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Computer Associates has prepped a new version of the BrightStor ARCserve Backup product for Windows, touting tighter links to Microsoft's latest server operating system and a host of performance improvements with the release.

Talking to El Reg, David Liff, vice president of storage marketing at CA, proudly described the joint work between CA and Microsoft for BrightStor ARCserver Backup r11. And with good reason. CA hopes to encroach on Veritas' turf in the backup market - a task made none too easy by Veritas' close relationship with Microsoft. Windows Server 2003 happens to ship with a low-end version of Veritas' back-up software.

With that in mind, CA wants to prove it can make the BrightStor product as easy to use as possible, while still delivering some fairly complex features.

"We've done a lot with Microsoft for this launch," Liff said. "We implemented a lot of technology in the way that Microsoft likes it implemented."

Ah-ha.

Exactly what does this mean? Well, first off, CA customers will now be able to tap the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) that is built into Windows Server 2003. This lets users make "on-the-fly" snapshots of open volumes and data sets.

CA has additionally tuned BrightStor to play well with Exchange. Admins can now set up a single instance store function on Exchange servers, which ensures only one copy of a shared attachment will be stored. This clearly helps cut down on the amount of storage that must be managed.

CA has fine-tuned its user interface for setting up mailbox back-ups as well, giving customers a GUI similar to Internet Explorer. Admins can select a mailbox and then use a host of new filtering tools to, for example, block storing 'sent' and 'trash' items or to block files with particular extensions - MP3s, anyone. There is also a new search function that lets users sort through four years of mail, looking for references to a particular contract or presentation, for example. This tool is meant to keep the Feds happy should they come inquiring about details from past deals.

Customers looking to speed up backup times could find a new multiplexing tool helpful. CA has made it possible to write multiple backups to the same tape drive. On average, CA reckons customers will see a 3 to 4 fold speed up.

Along with the performance boost, CA has given customers access to more than 30 reports that track when backups have been completed, if there were any errors and how well hardware systems are performing.

In total, CA has created a product that matches up well with anything out on the market. Sophisticated users should fine just about everything they need for making sure backups are happening as planned and be able to learn how storage is being consumed within their company. CA has created tighter links between its own product lines as well, especially its laptop and desktop backup software and high-end storage management code.

While tuned for Microsoft, BrightStor works with NetWare, Linux, Unix and MAC OS X servers and clihents. It starts at $775. ®

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