Microsoft and Veritas start 'continuous' backup battle

EMC loves disk too

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Recognizing that tape backups have fried many a storage administrator's nerves, giants Microsoft, Symantec - aka Veritas - and EMC have this week come rushing to market with a number of packages meant to make disk backups easy.

The squabble at hand is a busy one as Microsoft has traditionally left more complex storage software to its partners. Redmond's push deeper into the backup market with its introduction of System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) has Symantec and EMC begging for attention. True enough, Symantec and EMC have far more experience and better names in the storage game than Microsoft, but few companies - especially Microsoft partners - like to see the monopolist take aim at parts of their business.

In a shocking show of good form, Microsoft delivered DPM "in the second half of 2005" as promised. The software sells for $950 per server, including a management license to cover three file servers, and backs up and restores Windows files. Users can even restore their own files using DPM without nagging an administrator by performing a search via Windows Explorer.

“Backup has been the bane of IT professionals for decades,” said Bob Muglia, SVP of Windows Server at Microsoft. “Disk-based data protection provides a revolution in providing continuous backup and fast recovery of data.  Data Protection Manager will help usher in this new era of disk-based data protection."

But while he says "continuous," he really means "near-continuous" or, dare we say it, "kinda continuous".

Like its partners/competitors, Microsoft relies on its own Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) for data snapshots. So, customers can really only take eight snapshots a day and never more than one per hour.

Instead of grimacing over Microsoft's continuous claims, customers may want to focus on the more immediate benefits DPM shows. Microsoft reckons the software can help recover a file close to 12x faster than when using tape and related backup software and can run an incremental backup close to 4x faster than with tape.

AMD, CommVault, CA, Dell, EqualLogic, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, Intel, Quantum and Yosemite Technologies all lined up to voice their support for the new software. You'll notice the obvious, traditional storage allies missing from that list.

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