Microsoft Makes Move into Storage/Replication Market

A year after unveiling its first data storage software product, Microsoft releases a free beta of version 2 and says it plans to stay awhile in the market.

Microsoft is well-known for many things, but data storage and replication are not among them. But it is beginning to make a move in that market.

The worlds largest software company, based in Redmond, Wash., introduced on Sept. 27 the public beta of its System Center Data Protection Manager version 2 at the Storage Decisions conference in New York.

Built upon Microsofts DPM (Data Protection Manager) 2006—the companys first storage software released only last October—version 2 now will enable customers to back up and protect their Microsoft applications.

DPM 2006 only was able to back up and protect individual file servers.

DPM 2006 v2 aims to bring real-time replication and CDP (continuous data protection) technology to mainstream businesses, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

The new software centralizes backup for branch offices and broadens what is being protected, as well as how that backup/recovery occurs, said Jason Buffington, a Microsoft storage marketing manager.

DPM 2006 v2 uses an integrated disk-to-disk-to-tape mechanism to support all applications running on Exchange Server, SQLServer and SharePoint Portal Server.

It can run on disk and tape storage hardware from Dell, Quantum/ADIC, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, SpectraLogic and other brands, Buffington said.

"Customers who have been dissatisfied with their existing backup solutions are looking for Microsoft to deliver a superior data protection solution," Buffington said.

"DPM Version 2 is a significant milestone in Microsofts storage and systems management strategies, which youll be hearing about more often as time goes on."

Buffington told eWEEK that this new public beta, which became available for free download on Sept. 27 at this site, is designed to provide continuous data protection via "snapshot" backups, as often as every 15 minutes.

DPM version 2 gives users the ability to monitor data changes in real time using a patented agent technology. The integration of tape and disk is "seamless," Buffington said, to ensure minimal downtime and reliable application recovery with only a few mouse clicks.

DPM 2006 currently delivers rapid recovery of files from readily accessible disk—instead of waiting to locate and mount tapes—from an intuitive IT administrator interface, as well as enabling users to restore their own data directly from Windows Explorer or an Office application.

Traditionally, the backup and recovery of an application required the identification and maintenance of various stores of user data, application binaries and configuration data, as well as a list of procedures to recover both the data and the application, Buffington said.

With DPM version 2, IT administrators protect and recover all applications or application objects by using application terminology and concepts such as mailboxes for Microsoft Exchange Server or file shares for Windows file servers, he said.

Current backup packages often fail due to either the high cost of application-agent support or the incorrect configuration of what/how the data gets backed up.

DPM version 2 unifies the application recovery process and the application backup process into a continuous data protection package.

/zimages/1/28571.gifMicrosoft enters IP-SAN market with new storage software. Click here to read more.

"Data loss for our mission-critical applications are not something that we can tolerate," said Marc Williams, a current DPM 2006 v2 user and IT manager with the New York Department of Sanitation.

"The cost of even half a days work lost is not acceptable in todays demanding business climate. The continuous data protection capabilities of DPM version 2 has enabled us to confidently set SLAs for zero data loss by enabling single-click recovery of previous point-in-time copies."

Beta 2 of DPM 2006 is expected to be available in spring 2007, Buffington said, with the final version ready for release in summer 2007.

Service Pack 1 for the DPM 2006 original version is now available, Buffington said. Go here for more information.

The public beta of DPM 2006 V2 is now available for free download. Pricing on DPM 2006 v2 has not yet been determined; the current DPM 2006 agent is priced at $180 per file server, with the production edition priced at $500 per server.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...