StorageTek's EchoView iSCSI Appliance Promises Continuous Backup -

StorageTek's EchoView iSCSI Appliance Promises Continuous Backup

StorageTek has launched a data protection iSCSI appliance that the company claims continuously protects data while it is being created, allowing customers to eliminate the backup window and to recover more easily from failures.

There is a "risk window" between the time data is created and when it is first backed up, and during that period data is most valuable, says Bill Chait, senior product market manager for StorageTek. The company created its new EchoView data protection product to address this critical window of time.

EchoView is a disk-based data protection system that continuously echoes changes as they happen, Chait affirms, eliminating the backup window, the risk of data loss, and downtime.

The "Echo" part is a simple "filter" device driver that continuously captures all disk writes and asynchronously sends them to the EchoView server via iSCSI (a Fibre Channel product is planned for later; Chait maintains the initial target audience is mid-tier firms that haven't made a big investment in Fibre Channel yet).

The "View" part of the appliance journals all writes to disk on the EchoView server, making them available back to the protected server as views and mounting them as additional volumes on the protected server.

The result is not only instantaneous backup, but the ability to go back and recover data from many points in time -- a significant improvement over mirroring, snapshot, or simple disk-to-disk backup. Rapid recovery is achieved by a user-friendly Windows Explorer interface.

"Disk-to-disk backup and mirroring are becoming critical components in companies' data protection and business continuity efforts," states Richard Villars, vice president for Storage Systems at IDC. "The addition of EchoView to StorageTek's existing portfolio of data protection solutions is a confirmation of disk-based backup systems improving cost effectiveness and interoperability with existing tape-based backup hardware and software solutions."

Aims Community College in Greeley, Colo., has been testing an early copy of EchoView since January. In February, the college experienced a data corruption event and lost its help desk database.

"Our team was able to restore the database to minutes before the corruption took place," said David Urano, Aims Data Center operations manager. "In this real-world experience, EchoView met and exceeded our expectations. We are very pleased with the product."

Data Protection via Innovative Data "Views"

EchoView protects data at the block level by saving it to cost-effective secondary disk, StorageTek says. It backs up views of the data rather than live data, allowing users to completely eliminate the backup window. EchoView timestamps and journals each update, giving it the ability to present virtual views of each protected volume as that data appeared at any previous point in time. This gives users the ability to recover at disk-to-disk speeds to a point in time just before a data loss occurred.

EchoView protects data stored on any vendor's disk and has been successfully tested with several leading vendors' backup and restore software, according to the company. It differs from failover technology like mirroring in that it protects data against hardware and software failure, environmental disasters, malicious viruses, and end-user faults such as deletions and overwrites, the company claims.

EchoView is expected to ship in limited availability later this month. The first product in the EchoView family, the EchoView E400, protects approximately 400GB of customer data and will cost $50,000. The initial release supports Windows 2000 and Solaris clients, with additional client support for HP-UX, AIX, Linux, and Windows 2003 Server scheduled for later this year. Other products are planned for larger and smaller capacities.

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