's Emsley. He says that RecoverPoint is an integral part of EMC's overall software portfolio, array technology, and replication technology.

Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner with the Data Mobility Group consulting firm, believes that comprehensive approaches such as EMC's may make more sense than stand-alone CDP approaches. "One form of data protection is not enough, because users have applications with different requirements," she says. "CDP is a great data-protection architecture for mission-critical, highly active, frequently updated applications, [but] for traditional applications like payroll restoring from virtual tape or tape libraries might be more appropriate. Data protection should be a multi-tiered strategy."

McAdam says EMC's differentiators against some of its competitors are a true (as opposed to "near") CDP offering and a solution that is designed for larger enterprises. She also believes EMC's product is more scalable and can handle large processing requirements.

Any point or significant point
According to EMC's Emsley, RecoverPoint differs from recently announced CDP products that target Windows environments and/or file-level recovery. RecoverPoint currently supports Windows 2003 and Solaris, with support for Windows 2000, Linux, IBM AIX, and HP-UX to follow in subsequent releases. As opposed to file-based CDP approaches, RecoverPoint takes a block-based approach.

File-based CDP vendors include IBM (see IBM delivers file-based CDP), Symantec (see Symantec joins growing CDP field), Lasso Logic, Mimosa Systems, StoneFly Networks, Storactive, TimeSpring, and XOsoft. Examples of block-based CDP vendors include FalconStor, InMage, Kashya, LiveVault, Mendocino, and Revivio.

With EMC's RecoverPoint, administrators can choose a recovery point up to the instant prior to corruption, or they can select from a prior, verified set of consistent points in time. Administrators define a protection window, say three to five days, and then they can roll back the environment to any point in time in that window.

Emsley says that some start-ups have introduced CDP claiming that the any-point- in-time (APIT) approach is all that users need. "The problem is if you have no application consistency and no ability to ensure that the application relying on the data can actually recover from that point in time, you have no better than a crash-consistent copy," he says. "So, in addition to any point in time, we layer application consistency so users know that when they recover from that specific point the application will always be able to restart." Examples of specific points include a checkpoint before or after the user applies a patch or at a quarterly close." (RecoverPoint currently supports Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, with support for Exchange Server and IBM's DB2 due in subsequent versions.)

Subsequent releases of RecoverPoint will also integrate directly into EMC Legato NetWorker software. With the first release of RecoverPoint, EMC will provide integration with custom scripting through its partners, but in the first half of 2006 EMC will provide deep integration into the NetWorker management interfaces, according to Emsley.

NetWorker enhancements
Enhancements to Legato NetWorker announced at the Storage Networking World conference address performance, ease of use, and security. For example, NetWorker 7.3 supports multiple retention policies. Users can backup to disk and then clone their backup-to-disk savesets to tape. They can assign different retention policies for those savesets (e.g., a shorter retention policy for disk savesets and a longer retention policy for tape savesets as an additional line of defense).

NetWorker users can share backup-to-disk targets between both backup servers and media servers, enabling them to multi-task with a single backup disk target across multiple components in the backup environment, providing parallel access to the backup-to-disk resources.

From a recovery standpoint, NetWorker 7.3 enables recovery from multiple savesets at the same time. So as users restore a production environment, which may be made up of multiple savesets, they can restore them concurrently.

Addressing concerns about tape security and encryption, NetWorker 7.3 now supports encryption appliances, and the software includes encryption for backup files. Authentication, auditing, and security management have also been improved.

Also introduced this week, Backup Advisor is add-on software for both NetWorker and third-party backup applications such as IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager and Symantec's NetBackup and Backup Exec. The software performs root-cause and predictive analysis of backup environments and provides a single view of backup operations across multiple backup applications. Backup Advisor also provides correlation across backup components, backup servers, and network components.

Validating the CDP market
Data Mobility Group's McAdam says that EMC's entry into the CDP market may actually give a boost to CDP start-ups by calling attention to the technology.

"The big vendors [e.g., EMC, HP, and IBM] are getting into the CDP market. StorageTek has been in it for a while with EchoView, and Microsoft's Data Protection Manager will be enhanced with 'true' CDP at some point," says McAdam. "It's not unusual that start-ups develop the new technology and the bigger vendors follow. We've talked about CDP for a while, but when big vendors come in they help the market gain acceptance. Companies that were on the edge of thinking about CDP will now take it more seriously."

This article was originally published on October 24, 2005