Rackspace's Jungle Disk preps cloud data backup Server Edition

Rackspace's Jungle Disk is ready to launch the Server Edition of its cloud backup software with the option of connecting to Amazon S3 or the Rackspace Cloud.

Jungle Disk is preparing to enter the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) cloud backup market this month with general availability of its Server Edition as the Rackspace Hosting subsidiary continues to move up in scale.

Server Edition will join Jungle Disk's previous Desktop and Workgroup Editions. Jungle Disk, founded in 1998, staked its claim to fame by writing software that provided a GUI interface into Amazon's S3 cloud data storage as an alternative to the service's native APIs. After Rackspace acquired Jungle Disk in October 2008, it added support in its Desktop and Workgroup Editions for the Rackspace Cloud hosting service back end.

"We initially started with a focus on consumer online storage and backup, but last year we released our first Workgroup Edition for business desktops," Jungle Disk president Dave Wright said. Server Edition is the next step of that scale-up strategy.

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Server Edition, first released to public beta in early October, will support Windows, Mac and Linux server cloud data backup, remote management, and block-level data deduplication. Only new blocks will be sent to either the Rackspace or S3 clouds to cut down on bandwidth. It will also allow users to build exclude lists by file type and use wild card filters. It will also support simultaneous multiple upload connections to account for beefier data center Internet connectivity for servers.

Jungle Disk claims more than 1,000 beta testers for Server Edition. Ed Crotty, founder of a shopping site called zooLert.com, said he was originally going to roll his own backups to S3 when he came across Jungle Disk. He's been using Server Edition for cloud backup.

"My initial impressions of the Desktop and Workgroup Editions were favorable, but they didn't really meet our needs," he said. "We needed to back up everything on our server but couldn't afford something like [Symantec Corp.'s] NetBackup."

One feature Server Edition won't have in its first release is centralized remote management, which Crotty said he would like to see but can live without. "You can remotely set up a certain machine from one location," he said. "It's somewhat limited compared to other products, and not all that robust yet, but I don't have to physically walk over to a remote desktop -- I can set up features and schedule backups from one machine."

Competitors in the cloud backup market such as Asigra Inc., i365 EVault and Symantec have centralized management features and offer the ability to do initial uploads or large restores by using a seeding device. Jungle Disk Server Edition does not allow seeding devices.

For Crotty, though, cost is the bottom line. With the first 10 GB free and a $5 per server per month price, he said Jungle Disk was the least expensive option he found that meets his needs. It costs less than open-source backup player Zmanda, whose most basic subscription software support price is $300 per server per year.

"We were just looking for a cheap solution to provide offsite backup, but a lot of products at this price point are very consumer-oriented," Crotty said.

Wright said that when Server Edition is launched, Jungle Disk will make version 3 of the Workgroup and Desktop editions available with the same data deduplication and compression features included in the Server Edition. Also new with Workgroup and Desktop 3 is the addition of Jungle Disk Sync, which can sync files and make them available in the cloud to multiple machines.

The goal long-term is to connect Server Edition to a wider variety of cloud back ends, Wright said. "I think there will be multiple storage clouds -- Microsoft has one in beta, and we expect Google to offer one as well," he said. "We'll be looking to upload to multiple clouds, especially for redundancy."

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