Article

Continuous data protection (CDP) technologies in backup and recovery today

Deni Connor

Data backup and recovery is becoming faster and infinitely more granular thanks to continuous data protection (CDP).

According to a definition of CDP from the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), CDP software must have three elements:

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  1. Data is continuously captured and modifications to files or blocks of data are tracked
  2. Data changes are store independently of the data itself
  3. The recovery of data is time-independent and doesn't need to be defined prior to recover
Near versus real CDP

CDP capability, which is enabled in software or software-based appliances, may protect and recover blocks of data, files or applications such as Microsoft Exchange or SQL Server. It differs from near-CDP applications in that it is able to recover data from any point in time -- even seconds, minutes or hours. Near-CDP products require the administrator to set times or periods for which data will be backed up.

Block-based CDP protects the volume or LUN and monitors block-level changes to data. File-based CDP recognizes changes to files (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.) and stores the file and meta-data about the file. Application-level CDP protect individual database transactions (see "A sampling of companies that offer CDP and Near-CDP products" below).

With CDP, users can recover data from any point in time or from any previously scheduled point in time. Some CDP packages, like CA XOSoft, allow self service in which end users can recover files they have inadvertently lost or deleted. Other CDP capability is integrated with traditional backup packages such as CommVault Simpana or Symantec Corp. NetBackup RealTime Protection.

John Michaels, CTO for the Maxim Group, an investment banking firm in Woodbury, N.Y., uses FalconStor Continuous Data Protector for his CDP needs.

"We had experienced a bunch of mini-disasters and felt it was time to put in place a solution that could protect our data in case something happened again," said Michaels. "My servers are mirrored in real-time to the FalconStor CDP appliance and then at certain times of the day, I have it take snapshots so I can retrieve data from any point in time. If I have a hard drive failure, I can map a drive to the FalconStor CDP appliance and it will take off where the other server left off."

Michaels also uses the FalconStor CDP appliance to backup his Microsoft SQL and Exchange Servers.

"When there are databases that don't like to be shut down [with a technology such as mirroring], just to make sure the data is consistent, that's why we do the snapshots so we can go back to a previous snapshot."

Gary Gregg, IS manager for the City of Southlake, Texas, has also seen the benefits of CDP. He uses Microsoft's System Center Data Protection Manager.

"It's like an insurance policy," said Gregg. "The issue is you can't show value until you die. What's the value of lost data? For example, if we had 25 people having to redo eight hours of work, we'd lose $10,000 easily and that's not counting the aggravation, the miskeying and all the other work that needs to go on. It's a soft ROI, not a hard one."

This chart below is a sampling of companies that offer CDP and near-CDP products.

A sampling of companies that offer CDP and near-CDP products

Company/Product Name

File/Block/Application

Server/Desktop

Atempo Inc. Live Backup

File

Desktop

Atempo Inc. Time Navigator

File/Block/Application

Server

GlobalScape CDP

File

Server

CA Inc. XOSoft

File/Block/Application

Server

CommVault Simpana

File/Block/Application

Server

DataCore Software Corp. Traveler CPR for SANsymphony

File/Block/Application

Server

EMC Corp. RecoverPoint

Block, Application

Server

FalconStor Software Continuous Data Protector

Block

Server

IBM Corp. Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files

File

Both

IBM Corp. Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack

Block, Application

Server

InMage Systems Inc. DR-Scout

Block, Application

Server

Iron Mountain Inc. LiveVault

File, Block, Application

Server

Microsoft Corp. System Center Data Protection Manager

File, Application

Server

Mimosa Systems Inc. NearPoint

Application

Server

R1Soft CDP

Block, Application

Server

SonicWall CDP Series

File

Both

Symantec Corp. NetBackup PureDisk

File/Block/Application

Server

About this author: Deni Connor is principal analyst with Storage Strategies NOW in Austin, TX.


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