It’s hard to imagine that there’s a backup software vendor out there that, until recently, I hadn’t heard of. And I’m guessing you haven’t heard of them either.

Cofio Software was formed in mid-2006 and has been shipping its flagship AIMstor data protection software for about a year. The company’s early adopters have been mostly in China, where users are apparently more open to trying something new and aren’t as tied to brand name products.

Some of Cofio’s founders (including Tony Cerqueira and Fabrice Helliker) were formerly at BakBone Software, but Cofio can trace its roots back to AT&T Bell Labs and the NetVault product line.

In addition to backup and restore, the AIMstor suite includes a host of other data protection applications and technologies, including data deduplication (target and source, with Change Byte Transfer technology), snapshots, real-time replication, continuous data protection (CDP), live/batch backup, bare metal recovery, and more.

However, in my opinion Cofio has two key differentiators vs. the more well-known backup vendors:

–All of Cofio’s data protection applications are built on a common code platform, or unified framework. In that sense, Cofio’s primary competitor may be CommVault, which also has a common code base for a variety of data protection applications. This is in contrast to the disparate, often non-integrated point products that vendors include in their data protections suites. It’s also in contrast to the need for users to buy various data protection applications from multiple vendors, which leads to management nightmares.

–AIMstor has a (seemingly) unique interface with drag and drop policies and data flow of physical and virtual machines and groups. It’s called a Workflow User Interface (WUI), and it has a whiteboard feel to it. Since I don’t use enterprise-class backup software, it’s hard for me to describe this interface. It’s the sort of thing that you need a demo for (see link below).

Although Cofio has been shipping AIMstor for about a year, the company just released the 2.2 version, which can be considered the first production release.

Cofio is in the process of recruiting VARs, and only has a handful of them in North America. One of those VARs is Cambridge Computer.

I asked Cambridge Computer CTO Jacob Farmer what he likes about AIMstor, and here’s his response:

“I just started working with them. I like the concept. In a sentence, you define policies and it protects your data. All other backup products just copy data on a scheduled basis.

Effectively, you tell the software:
– what data you want to protect
– what you need for recovery point
– what you need for recovery time
– what you need for retention
– where you want copies of the data stored

It also includes other aspects of data protection
— immutability (enforcement of write-once)
— user access audit logs
— bare metal to disparate hardware ”

The recently released version of AIMstor includes a lot of new features. For details, see the AIMstor 2.2 press release.

But like I said, this is the sort of product that you really need a demo on to understand it fully. Check out the short video demo on Cofio’s website to get started.

Or click here for a free trial version of the software.

Of course, this begs the question of whether or not the storage industry needs yet another backup vendor, but if you’re looking for something new and aren’t married to the big brand name vendors, Cofio’s AIMstor might be worth a test drive.