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CA overhauls ARCserve data backup software

CA hopes that the newest version of its ARCserve data backup software, which improves application integration with XOsoft, will boost ARCserve's declining market share in the data protection and data recovery market.

CA Inc. is releasing CA ARCserve Backup 12 today, streamlining management of its backup software. The update also beefs up support for remote and branch offices, and provides better integration with applications acquired from XOsoft in 2006.

Customers and analysts agree that the update addresses problems from past releases, but it remains to be seen if CA can regain its market share it has lost over recent months.

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The biggest change in version 12 is that CA centralized the back-end database on SQL Server instead of using a proprietary back-end catalog database for each media server. This allows customers to centrally manage all ARCserve servers in an enterprise, including remote and branch offices. It also allows customers to centrally manage ARCserve backup with CA's XOsoft replication and XOsoft high-availability software.

The centralized database will improve ArcServe's scalability by adding 64-bit support and streamlining throughput, according to Frank Jablonski, CA recovery management marketing director. The new version of ARCserve will also support multithreading and up to tens of millions of files, although there are no official numbers on how the throughput will be affected, he said.

Better integration with XOsoft 

Administrators can now monitor XOsoft replication jobs through the ARCserve GUI, although drilling down into those jobs for management still requires a separate interface. Also, ARCserve can now make tape backups from XOsoft replicas.

XOsoft replicator and XOsoft high availability now have a new assessment mode, which shows how changes to the replication environment will be affected by available bandwidth. XOsoft's Assured Recovery feature, which tests disaster recoverability from replicated data, now allows users to drag and drop files from replica servers to production servers. An improved synchronization design will let XOsoft trigger the reboot of a clustered server node without requiring resync. Version 12 also allows customers to upgrade ARCserve and XOsoft without having to reboot.

ARCserve now has centralized device monitoring and management for backup hardware devices, such as virtual tape libraries (VTL) and tape libraries built in, and support for VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) and AES 256-bit encryption. Version 12 also provides the ability to track tape drive throughput statistics and identify clients with failed backup attempts. However, long-term trending is not part of this release.

Can CA regain market share in data protection and data recovery?

With the new release, CA is looking to reverse a trend of falling market share for ARCserve. Market research firm IDC's latest storage software tracker shows CA's market share in data protection and recovery declining 22.3% quarter over quarter and 17% year over year. ARCserve customers at the Storage Decisions conference in December voiced concerns about the product. "It'll run fine for a few days, then fail," said a user from a large research organization who asked not to be named. "Suddenly there'll be SCSI errors, you have to reboot the server to fix it, and then when it reboots it loses the tape library, so you waste half a day on that." The customer said that support "never seemed to follow through" on finding long-term fixes to problems. Others users at the conference said they were concerned about ARCserve product development, saying they felt CA put greater emphasis on other products.

Laura DuBois, IDC's research director for storage software, considers the latest upgrade a sign that CA is refocusing on ARCserve and XOsoft. DuBois attributed CA's market share losses primarily to remote and branch offices replacing the product, saying that ARCserve failed to address that part of the market until CA acquired XOsoft. "They're still not winning every place they should [with backup], but where they've really been hurt is the remote office," she said.

CA has more integration work to do with XOsoft, Dubois said. "What users really want is a unified interface showing different recovery point objectives [RPO] and matching different technologies to those objectives," she said. "They're not there yet, but it's encouraging to see them going in that direction. XOsoft has good technology, and it was a prudent acquisition for them, if they can continue to execute."

Other customers say they've been satisfied with CA's support for ARCserve. "To me, it's been a very reliable product," said Tony Foresta, technical support specialist for civil engineering firm Taylor, Wiseman and Taylor. Foresta estimates he backs up 4 GB to 5 GB of changed data per day on a total storage capacity of 2.5 TB. "Their technical support is good, and there's plenty of support information online. I've never had a problem that they haven't been able to help me fix." Foresta has been beta testing the Version 12 since November, and said he's most interested in the update's ability to manage remote office backup servers centrally and to do bare-metal restore.

One long-time XOsoft customer said he'll replace Symantec Backup Exec with ARCserve -- now that there's integration with his replication product. "We've been using three products for data protection: Backup Exec for tape backups of Exchange, [Symantec] Live State [Recovery] for bare-metal restore and XOsoft for long-distance replication and failover," said Ben Weinberger, director of IT for the law firm Ruden McClosky. "Tying ARCserve in with XOsoft makes it much more attractive to just use one product."


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