EMC ‘validates’ CDP

By Ann Silverthorn

At the Storage Networking World conference last month, EMC introduced its information protection strategy with three products that form the company’s new recovery management software portfolio. EMC’s new continuous data protection (CDP) software, RecoverPoint, spearheads the lineup; another new product, Backup Advisor, joins the mix; and Legato NetWorker, EMC’s flagship backup-and-recovery software, gained some enhancements.

According to analysts, EMC’s entry into the CDP market 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 RecoverPoint, 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.

(Also last month, Hewlett-Packard announced an OEM deal with Mendocino. 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.)

Taking the approach of a comprehensive information protection strategy rather than a stand-alone CDP solution will help users recover data more effectively, claims Emsley. He says RecoverPoint is an integral part of EMC’s overall software portfolio, array technology, and replication technology that runs on those arrays.

“We expect that a lot of customers will make use of EMC storage in the recovery storage implementation, but they don’t have to,” says Emsley. “Customers can decide what kind of recovery mechanism they want to deploy based on the different levels of importance of the information they want to protect.”

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 that have different requirements,” says McAdam. “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 adds that EMC’s product is more scalable, and it can handle large processing requirements.

According to EMC’s Emsley, RecoverPoint differs from recently announced CDP products that target Windows environments and file-system 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 and can be used in SANs.

Among the file-based CDP vendors are IBM, Symantec, Lasso Logic, Mimosa Systems, StoneFly Networks, Storactive, TimeSpring, and XOsoft. Block-based CDP vendors include FalconStor, InMage, Kashya, LiveVault, Mendocino, and Revivio.

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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 (see figure, above). Administrators define a protection window, perhaps three to five days, and then they can roll back the environment to any point in time (APIT) that existed in that protection window.

Emsley says that some start-ups have introduced CDP claiming that the 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, then you have no better than a crash-consistent copy.

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“So, in addition to APIT, we layer application consistency so users know that when they recover from that specific point the application will always be able to restart [see figure]. Examples of specific points include a checkpoint before or after the user applies a patch or at a quarterly close,” he adds. (RecoverPoint currently supports Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, with support for Exchange Server and IBM’s DB2 due in subsequent versions.Subsequent releases will integrate directly into EMC Legato NetWorker software. With the first release EMC will provide integration with custom scripting through its partners, but in the first half of 2006, EMC will provide integration into the NetWorker management interfaces.

NetWorker enhancements

Recent enhancements to Legato NetWorker address performance, simplicity, and security. For example, NetWorker 7.3 supports multiple retention policies. Users can back up to disk and then clone their backup-to-disk savesets to tape. They can assign different retention policies for those savesets (i.e., 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.

The user interface now has a consistent look and feel across the Windows and Unix versions, and some of the configuration wizards were improved.

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

Backup monitoring

Also introduced last month, 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 analysis and predictive analysis of backup environments and provides a single view of all backup operations across multiple backup applications. Users can create a dashboard view tailored to specific administrators. 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 start-ups such as InMage, Kashya, Lasso Logic, LiveVault, Mimosa, Revivio, StoneFly, Storactive, TimeSpring, and XOsoft. “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 November 01, 2005