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Integrated data protection software continues to evolve

Many new features such as data deduplication, CDP and encryption are being included in data protection software packages. Here's how the different packages stack up.

Archive, backup, continuous data protection (CDP), data deduplication, disk- and tape-based data protection, encryption, replication and search -- along with support for multiple operating systems -- are now becoming expected features in enterprise data protection software. However, product integration of these features, so that they operate and are managed as one, is still in various stages of development.

Symantec Corp. recently combined its Backup Exec and Veritas NetBackup groups so they're now part of the same business unit. Brian Greene, Symantec's senior director of Backup Exec, says the motivation for merging these two groups into one was to capitalize on Backup Exec's focus on Windows backup and Veritas NetBackup's focus on Unix backup. "Over the past couple of years, there has already been a lot of sharing of Backup Exec's Windows code with the Veritas NetBackup product," says Green.

In the near-term, Symantec users need to verify if different products in Symantec's data protection portfolio share the same indexes and data repositories or create their own with their own sets of policies. For example, even though the CDP component of Backup Exec, Continuous Protection Server, has been a part of Backup Exec since its10d release, Continuous Protection Server still creates its own index.

CA Inc.'s latest ARCserve Backup r12 release also more tightly integrates the management of its data protection features. For instance, CA ARCserve already manages physical and virtual tape libraries (VTLs), but r12 includes tighter integration with these devices. So, ARCserve administrators can now configure them in one or two steps using the ARCserve interface, rather than using the device's interface to configure them. CA also heightened ARCserve's integration with its CA XOsoft Replication CDP software, so that ARCserve can now do differential and incremental backups of data protected by CA XOsoft Replication not just full backups.

Two products further along in how they deliver integrated data protection are Asigra Inc. Televaulting and CommVault Simpana software suite. Both Asigra and CommVault use a common data repository to index and store backed up data; they support Linux, Windows, Unix and VMware operating systems and provide a single management interface from which to set policies and apply them across different data stores. However, their implementations are very different.

Asigra's Televaulting uses an entirely agentless architecture that utilizes existing corporate network security infrastructures to access data on servers. Televaulting's DS-Client (software that resides on a shared or dedicated appliance that collects the data for a certain number of servers) backs up new or changed data using a selectable daily backup or CDP option before deduplicating the data on the DS-Client. Data on the DS-Client is then centrally managed and gathered by Televaulting's DS-Server software, which collects data from all of the DS-Clients in order to perform a global deduplication.

CommVault's Simpana software suite uses agent-based technology. All of the agents in the Simpana software suite are designed to work with and leverage the same underlying technology (called the Common Technology Engine). This makes it possible to create a common central data repository. So, whether data is collected using its Continuous Data Replicator (CDR), Galaxy backup software or Data Archiver agent, policies can be centrally created, managed and applied across all of these data stores.

Because of the amount of data collected from these various sources, CommVault offers a file-level deduplication technology called Single Instance Store (SIS) as its data reduction algorithm. While block-level deduplication almost always provides greater total reductions in data, if searching archived and backed up data stores is already a concern or companies expect it become a problem, storing data in a SIS data store will typically put them in a better position to search it.

Asigra and CommVault developed all of their technology in-house. However, competing products, like those from CA and Symantec that have acquired other technologies over the years, can potentially provide more data protection and management options -- if they can integrate these different products together under one centralized management interface.

About the author: Jerome M. Wendt is lead analyst and president of DCIG Inc.


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