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Data Centers get 'black box' flight data recorder

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It's like airplane's "black box" flight data recorder. But it's for data centers.

Israeli startup Axxana has developed an black box recorder to store enterprise data in real-time, so that it's recoverable in the event of a data center disaster.

When disasters strike data centers, data that has not yet been transmitted to a disaster recovery site is lost. Axxana's Phoenix System is a hardened and disaster-proof, 180kg enclosure, built to withstand the equivalent of the extreme conditions in a jet plane crash. It is hooked up to the storage system at a data center and records a synchronous data stream from that storage, on its own internal solid state drive storage, at the same time as that data is replicated asynchronously to a remote site. Axxana says the result is rapid post-disaster application recovery, with no data loss whatsoever. It won't however promise 100 per cent data protection.

If a disaster happens, the Phoenix can be recovered and data extracted from it by "physically locating the system by tracking the homing signal and connecting a laptop with an Axxana software component to the Phoenix System at the disaster site" or by the Phoenix system "transferring the data to the secondary site using highly resilient cellular broadband technology." It contains a hardened and protected cellular modem, batteries and antennae.

The result is rapid post-disaster application recovery, with Axxana claiming the Phoenix can withstand any disaster short of an atomic explosion and, specifically:

  • Direct flames at 2000°F for one hour followed by 450°F for an additional 6 hours
  • Pressure of 5000lb
  • pierce force of a 500lb rod dropped from 10ft
  • 30ft of water pressure
  • A shock of 40G.

Axxana calls its technology Enterprise Data Recording (EDR) and says it "eliminates the need for very high bandwidth required for synchronous replication and the need to maintain peak level bandwidth at all times." You can download a white paper about it from here (pdf).

The company was founded in 2005 by three people. One is Dr. Alex Winokur, its Chief Technology Officer, and an IBM master inventor. He came to Axxana from XIV, acquired by IBM, where he was the CTO, and he was previously a co-founder of deduplication company Sepaton. The second is Dan Hochberg, Axxana's EVP for business development and sales, who was previously at Radvision. Axxana's CEO and third co-founder is Eli Efrat.

Interestingly, its board of advisors includes the so-called father of the Symmetrix and an XIV founder, Moshe Yanai. He was also involved with dedupication vendor Diligent and sold it and XIV to IBM. Another advisor is Fred van den Bosch, the former CTO of Veritas. Yanai has said this about Axxana's technology: "It is for the first time that I see a solution that enables a failover site at any distance with the ability to absolutely recover all transactions."

Axxana has just raised $4m in a second round of funding. Yanai was involved in this second funding round which took its total funding to $10m.

Axxana has just been recognised by Gartner as a cool vendor in the disaster recovery area. It is partnering with storage vendors and shipped its first product to an Israeli company in January. Axxana by the way is a Hebrew word for storage. ®

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