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Mission Impossible: Restoring Exchange in 30 Seconds

Application restore that is: full data is something else

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Users can use a crashed Exchange server 30 seconds after restoration is started using a new BakBone RDP product which works with SQL Server too. What clever trick is being used?

BakBone's NetVault: Real-Time Data Protector (RDP) product actually restores the application first and then streams the data in afterwards. Full recovery takes a lot longer than 30 seconds but users can start working before restoration is completed. If they request access to data - a mail folder or mail or database record - that hasn't yet been restored, the request is intercepted and used to ensure that the requested data is restored next. The RDP product does this when restoring a Windows file system too.

Chris Ross, BakBone's VP and GM for EMEA, said: "We can do RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective) in one product. That's unique. Everyone else is either a point or a time."

BakBone used to be a traditional backup software and tape company. It's responded to the arrival of disk by extending its software to support disk as a target, to offer continuous data protection, and to provide a one-shot backup of apps like Exchange from which both the full Exchange app and individual folders and e-mails can be restored. This capability of being Exchange app-aware has been used to provide the RDP fast recovery capability.

A one-size-fits-all backup approach is no longer optimum for apps like Exchange and SQL Server which have become more complex with rising data volume. BakBone has produced plug-in modules for its NetVault backup product to support app-aware backup and restore for SharePoint and VMware, with support for VMotion-moved VMs, as well as Exchange.

The VMware plug-in used the first release of the recently announced vStorage APIs and will be updated to use the new set, and to support VMware's concept of a virtual O/S.

This idea of having backup software having app-specific extensions is very nice - if you are using a mainstream app, which Exchange is. Other backup SW vendors do the same thing: Symantec's Backup Exec has its Exchange extensions with varying granularity recovery. Tier one market-leading apps will get the app plug-ins but the rest won't. They will get the basic one-size-fits-all backup. At least that is to disk these days and not to much slower tape.

Like a lot of other backup software suppliers BakBone has extended its offer to include replication - NetVault : Replicator - and also storage resource management reporting - NetVault: Report Manager. This seems to be a customer retention strategy as much as a chase-other-revenue-sources one as many of the vendors with originally point products in the data protection spectrum are expanding sideways and threatening to encroach into BakBone's customers.

Chris Ross, BakBone's VP and GM for EMEA, said: "We're looking at a host of other areas. ... We've been focussed on apps. Windows is a rich target for this and that's where we've started."

Obviously one move could be to extend its Windows-focussed NetVault offerings out to Unix and Linux. Another might be to add archiving functions. We asked Ross about this and indexing and search. He said: "(NetVault Backup) has a search capability in it, so an admin can mount an old copy of Exchange for explorative searching." The cagey guy wouldn't say anything about BakBone adding a specific NetVault: Archive offering though.

By the way RDP for SQL Server and SharePoint are probably good bets. ®

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