Calgary’s El Fresko hypes cloud-based replication

El Fresko Technologies has updated its flagship MagnaStor archival storage product to include real-time replication of data to the cloud.

With the new MagnaStor FS Archiver, the Calgary-based firm is shifting its focus away from targeting the compliance needs of small and medium-sized businesses and instead, focusing on data protection and recovery requirements. The updated features include the ability to replicate data in real-time to an El Fresko partner’s cloud, automatic migration of static data from primary storage systems to archives, and new real-time dedupe features among others.

El Fresko’s MagnaStor product line operates as a “file system” that tracks and monitors archived data through its entire lifecycle.

It provides a “chain of custody” for IT administrators, as all of the digital records in the system are attached to metadata, which can be traced and verified as data moves through an organization’s IT infrastructure. Data policies are also baked right into the file system, which means when a file moves from system to system, all the metadata associated with the file also moves with it.

CEO Mark Fowlie said the real-time, secure and encrypted replication to the cloud will significantly eliminate the risk of data loss and dramatically improve back-up capabilities for organizations.

“Every time there’s an event, we put it to the cloud,” he said, adding that customers will work with El Fresko partners to set-up their off-site cloud.

Fowlie said that because 80 to 90 per cent of stored data is static, organizations can take that data outside of their back-up stream and move a copy from their primary back-up server and replicate it through FS Archiver in the cloud.

“A PDF of the employee handbook or a contract that you signed with a customer 12 months ago is never going to change, but you’re backing it up 52 times a year,” he said.

“By ensuring the data is WORM (write-once, read-many), you only have to replicate it once, unlike other archives where you have to do full system back-ups.”

Upon the initial release of the disk-based archiving software last January, IDC Canada Ltd. research analyst Dave Pearson said the company’s initial focus on compliancy and e-discovery concerns could be a “tough sell for some Canadian firms because of the country’s relaxed compliancy laws.

“We’ve not found it to be a big driver for IT spending outside of firms in the legal or financial profession,” he said last year, predicting that U.S. firms will probably be more interested in the product.

To respond to this view from analysts and its customers, Fowlie said the company has revamped its focus with more features that address data management, storage efficiency and back-up processes.

But that doesn’t mean users will not be able to manage their compliance and e-discovery needs, he added. MagnaStor’s Timeline feature ensures administrators that the details of every file update can be accessed and recovered, Fowlie said.

“It may look like we’re saving overtop of the data, but we’re not,” he said. Instead, users will have a timeline of changes, which can be played back and restored from any point.

This will come in handy if there is a legal or regulatory challenge that requires organizations to show the state of their storage system.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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