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Microsoft's storage division has pulled off a rare feat by making a beta version of a new product available on time.

Microsoft managed to deliver the controversial Data Protection Server in the "early part of 2005" as promised by putting the beta up for download today. However, Microsoft didn't deliver Data Protection Server at all - but rather the newly named Data Protection Manager (DPM).

Microsoft first discussed DPS, er, DPM last September. The software runs on a Windows 2003 Server box and handles basic file server backup tasks. The software is meant to give smaller customers a quicker, easier way than tape to manage backups. This is a natural follow on to the base storage operating system Microsoft has delivered in recent years.

The controversial bit about the product is that it steps on the toes of Microsoft partners such as Veritas, CA and EMC. Some companies such as CA have said they're not really all that bothered by Microsoft's presence in the data protection racket, while other companies like Veritas are notably silent on the subject. In this case, silence speaks volumes.

For the moment, DPM isn't much of a threat. It's pretty low-end, only works with Windows servers and, heck, isn't even on the market. Microsoft plans to remedy that last bit in the second half of 2005, selling the software for under $1,000 per server.

Like most Windows backup products on the market, DPM will look for file changes on servers and then backup those changes to a central disk. Customers can typically pull up this archived data off disk much quicker than with tape. Data that needs to be held over the long haul still goes to tape, but DPM can handle the far more common short-term recovery requests. In addition, DPM gives companies a Windows management GUI they are familiar with.

The third-party software makers like CA and Veritas can build tools that tap right into DPM and any serious customer will likely stick with third-party gear in the near future.

There's more on DMP available here. ®

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