Microsoft Gets Into The CDP Game

Microsoft will officially launch its first backup and recovery product late Tuesday, a near-continuous data protection (CDP) application.

Data Protection Manager (DPM) is loaded onto servers running Windows Server 2003 or Windows Storage Server 2003. The server is then added to the storage environment for greater data protection.

DPM can work with just about any standard disk or storage configuration, said Ben Matheson, group product manager for Data Protection Manager. “If it works with Windows Server, we’ll work with it,” he said.

After an initial set-up and backup, DPM saves only byte-level changes, making it “very efficient and very fast,” said Matheson. Microsoft released test results from VeriTest showing that DPM is four to 12 times faster than tape-based data protection for backup and recovery.

DPM continually logs changes, but replicates data at most only once per hour, leaving as much as an hour of data vulnerable to loss. Still, Matheson takes issue with those who claim they can deliver the CDP ideal of continuous backup and recovery to any point in time.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who really does that today,” Matheson said. “There are a lot of people out there who claim to offer CDP who really don’t.”

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, said DPM — which he calls “K-CDP” for “kinda CDP” — “mainstreams the concept of CDP. In reality it will cause more confusion and problems than it solves for a while, but it will at least keep the topic on the front page.”

Response to Microsoft’s new offering has been impressive. There have been about 60,000 downloads of the beta, and Duplessie reports that “100 percent of people we researched who were familiar with DPM said they planned on evaluating it. 100 percent. We’ve never seen a number like that before.”

DPM provides central management of backup and recovery, but it also lets end users do their own recovery — the application integrates with Windows XP and Office 2003.

Pricing starts at $950 for one server license and the management licenses to protect three file servers.

HP, Fujitsu Siemens and Quantum will offer products based on DPM, and CommVault, Yosemite and Computer Associates will offer software solutions to complete the archiving scenario for DPM data.

A 1 terabyte solution from HP costs about $6,000, which Matheson said compares to proprietary solutions that can cost upwards of $50,000. “It’s a very cost-effective alternative,” he said.

Other partners include AMD, Dell, EqualLogic and Intel.

Microsoft envisions DPM in a disk-to-disk-to-tape backup and archiving environment, with tape used as the final step for off-site archiving. It offers simple features such as a red or green dot to let users know if they’re protected, instead of having to read through an event log. Ideal markets for DPM are mid-sized data centers with five to 99 servers and remote offices of larger enterprises, Matheson said.

“It’s very simple to deploy,” he said. “Even a layman could get this thing up and running.”

Microsoft released a number of case studies showing the benefits of DPM.

San Francisco Unified School District, for example, will save $100,000 in its first year with DPM because it won’t have to hire staff to conduct backups. The City of New York Department of Sanitation reduced by 98 percent the amount of time required to back up its servers and greatly reduced the number of failed backup jobs. Des Moines Public Schools cut time spent on backup by more than 20 percent and expects to save the Iowa school district $135,000 in the first year.

Microsoft’s own IT department expects to save at least $2.7 million in the first two years of DPM deployment by removing tape-based hardware and software from 130 branch offices. The company found that the eight-hour backup required by its Portland, Ore., branch office to protect 300 gigabytes of data to tape has been reduced to about 10 minutes using DPM.

Microsoft also announced the beta release of Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, targeted for release to manufacturing by the end of 2005, and its intent to build solutions from storage industry partners.

Also, to address the growing needs of branch offices, industry partners such as Brocade, Network Engines and Tacit Networks will be offering branch office appliance solutions built on the Windows Server platform.

Radhesh Balakrishnan, group product manager for Windows Server, said Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 will include new features such as document collaboration with SharePoint, index-based search, and single-instance storage to optimize capacity. Branch office and distributed file system technology will also be updated.

The announcements, including DPM, are all part of Microsoft’s new Universal Distributed Storage strategy, Balakrishnan said. The goal, he said, is to provide customers with cost-effective, cutting-edge Windows-based storage solutions that are available on industry-standard hardware from multiple partners, and to “ensure that Windows can manage storage more cost-effectively than any other platform.”

For more on Data Protection Manager, visit

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Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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