Called Tapeless Branches, the solution allows organizations with multiple sites to consolidate backup and recovery processes into one or more data centers.
Tapeless Branches builds on the Southborough, Mass., companys Xpress Restore, a year-old point-in-time backup product that allows an organization to manage its entire infrastructure centrally, storing all data from each branch locally and in its own vault in the central location.
Tapeless Branches takes the concept a step further by allowing organizations to recover from any location—locally at the branch level or within the corporate data center—or to push the data out to any other location to recover.
One of the most attractive features of Tapeless Branches is its ability to recover remotely without invoking central IT, said Steve Duplessie, storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.
"Not only do they send the data back to be protected at corporate, but they keep a copy local, so when there is a mistake or something is accidentally deleted, they can go back and recover from the remote site directly. Thats the unique twist," he said.
The concept of Tapeless Branches is much different from that of traditional methods of remote IT management, such as data replication and WAFS (Wide Area File Services).
Neither of these technologies allow recoveries to occur remotely, Duplessie noted.
With WAFS technology, offered by vendors such as Actona (now part of Cisco Systems) and Tacit Networks Inc., data resides at corporate headquarters and is cached to remote locations.
And with data replication, "when you have to recover, corporate has to find the data you need to recover and push it out, and you have to be on the other end to deal with it," Duplessie said. "With this, you just look at it, click on it, and you have recovered."
"Replication wings everything over the wall back to the central site, but that means that anything that happens in the branch in terms of data corruption, viruses or worms automatically addresses it to the central site," said Frank Jablonski, a FilesX vice president.
"It doesnt give you a point-in-time protection point for your data that you can go back to in the event of data corruption."
Traditional data replication-based solutions also use a great deal of bandwidth, unlike the Tapeless Branches approach, which relies on selective replication.
"You might want to have a point-in-time backup of your branch every hour, and we can do that at the branch level," Jablonski said.
"But you dont need that at the central site, where you can get away with sending a backup once or twice a day. So you reduce the bandwidth you use as well as the amount of storage required at the central location."
And because Tapeless Branches replicates at the block level, its particularly efficient, he said.
Tapeless Branches is relatively inexpensive compared to high-end and even some midrange replication products, Duplessie said, "and its a lot less expensive than having dedicated high-bandwidth lines, because you can do this over the Internet, since it only moves the actual changed bytes and not entire files."
But most importantly, products like Tapeless Branches may very well be the next wave of storage technology.
"There wont be any remote IT in 10 years, and you wont need it if you can mitigate performance as an issue," Duplessie said.
"This backup scenario is a perfect example—it recovers locally, so there is no performance degradation, but [the customer] is getting all of the benefits of shipping all of the data back to corporate and letting them do all of the protection.