Which vendors provide continuous data protection?

* A look at CDP vendors and their wares

How can you use continuous data protection?  It all has to do with your recovery point objectives. 

Consider a "spectrum" that goes from very broad recovery points (storage that is not very granular) to storage that is extremely specific in terms of its RPOs (highly granular storage). Archiving generally does not require much granularity, while CDP represents the most granular end of the spectrum. What applications can make the best use of a high level of granularity?

At your site, there may be several applications where you need to capture every change in every bit of data - electronic stock exchanges might find this sort of thing useful, for example.  But it is obvious that the best use of CDP is with what may be the most ubiquitous and mundane of all applications - e-mail (both my columns for the first week in May discussed using CDP for e-mail - see links below).

Today, let's take a look at which vendors provide CDP solutions.

Mendocino Software (http://www.mendocinosoft.com) offers RealTime, a software-only solution for storage-area network and host-based CDP. "Application-oriented recoveries" can rollback application data to any point in time to reduce recovery times and thus ensure that applications start-up at the anticipated point. If the wrong recovery point is specified, users can take advantage of RealTime's time-ordered "Undo" logs, which are written before overwriting a disk block on the replica volume.

Mimosa NearPoint (http://www.mimosasystems.com) provides application-intelligent CDP and e-mail archiving for midsized businesses. What makes it particularly appealing is the fact that once installed, users can do their own recoveries without having to call the help desk for assistance. This means faster recoveries and a much less harried IT staff. Furthermore, expect installation to be straightforward - no agents are used - so time-to-value for this software solution should be quick.

Revivio (http://www.revivio.com) offers the CPS 1200, an appliance that replicates disks (or groups of disks) with data from any point in time and provides restored volumes that offer instant read/write access. Because there is no waiting for copying data, this allows real time testing and analysis of data that is almost synchronous with online volumes. A suite of specialized modules is available.

Storactive's (http://www.storactive.com) LiveBackup and LiveServe are CDP solutions for both desktops and Exchange servers. The LiveServe back-up server goes between the disks and the existing back-up server. It removes redundant files and compresses Exchange data, and can quickly restore a single file or a whole volume of data. End users do their own restores. Storactive also offers LiveBackup Express Edition, an entry-level product.

XOsoft's  (http://www.xosoft.com ) Enterprise Rewinder focuses on providing instant recovery of corrupted Exchange, SQL and Oracle databases. This can be used in conjunction with the company's WANSynch (long-haul replication for disaster recovery), WANSynchCD (content distribution), and WANSynchHA (failover for databases and filers) products.

On the day when you do go off cleverly disguised as a responsible adult to look at CDP solutions, you may well find several that you like. Be forewarned: while all CDP solutions may have things like quick and granular recoveries in common, no one should assume that all these products are even remotely the same. One size definitely will not fit all, and what goes for the large enterprise may not be at all appropriate for the mid-sized business. If you get lost amid the marketing haze, remember that this still must be about your business and not about some vendor's technology. Even where strong similarities do occur, something as basic as understanding a vendor's pricing model may give you enough information to help you decide whether the vendor is developing his product with you in mind or is aiming it at another market segment entirely.

Learn more about this topic

Is it possible to find a lost e-mail?

Network World, 05/03/05

CDP goes a long way to protecting e-mail messages

Network World, 05/05/05

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