CDP Becomes a Contender

News Analysis: Storage vendors are racing to acquire companies with continuous data protection capabilities, showing that the technology is living up to its promise.

The CDP market continued to advance at a furious pace with a spate of announcements the week of July 10, slowly but surely moving continuous data protection from a promising emerging technology to one that vendors must have in their arsenals to remain competitive and capture as many customers as possible.

Leading the pack was CA, of Islandia, N.Y., which announced July 11 that it has acquired Waltham, Mass.-based XOSoft, known for its CDP solution.

This acquisition joins a list of others by storage vendors looking to add on CDP capabilities, including EMCs acquisition of Kashya, Network Appliances acquisition of Alacritus, Atempos acquisition of Storactive and SonicWalls acquisition of Lasso Logic.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about CAs acquisition of disaster recovery specialist XOSoft.

By acquiring CDP capabilities, all of these vendors are angling to make CDP a feature or product configuration option as part of a larger backup solution, said Brian Babineau, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, in Milford, Mass. In CAs case, the company clearly wants to augment its ArcServe portfolio with CDP capabilities, he said.

These companies are smart to acquire emerging technologies that are not yet quite mainstream, Babineau said.

"They arent buying vendors to catch up," he said. "They have a chance to participate in growing markets rather than chasing them."

In other recent CDP-related news, Exanet, based in Herzliya, Israel, introduced a hardware-agnostic, software-based CDP product designed to integrate with its own clustered NAS (network-attached storage) system. It provides remote replication, multi-protocol support, client and data load balancing, and protocol security.

According to CEO Rami Schwartz, ExaStor CDP integrates replication with the ability to capture block-level changes continually. By performing the tasks in this manner, the system captures only the portions of the files that have changed, speeding up performance. The system also allows users to move backward in time to any known recovery point before a data catastrophe, and can fully reconstruct the data from the CDP image in combination with a previously replicated copy of primary data, he said.

Finally, Idealstor, of Gaithersburg, Md., has added CDP capabilities for Windows servers to the latest version of its Ibac data protection software. Like previous versions, Ibac 4.0 backs up only changed files, completes a high-speed data copy in its native format and requires no agents to be installed on any remote servers to be backed up.

As the prominence of CDP technology increases, its value becomes more accepted, Babineau said.

"There have been CDP vendors in the marketplace for a while now, and customers are starting to realize the benefits of not having to rely on point-in-time copies but rather recovered data up to the last transaction or last change," he said. "When you start to allocate budget dollars to data protection software, you start to look at ways you can reduce your risk of data loss, and one of ways you can do that is invent an extremely expensive disaster recovery/remote replication solution, or you can look at the emerging technology such as CDP."

/zimages/6/28571.gifSonicWall provides a compressed version of CDP for SMBs. Read more here.

The recent rash of CDP announcements also indicates the technologys growing importance to the market. An October 2005 study from market research firm IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., indicated that even though many storage administrators admit that they have limited knowledge about CDP products, about 64 percent say that they either are currently using them, plan to use them within 12 months or are evaluating them.

All of this clearly indicates the growing importance of CDP to both users and vendors.

"Were starting to see CDP functionality as part of an overall data protection portfolio strategy from the vendor, and were starting to see customers look to bolt on innovative ways to reduce data exposure," Babineau said.

And as enterprise storage vendors like EMC and CA announce CDP acquisitions, as well as partnerships and OEM agreements that involve CDP, companies become more comfortable with the idea.

"Companies see that enterprise vendors are putting their stamp of approval on this type of technology, so they start thinking that maybe they should evaluate it as part of their data protection strategy in-house," he said.

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