Microsoft Dives into Data Protection


UPDATED: Microsoft entered the disk-based backup and recovery market with the launch of Data Protection Server (DPS) at Storage Decisions 2004 in Chicago today.

The new server improves the efficiency of retrieving files and safeguards data in its Windows Server System family. It also helps administrators use such Windows Server products as the Active Directory service, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003.

The DPS release comes at a time when concerns about protecting information have been heightened due to record retention regulations.

Rakesh Narasimhan, general manager of Data Protection Server at Microsoft, said the server provides rapid backup and recovery on disks, allowing administrators and end users to recoup data in minutes rather than hours.

"Customers continue to tell us that there is a need for dependable, easy to use and affordable solutions for disk-based data protection," Narasimhan told "Customers told us the savings they need in costs and time. Recovery is often unreliable and painful. We've seen recovery take hours to days when it should be seconds to minutes."

The executive said technology isn't entirely to blame here, noting that infrastructure and manual labor make backing up data complex. Because of the well-publicized explosion of data, Narasimhan said IT administrators are struggling to deal with the ever shrinking backup window, making speedy, low-cost disk backup more attractive.

Enter DPS, which also integrates with tape through a backup interface based on the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) API included in Windows Server 2003. It will allow tape back-up partners, such as StorageTek, to address their customer needs for backup and recovery in Windows environments.

Alex Gorbansky, senior analyst at the Taneja Group, said using disks for data protection helps ramp up data-recovery time over legacy tape approaches. He also said that while Microsoft may compete with some of its partners in certain accounts, the industry is moving toward a model where rivals coexist and work together to serve customers.

"People want to introduce a disk tier to speed up recovery, reduce management, reduce back-up windows and overall cost of back-up management," Gorbanksy told "Microsoft is giving people the opportunity with Data Protection Server to back up file servers to disk-based mediums but maintain their existing investments in back-up software, whether its Legato or CA or Veritas.

"If I'm a Legato user, I use Data Protection Server to backup my data to disk and use Legato to archive it to tape," Gorbanksy continued. "To some extent, this is going to be competitive because Legato and Veritas have introduced these things called advance back-up modules, which enable you to backup data to disk. But that's not going to be a huge issue. Of course, this only applies to homogenous Microsoft environments. Back-up vendors can still maintain their presence in the shop."

More than 20 partners in the storage space have blessed DPS, recognizing the sweeping sphere of influence Microsoft's server software has in the industry. Support partners include EMC , Computer Associates and Hitachi Data Systems .

Currently available in a beta version, DPS is scheduled to be generally available in the second half of 2005, with pricing to be determined.


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