New data recovery appliance targets smaller businesses

Unitrends Software Corp. yesterday unveiled an upgrade to its near-line disk backup array aimed at the small-to-midsize business market that’s designed to allow companies to restore servers from almost any point in time right down to the operating system. It’s rare for vendors to produce a product that restores data, applications and operating systems through one integrated tool set.Text

Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Unitrends, which has been producing backup software since its inception in 1989, introduced its Rapid Recovery System (RRS) technology based on its existing Data Protection Units arrays. The 2U (3.5-in.-high) arrays incorporate both business continuity and disaster recovery functions in a box that scales from 400GB to 100TB and has a starting price under $5,000.

The RRSs arrive preconfigured with the company’s Bare Metal Plus software, which can perform file-level backup and recovery as well as restore a full operating system — complete with passwords and permissions for up to 100 servers, according to Unitrends’ CEO, Sterling Wharton. The system works by burning a DVD of the applications and operating system that can then be loaded into a new server.

The new functionality includes what Unitrends calls continuous system protection, or the ability to make multiple point-in-time copies of data, applications and operating systems throughout the day and restore from those preset points in time. Sterling said snapshots of the data can be scheduled to occur seconds or minutes apart.

Rapid Recovery System capabilities:

– Disk-based data backup and restore – Data backup software – Data compression – Support of more than 25 OSs – Electronic data vaulting – Point-in-time recovery

Kevin Hughes, a network engineer at Sharonview Federal Credit Union in Fort Mill, N.C., installed two RRSs at the beginning of November and has been able to cut in half a backup window that had grown to more than 24 hours for 25 servers. Hughes had been backing up his servers using Veritas Backup Exec software directly to a tape library from Advanced Digital Information Corp.

Installing the RRS array, which acts as a near-line storage device between Sharonview’s servers and its tape library, took less than a day and was relatively simple to do, Hughes said. One RRS was installed at the credit union’s main data center and another at a disaster recovery site in the same metropolitan area. Hughes said he is replicating data synchronously between the two devices.

“The vaulting technology was important for us from a disaster recovery standpoint,” Hughes said. “And it’s multithreading, so [it] can run up to eight backups at once.”

Hughes said restoring applications and operating systems from a bad server used to take more than 24 hours; with the RRS box, it takes about an hour. “And I don’t spend nearly the time maintaining backups as I was before,” he said.

Arun Taneja, an analyst at Taneja Group Inc. in Hopkinton, Mass., said that while Unitrends’ technology is not unique, it’s rare for vendors to produce a product that restores data, applications and operating systems through one integrated tool set.

Other products tend to be scaled-down versions of enterprise-class technologies from larger vendors such as EMC Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., Taneja said.

What sets Unitrends apart is that its product was created for small-to-midsize businesses.

“These guys have been focused from the very beginning on that space,” Taneja said. “The other aspect is that it’s not just backup and restore, but replication and WAN replication all built into one.”

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