IBM on July 21 began selling a retooled version of its high-performance Tivoli enterprise data protection software to home and small-business customers via online distributors.
The company said its the first time a Tivoli product has been made available to a mass market.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., said that its real-time data backup software, IBM Continuous Data Protection for Files, is now available through major online retailers such as OfficeMax, CompUSA, Staples and Circuit City through a multiyear distribution agreement with channel provider Digital River of Minneapolis, Minn. The new Tivoli software costs $35 per laptop or desktop PC.
IBMs software captures and saves changes to documents continuously and also sends an encrypted copy of the information to a remote server or alternate backup device (such as a USB key) for double protection, all within milliseconds, according to IBM.
Users can set their backup preferences once and not have to think again about them, unlike other backup software that needs to be activated each time and captures only the current version of files, a company spokesperson said. Computer users can restore files that are corrupted or accidentally deleted, back to any point in time—adding multiple layers of defense against data loss.
The software helps home-based businesses, medical offices, retail shops and individual computer users—who rarely back up the information on their PCs—to continuously safeguard information in the same manner as banks and other big businesses.
"This has been in development for about three years," Chris Stakutis, IBMs chief technology officer for emerging storage software and inventor of CDP for Files, told eWEEK. "It wasnt a hard one to figure out; I just looked at what Tivoli was doing for enterprise, and said, Hey, I want that for our own computers."
With computers being bombarded with viruses and security threats, any lag time is too long when it comes to backing up information on your computer, Stakutis said. Unless data is protected in real time—continuously, as youre creating it—all the Word documents, MP3 files, digital photos and e-mail from just minutes ago will be lost, he added.
Gartner Research, in Stamford, Conn., reported that the market for data protection software is heating up and is expected to double to $300 million by 2009.
Microsofts new Windows Live OneCare software handles backup, as does software from Symantec, EMC, CA and others. Now that IBMs continuous backup software is widely available, users can decide whether periodic (or "snapshot") backup offered by other tech vendors is sufficient.
"Data loss threats caused by viruses and outages arent just a big-business concern," said Al Zollar, general manager of IBM Tivoli Software.
Zollar said that IBM studies reveal that viruses, file corruption and human error, such as accidental deletion, account for more than 50 percent of data loss.
Could this be the beginning of a trend—enterprise-type software packages being tooled down to consumer use on laptops and PCs?
"The trend has already begun," said John Webster, founder of Data Mobility Group in Nashua, N.H. "In the storage industry, you can buy RAID controllers embedded in PCs, for example, via RAID-on-chip technology.
"I [also] think well see the technology represented here moved into Tivoli products that are aimed up market."
Gartner storage analyst David Russell said he hopes this isnt the start of such a trend.
"I hope not," Russell said. "In general, I see feature-disabled enterprise solutions almost always missing the mark with the SMB [small and midsize business] and especially SOHO [small office/home office] markets. Not to say that there arent valid uses for these technologies, but there is much more to offering a strong product than just repackaging. The UI [user interface], market-specific features and application support, and go-to-market are key."
Russell thinks the marketing deal with Digital River makes sense.
"In this case, IBM has a product that should appeal to this market, but they needed a route to market to realize it, and IBM direct was not going to be that route," he said.