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

Written By: Peter Williams
Published:
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.