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BMC buys into continuous data protection

IT management firm BMC partnered with disaster recovery startup XOsoft to sell continuous data protection (CDP) technology as part of BMC's backup software. This is the latest in a string of recent partnerships by major systems vendors around CDP, but IT pros are still trying to sift through the maze of products.

BMC Software plans to roll out a suite of tools based on continuous data protection (CDP) technology from backup software startup XOsoft.

The technology is designed to help companies replicate data while keeping the two sets in sync. In the instance of a glitch or disaster, the software allows you to roll back data to a previous point in time at a very granular level.

Houston-based BMC, known for its infrastructure management software, is using the partnership to enhance its backup and recovery tool, BMC SQL-BackTrack. According to XOsoft president, Tom O'Connell, BMC is taking on all of the integration costs.

O'Connell said despite the partnership, Waltham, Mass.-based XOsoft is not opposed to customers coming to them directly and there are no talks of BMC acquiring XOsoft at this time.

"BMC's salesforce gives us geographic reach and breadth," O'Connell said, explaining how the deal benefits a small software vendor. And by partnering with XOsoft, BMC can get the product to the market faster than if it were to try to develop it on its own.

Other vendors have bought or partnered their way into the CDP market lately, including EMC and Hewlett-Packard, recently partnering with Fremont, Calif.-based Mendocino Software for a similar offering.

What is CDP?

O'Connell said IT pros had educated themselves on CDP in 2005 and that 2006 will be the year of adoption. But experts say CDP, like any new IT concept, is defined by the particular vendor selling it.

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The components of business continuity

"CDP is one of those terms like virtualization," Charles King, principal analyst with Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research said. "It depends on the vendor you're talking to when it comes to what CDP means and what the capabilities are."

Companies are throwing the term around to mean anything from automatically backing up PCs for remote employees to full database replication and rewind. Some companies offer snapshots of data with large gaps of up to 60 minutes, others can rewind data back to specific minutes or seconds. Some offerings are actually appliances and others are strictly software.

According to the definition from the Storage Networking Industry Association: "CDP is a methodology that continuously captures or tracks data modifications and stores changes independent of the primary data, enabling recovery points from any point in the past. CDP systems may be block-, file- or application-based and can provide fine granularities of restorable objects to infinitely variable recovery points."

Who makes it?

The market for CDP ranges far and wide and includes everyone from major systems vendors and storage companies to startups:

  • XOSoft has a couple of CDP products: WANSync and Enterprise Rewinder. Both are focused on server data protection.
  • IBM's offering targets remote workers who need file backups with its Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files. IBM's software is focused on PCs.
  • The Mendocino Software version offered by HP and EMC is an appliance-based offering, as is the CPS 1200 product from Lexington, Mass.-based Revivo. Those offerings are focused on server protection.
  • Microsoft and Symantec are also offering near-CDP, which provides snapshots at longer intervals.

    What will it do for you?

    Many analysts are bullish on CDP, especially Gartner who said CDP will decrease the recovery time and the amount of data lost in outages.

    "Enterprises are becoming increasingly dependent on business applications, and even the shortest of outages may have a severe financial impact," stated Dave Russell, research director at Gartner in a statement from XOsoft. "Therefore it is imperative that enterprises deploy well-managed data protection solutions that include CDP technologies."

    According to King, a formal, automated backup process does make a lot of sense and is an absolute necessity in the case of public companies thanks to compliance. "Businesses are just trying to get their heads around the sheer amount of data that's being backed up. Anything that will automate that will help," King said.

    Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, News Editor

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