Unitrends 7 lights a fire with 'hot-hot' off-site replication

Unitrends revamps its off-site replication to facilitate disaster recovery, no longer requires shipping an appliance to recovery site.

Backup appliance vendor Unitrends this week upgraded its software with a revamped "hot-hot" off-site replication process designed for quicker restores at a disaster recovery site.

Unitrends software works across the company's integrated backup appliances that cover the market from small and medium-sized businesses to small enterprises. It also sells its software as virtual appliances for VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Mark Campbell, Unitrends' chief strategy and technology officer, said the new version comes 18 months after the product team decided it had to streamline its off-site replication process. Hot-hot replication is the major addition to Unitrends 7.

"We decided we needed to rip and replace our entire replication architecture," Campbell said. "Before, we did 'hot-cold' replication and focused on shipping an appliance to the DR [disaster recovery] site. Now we're doing hot-hot to spin up servers for quick restores."

Previously, Unitrends' DR process required copying data to a second appliance and shipping that to the DR site. That's known as a hot-cold approach because the secondary site is off-line, or cold, until disaster strikes. A hot-hot approach requires the DR site to be functional at all times for quicker recovery.

Hot-hot recovery uses bi-directional off-site replication to keep data synchronized at the primary and DR sites. Unitrends 7 also ties its data deduplication into the replication process, requiring less storage off-site. It dedupes and compresses data as it sends it to the secondary site, and dedupes data again at the target.

Unitrends allows instant recovery of VMware, and bare-metal recovery for physical servers at the replication target.

Unitrends 7 also enables recovery of VMware data directly from a storage area network, the ability to dedupe data in a cloud, and native integration with Microsoft SharePoint and Oracle applications in virtual environments. It uses a push technology to install and upgrade small agents on virtual machines without manual intervention.

"We call them "secret agents," because they're not really agents at all," Campbell said. "When you get ready to do backups, it sends software into the virtual machine, and then we pull the software back out. It's so small, there's no performance impact and the user isn't aware of any of this."

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