Data Protection for All

Tech Analysis: Maturing technologies widen choices

With business uptime and data protection requirements becoming stricter in virtually every industry, an increasing number of solutions are entering the market to help IT managers keep their business servers up and running. In this weeks issue, eWeek Labs tested two relatively inexpensive products that are designed not only to keep data protected but also to minimize recovery time.

The WAN replication in Double-Take 4.4 and bare-metal restore in Acronis True Image 9.1 are not new technologies, but the enhancements made by Double-Take Software and Acronis, respectively, have greatly enhanced the products value. Double-Take has added application-tuned replication, while Acronis has added the ability to restore to heterogeneous machines.

Tape backup is the most common form of data protection implemented by enterprises. Although this technology is fairly reliable, its not very good at bare-metal server or PC recovery—a weakness that inevitably leads to increased downtime.

Bare-metal recovery solutions such as Acronis True Image 9.1 (see review, Page 46) capture images of working hard drive partitions. They can be used to quickly repair a PC or laptop by restoring a working operating system image. Given the relatively low cost of SATA (Serial ATA)-based storage available on the market today, it is fairly inexpensive for IT managers to store full backup images and multiple incremental backups of client machines.

As we saw in our review of Acronis True Image 9.1, storing backups on hard-drive-based systems—along with the ability to mount images in read-only mode—greatly accelerates the speed with which an IT manager can get data back to a client. In addition, imaging has progressed to the point that IT managers can now move an image from one machine to another with entirely different hardware.

WAN-based replication is another technology that has improved recently, especially for the small and midsize business market. In our tests of Double-Takes new DTAM (Double-Take Application Manager), we were impressed with the utilitys ability to help us set up redundant Microsoft Exchange servers over a WAN connection. The addition of the free DTAM utility to the Double-Take platform allows SMBs not only to replicate their e-mail stores over a WAN but also to gracefully fail over e-mail services to a warm spare, minimizing downtime for users.

Not to be outdone, a Double-Take Software competitor, XOsoft, has also made big advances in application availability with its Assured Recovery software. Recently named a finalist in the sixth annual eWeek Excellence Awards, Assured Recovery ups the ante by supporting Exchange as well as Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases.

As these product categories continue to mature, reliable business continuity solutions will be available to all companies—not just those with the deepest pockets.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at