CA Recovery Management r12 converges backup, high availability and DR - and maybe the market

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Written By: Peter Williams
Published: 11th February, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Looked at closely, a huge amount of development must have gone into CA Recovery Manager r12, released last week. The new versions of CA ARCserve, CA XOsoft Replication, XOsoft High Availability and XOsoft Assured Recovery that form part of the package represent a major refresh and consolidation of these long-established solutions.

CA asserts that Recovery Manager's objective is to balance data management risks and costs by allowing companies to set the levels of data protection in accordance with whether the information is mission critical (such as in real-time trading), nearly so (for instance internal applications and databases), or less critical, as needed for compliance retention and archiving.

So under the Recovery Manager umbrella, the user can select backup (and recovery), replication with continuous data protection (CDP), automated application failover and even disaster recovery (DR) testing. Recovery Manager controls these functions from one central location. Data can be replicated or moved between sites and locations, and the new CDP provides any point in time recovery.

CA Recovery Manager is a tangible fruit of CA's overarching Enterprise IT Management (EITM) strategy as it brings together previously disparate but related software products under one ‘capability solution’ umbrella. So much is new between these systems that it is difficult to know where to start. (So clearly, those considering upgrade should first ensure the new release carries no serious teething problems.)

Before looking at the detail, my first impression is of a logical, well thought through development, especially attractive to multi-site businesses wanting to control operations centrally.

It will also do much to protect CA's huge user base; for instance, the company boasts 350,000 ARCserve Backup users worldwide. Some of the features, such as CDP and centralised control, have been available for some time from competitors, so this is a needed catch-up; a few other increasingly popular features, like de-duplication, are not yet provided (except through third party appliances). However, there is far more that many potential competitors do not provide—and bringing replication, CDP, DR and backup/restore into the same regime addresses what are historically two parallel markets.

Here, briefly and in overview, is what is under the covers.

CA ARCserve Backup is a platform for long-term data retention and addresses application support. It scales from a single server to a whole enterprise infrastructure but, until r12, had not offered centralised control. Installation is improved and simplified with the help of wizards (as is true for the rest of the suite). Centralisation (which is optional), covers job queues, device management, database management, activity and alerting management and actionable reporting (highlighting processing problems to trigger remedial action).

ARCserve has enhanced encryption capability (including FIPS certified AES 256 bit) and, according to CA, this will not impact performance when being performed disk to disk to tape (D2D2T) or VTL. Other enhancements are new agents to backup MS SharePoint 2007 and multiple VMware sessions respectively; physical to virtual bare metal restores can also be achieved using the VMware agent.

CA is making much also of the new central ARCserve catalogue which uses MS SQL Server (or SQL Express) integrated database; CA says this is more robust, efficient and scalable than its previous database for holding the job and activity log, with lower impact, faster for browsing and searches, and takes less space.

Central licensing management allows licenses to be activated, de-activated and recorded from one management console while, out-of-the-box, ARCserve is now also integrated with CA XOsoft to give remote office and non-disruptive protection.

Finally, it is covered by a new simplified ‘value-based' licensing regime which CA believes is unique; one license will cover all backup requirements and will remain unchanged even if more hardware and/or software is added.

CA XOsoft Replication covers DR through asynchronous but real-time replication over WANs for files and databases while CA XOsoft High Availability has fully automated failover and failback for MS Exchange and SQL, Oracle, IIS and file servers; both these now come with integrated CDP. Again there is centralised and as well as web-based control. A non-disruptive zero-reboot upgrade capability will apply for subsequent releases after r12, so protecting a little against downtime. Synchronisation and replication performance have also been improved.

CA XOsoft Assured Recovery is the non-disruptive remote site automated DR testing capability, and this now works from a separate snapshot of the live data. It is controlled through a script or the ARCserve GUI. This is a powerful element which is probably unique in the industry right now.

The above does little more than scratch the surface of a huge package of upgrades, more attractive because they are logical and fit with the trend to centralised management within larger enterprises. Reports on performance from beta sites are also very good.

From CA's point of view, the integration of ARCserve and XOsoft means both sets of users should see the advantage of upgrading to embrace the extra technology; these users are low-hanging fruit and could alone make CA Recovery Manager r12 a runaway success. Other prospective purchasers may also prefer this route to having to support two vendors' products which may have little commonality.

An intriguing question is: will this approach carry enough momentum in the market to start a trend towards full convergence of backup/restore, high availability and DR software? There are some good reasons why it should.

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