ColdSpark and FASTRecover help change BakBone’s game

Written By: Peter Williams
Published:
Content Copyright © 2009 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

BakBone Software,
long recognised for its flagship NetVault product families primarily focused on
backup and recovery, recently splashed out to acquire ColdSpark and the
technology from Asempra as part of its new strategic direction which it
describes as Universal Data Management (UDM I presume). Then, earlier this
month it launched NetVault: FASTRecover to eliminate backup windows (more of
which in a moment).

BakBone’s UDM
breaks down into three discrete but inter-linking areas; its existing
integrated data protection (IDP) and the new Centralised Policy Management (CPM?)
and Message Management. It is designed to allow a company to directly control
and apply policies to its data. In itself that is not too revolutionary, but
customers will be able to do this irrespective of the applications that create,
alter or interface with the data—while it is on the move across the network as
well as at rest.

IDP is a long-used
BakBone acronym covering the data security, availability and retention and
has been implemented through its NetVault: Backup suite. It covers all virtual
and physical storage environments. It is essentially about static data.

“[UDM] is a much
more holistic view,” Andrew Brewerton, BakBone’s EMEA technical director, told
me. “Information on the move is very important, whether it’s entering the
company or transient.”

He said the aim
was to deal with how the data moves in and out of the organisation as well as
how it was stored, removed and deleted. I should mention that not all of this has
suddenly been put in place as yet; I think it broadly provides a roadmap for
the coming year.

It is CPM (I am
saving ink here) that covers the creation, maintenance and application of
management policies to apply across an enterprise’s data. One way it will do
this is to allow applications to inherit global data policies and apply them
related to such things as de-duplication, encryption, message archiving and
data loss prevention.

It was ColdSpark that
brought in the bulk of the Message Management element with its e-mail
processing and delivery solutions aimed at enterprises. It addresses
complexities in tracking messaging (including the fact that most e-mails are
now application generated).

“If you take
Exchange in large environments you may have 10 or 20 Exchange servers to
present to the user, and possibly 10s or 100s instances of Exchange covering
potentially millions of messages—with some doing nothing but routing,” said
Brewerton. “What ColdSpark does is reduce this, by taking thousands down to one
or two or high performance boxes—and inside a policy engine.”

I have not got as
far as finding out exactly how it achieves this, but I can see this scenario is
very costly and that the software could quickly pay for itself; not least in
savings in Exchange licences. The software enables monitoring and optimising of
enterprise message performance—combining with message archiving,
classification and customer message communication.

By initial header content
analysis it can apply a policy so that, for instance, in-bound messages such as
spam can be diverted or archived. Likewise, outbound policies can be applied.
The main aim is not to flood the mailboxes.

By being
integrated with CPM and IDP, it is able to better control infrastructure
performance at the same time as improving overall data availability and policy
compliance levels. Much of the linkage will be through new open APIs which will
facilitate applying the new features for existing NetVault: Backup users as
well as making inroads into enterprises that are non BakBone.

NetVault:
FASTRecover is essentially a re-branding of the very advanced NetVault:
Real-Time Data Protector (NVRDP) launched late last year—which Bloor recently
evaluated. NVRDP, which uses the
newly-acquired Asempra technology, is stand-alone; but the new name
demonstrates BakBone’s commitment to make it more closely integrated with the
rest of the NetVault suite over time.

What this provides
is continuous data protection (CDP), with integrated snapshots (unusual), for Microsoft
Exchange, SQL Server and Windows file system data—but the unique and, to me, exciting
part is its ability to achieve recovery to live within a couple of minutes (the
minimum around 30 seconds). This almost completely overcomes the concern with
CDP (for these Windows environments) that, while it normally eliminates a need
for backup windows (except, say, once a week late at night), when recovery is
needed after a glitch this can take hours. It is therefore very easy for me to
see a rapid ROI payback.

As a software only
company, BakBone can provide NetVault: FASTRecover as software-only to run on
existing equipment. On the other hand, it runs very effectively as a
pre-configured appliance that includes hardware, software and storage. So
BakBone is now offering the option of hardware purchased either directly from
BakBone or through a BakBone reseller. The plug-and-play options minimise the
need for installation and ongoing management expertise—and appliances are
available in different sizes to fit for all organisations up to large
enterprises.

BakBone has, in the
past, rightly focused on a very integrated, feature rich and reliable data set;
this provides a sound data structure to build on. The acquisitions are a hint
that it is becoming more innovative and (perhaps) adventurous. Its trick is to
integrate the new features so as to reduce the overall administrative burden—but keeping the system simple enough for its large, loyal user base to remain
happy. I will watch with interest to see how this all pans out over the coming
year.