Microsoft aims higher with DPM 2007

By Kevin Komiega

Microsoft’s release of System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 has elevated the product into a new category by protecting data beyond just Windows file servers with expanded support for SQL Server, Exchange Server, and SharePoint Portal Server. But, according to industry analysts, the Windows-only nature of the software will likely relegate DPM 2007 to smaller environments and portions of the enterprise.

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Bala Kasiviswanathan, director of branch and storage solutions at Microsoft, says with the first release of DPM, Microsoft was focused on solving the problems around backup and recovery of Windows file servers and helping customers move into disk-to-disk backup. DPM 2007, he says, is a much deeper application.

“DPM 2006 addressed file server protection and disk-to-disk backup; however, customers told us they wanted an end-to-end solution,” says Kasiviswanathan. “DPM 2007 has been designed from the ground up as a disk-based backup solution for Microsoft platforms and applications. It also adds tape archive support to provide an end-to-end disk-to-disk-to-tape solution.”

Within Microsoft, DPM 2007 is viewed as a fit for any IT environment that runs Windows applications. Kasiviswanathan also believes DPM 2007 can meet the backup-and-recovery needs of organizations ranging in size from small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to large enterprises. However, Microsoft is enlisting the help of its partners to address enterprise-class requirements.

“For large enterprises with heterogeneous environments, we provide solutions with the help of partners that integrate with DPM,” he says.

At the time of the DPM 2007 launch, the list of partners included vendors such as Bocada, Brocade, EMC, Emulex, EqualLogic, F5 Networks, FalconStor Software, HP, IBM, Quest Software, Sanbolic, Spectra Logic, and others. Several of those vendors have already announced new products for DPM.

For example, EMC announced that its NetWorker backup-and-recovery software will integrate with DPM 2007 to provide support for data protection in both Windows and non-Windows environments. In addition, EMC introduced a set of documented best practices for using Clariion storage systems with DPM 2007.

FalconStor has already qualified and tested all of its virtual tape library (VTL) products with DPM 2007 to provide heterogeneous support through the integration of FalconStor’s VTL features with multiple backup applications that share tape library resources.

And Bocada introduced the Unified Management Platform (UMP) for DPM 2007, which enables the management of multiple DPM servers from a single platform. Bocada’s UMP manages the protection and recovery of Microsoft workloads protected by DPM 2007 by providing a global view of the DPM environment.

Expanding support to every application and operating system under the sun is not necessarily Microsoft’s data- protection game plan. Rather than porting third-party applications to DPM, Microsoft plans to expand DPM’s depth and breadth of support for applications in the Windows world. Kasiviswanathan says that Microsoft will also invest in additional application-specific features, more granular recovery, and a more integrated backup solution, including support for enhanced bare-metal recovery.

Windows, SMB only

However, the Windows-only approach may hinder any plans Microsoft may have for penetrating the enterprise backup market. Stephanie Balaouras, a senior analyst with Forrester Research, says DPM 2007 will not compete well with data-center-class backup-and-recovery applications for a variety of reasons. “They have to have broad heterogeneous support, global management and reporting capabilities, and integration with various disk-based replication and copy technologies. However, the new release makes DPM extremely competitive against products in the SMB market,” Balaouras says. “DPM 2007 is very competitive with the likes of Veritas Backup Exec, CA ARCserve, and maybe CommVault in the SMB space, but it’s just for Windows environments, which is why I still relegate DPM to the SMB market.”

Balaouras predicts that Microsoft’s strategy for DPM will be to win in the SMB market and to be the preferred solution for Windows environments.

Microsoft has released a list of estimated starting prices for DPM 2007, which requires a server license for each DPM management server and a management license for each managed operating system environment.

Microsoft recommends purchasing DPM 2007 licenses as part of a System Center Server Management Suite, but it is also available as a stand-alone product.

The DPM 2007 Server management license is available in Enterprise and Standard Editions. Pricing for the two editions is based on server workloads. An Enterprise Server management license is priced from $426 and is required for recovery-and-backup management of applications such as SQL Server, Exchange Server, and SharePoint Server. The Enterprise Server license also includes the Microsoft System Recovery Tool, DPM-to-DPM replication, and host-based virtual server backup functionality. A Standard Server license, priced from $155, is limited to file server protection.

This article was originally published on December 01, 2007