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Actifio improves database integration of copy data management software

Latest Actifio upgrade adds automated log shipping, replication to more than two sites and enhanced integration with VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Actifio Inc. has expanded its copy data management software platform with automated log shipping and multi-hop replication for Microsoft SQL and Oracle Database environments.

The 6.1 release of Actifio software also adds plug-ins for virtualizing copy data directly within VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

The Actifio Copy Data Storage (CDS) platform includes a distributed object file system that discovers which application wrote a given block of data, when the block was written, and where the data needs to reside.

Actifio creates a virtualized image of any production application for use as a mount point for tasks such as archiving, disaster recovery, replication, quality assurance, and test and development management. Customers use Actifio's SLA Architect to assign multiple service criteria to the application or data set, based on its access history and data lifecycle.

LogSmart is Actifio's name for its branded log-shipping technology. LogSmart consults the SLA Architect to automatically roll transaction logs to specified points in time established by an administrator, such as setting a separate weekly backup of Oracle Database and periodic daily backup of log files. Previous versions captured a database in its entirety as a consistency group and required administrators to manually configure data elements.

"Some of our customers wanted to manage the logs and databases separately. Version 6.1 gives them the ability to control that on a more granular basis," said Chris Carrier, an Actifio director of product marketing.

Carrier said the multi-hop replication feature helps service providers offer disaster recovery as a service to their customers. It replicates point-in-time images to multiple locations from a secondary data center or restoration point. The multi-hop support incorporates Actifio's Dedup Async technology that asynchronously replicates globally deduped data to eliminate WAN optimization and preserve bandwidth.

Customers praise Actifio upgrade

Newmarket International Inc., a provider of enterprise software to the hospitality sector, integrated Actifio in 2011 primarily to back up a SQL Server farm. Ken Wilson, Newmarket operations manager, said the Dedup Async feature allows his company to use fewer storage and network bandwidth resources.

"I've been able to avoid adding additional resources from a storage perspective, which we conservatively estimate has saved us about $100,000. We're using Actifio Dedup Async, which we figure saves about 70% of our network bandwidth, as opposed to just replicating raw data," Wilson said.

Actifio has been tightly integrated with VMware since its product launch in 2009. The version upgrade includes a plug-in for vSphere Web client to enable VMware administrators to manage copy data directly with the hypervisor. Actifio 6.1 also enables automated discovery of all virtualized Hyper-V servers through Microsoft System Center.

Actifio jumped early into copy data management market

Actifio was an early entrant into the nascent market for copy data management. Other competitors include fellow start-ups Delphix Inc and Catalogic Software, which primarily focuses on NetApp storage hardware. According to analyst firm IDC, enterprises spent about $44 billion in 2013 managing unnecessary copies of data.

Sheila Childs, a managing vice president for servers and storage at research firm Gartner Inc., said customers generally welcome the ease of management Actifio and other copy data platforms provide.

"I don't think the larger vendors would look at this as being earth-shattering, but I do think you'll see them begin to tuck functionality for copy data management into their products. That's how I see this space evolving," Childs said.

Hitachi Data Systems became the first major legacy vendor to launch a product specifically aimed at subduing copy data sprawl, when it rolled out Hitachi Data Instance Manager in 2013.

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