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Windows IT Pro Storage UPDATE--A New CDP Choice--October 31, 2005

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1. Commentary
- Yet Another Data-Protection Choice: EMC's Application-Aware CDP

2. From the Community
- Disk Performance Might Slow When Using Write Caching

3. New and Improved
- Arkeia Launches Smart Backup for SMBs
- Availl Releases Availl Backup 3.0
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

4. Windows IT Pro Resources

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==== 1. Commentary: Yet Another Data-Protection Choice: EMC's Application-Aware CDP ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

When Microsoft announced System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) earlier this year, a relevant comment that stuck in my mind was Microsoft's claim that DPM was what its customers were asking for and that the continuous data protection (CDP) model that the rest of the storage industry was touting--continuous backup of critical data instead of the "x-number-of-times-per-day" model that DPM supports--wasn't what customers wanted or needed.

Only time will tell whose approach is the correct one, as market forces will determine which data-protection methodology is most successful. But last week, yet another major storage vendor jumped on the CDP side of the fence: EMC announced its EMC RecoverPoint CDP software.

RecoverPoint is an application-aware CDP scheme that uses dedicated storage to maintain a full baseline copy of protected data and to store continuous updates to that data, capturing every write made to the data it's protecting. This means that an administrator can recover the protected storage to any point in time, not just to the last time that a scheduled backup was run or the last snapshot of the changed data was taken, as might be the case with a more limited data-protection scheme. Application awareness means, for example, that you can recover a set of databases even if they reside on multiple-array systems. Of course, the backup protection will have aggregated that data to its dedicated storage.

To address the problem of determining when data corruption might have occurred, EMC has coined the term "significant point-in-time" in reference to actions that applications might take that are good places to set a consistent recovery point. These significant points can be policy based--such as a regular hourly checkpoint, the daily data rollup for your databases, or the point at which the financial day or month ends--or application based, such as after a database rollback or roll-forward. This significant point-in-time model runs concurrently with any other point-in-time protection already offered by EMC's CDP software; it just provides an additional means for recovering corrupted data. If an administrator is aware of the precise point at which data became damaged, the administrator can restore data to the point just prior to the damage regardless of any significant points he or she might also be using.

RecoverPoint isn't a standalone software product; it requires a supported version of EMC Replication Manager to be installed on each host for which you want to provide the RecoverPoint CDP protection, because RecoverPoint uses Replication Manager's agent technology. Although this requirement will limit initial adoption of RecoverPoint to businesses that have already standardized on EMC's data-replication technology, it also becomes a strong selling point for the overall EMC data-storage solution.

The real-time CDP market continues to attract major players--a condition that exists because customers and vendors are acknowledging the value of restoring critical data from any point in time. The growing acceptance of the need for CDP begs the question of whether CDP technology will continue to be a differentiator between data-protection solutions or whether customers will make it a check-box item for their data-protection needs. At the moment, CDP vendors are still educating the market about their solutions' value; in a few years the technology will likely be an expected one in any complete data-protection solution.

==== 2. From the Community ====

Disk Performance Might Slow When Using Write Caching

On Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems, certain write operations on disks that use write caching might perform more slowly than under versions of Windows 2000 prior to Service Pack 3 (SP3). Also, on a cluster computer, hard-disk write operations to shared disks could cause large differences in write performance between each node. The slower performance occurs because pre-SP3 versions of Windows 2000 contained a bug that caused certain commands to be issued only to disks that had write caching enabled and forced critical data to be written to disk devices immediately instead of being held temporarily in the disk's write-behind cache. For more information about the problem and obtaining a hotfix for the bug, go to

==== 3. New and Improved ====
by Anne Grubb, [email protected]

Arkeia Launches Smart Backup for SMBs

Arkeia has replaced its free backup software, Arkeia Light, with a new product, Arkeia Smart Backup. Smart Backup is a network-backup solution that helps small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) control their storage budgets by providing integrated data-volume-based pricing. This pricing scheme lets companies pay only for the storage they actually use while benefiting from Arkeia's backup and restore software. Smart Backup fully supports disk-to-disk backup environments as well as traditional disk-to-tape and tape autoloaders. The software also features network backup capability with support for many client OSs (e.g., Windows, Linux); an easy-to-use GUI; the ability to back up several machines simultaneously; automatic bare-metal disaster recovery; and more. Arkeia Smart Backup's data volume-based pricing begins at 100GB for $99 and is free up to 50GB. Each additional 100GB (up to 1TB) is priced at $99. For more than 1TB, an additional 500GB costs $499 (including $99 yearly support renewal). Arkeia Smart Backup is available for download at . For more information, contact the vendor on the Web:

Availl Releases Availl Backup 3.0

Availl announced the availability of the latest version of its continuous, tapeless backup solution, Availl Backup 3.0. The new version applies key elements of the company's Wide Area File Services (WAFS) technology to performing continuous backup of local and remote servers. New features include specific optimization for both data files and online databases and the ability to automatically fail back to the original server once it's operational and its data changes have been updated. Availl Backup 3.0 also uses Availl's WAFS-style byte-level differencing technology for sending files via a WAN to minimize bandwidth usage by the continuous-backup process. Availl Backup 3.0 also provides hot database backup for "always-on" databases and supports an unlimited number of past versions, deleted files, and point-in-time snapshots. Pricing for Availl Backup 3.0 starts at $995. For more information and to download a trial copy of the product, contact the vendor on the Web:

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