October 3, 2011

Information Week

Actifio Reexamines Data Protection, Disaster Recovery

Actifio Reexamines Data Protection, Disaster Recovery

Appliance reduces the amount of data stored, eliminates backup windows.

Startup Actifio announced Monday its Actifio Protection and Availability Storage (PAS), a radical new approach to data protection and management. The Actifio PAS is an x86-based appliance and software that virtualizes data from different silos and then makes virtual copies of data for data protection, disaster recovery, and business continuity. It works on the principal that too many copies of the same data are made to protect a business. Copies of data are made for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and business intelligence applications. Copies are made for testing and development. Snapshots and replicas of data are made for disaster recovery and business continuity.

There are plenty of cloud services, but many rely on virtual processes running on shared systems. Stratascale's Ironscale lets you provision bare metal services. Mike Fratto provides a hands-on review of how it works and what you can do with it.These multiple types of data copies are kept in separate and distinct data silos and managed by different applications, with separate silos for backup, snapshots, virtual machine images, and archival storage.

"There are two types of data in our organizations: production data and copies of production data," says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. "Each one of [the] business functions has its own silo of infrastructure with its own storage, housing its own copies of the exact same data."

PAS can be added to existing infrastructures, where it automatically discovers the applications and servers in a storage area network. Based on the information it discovers, IT managers can create service level agreements (SLAs) and policies that specify how often data is copied, how long it is kept, and where it is stored.

Based on the SLAs defined for applications or systems, data can be recovered to virtual volumes, a clone, or to primary storage. Virtual volume clones can be created for testing and development, quality assurance, or a point-in-time copy of the data.

PAS runs on the Actifio appliance, where it combines the functions of backup, snapshots, cloning, replication compression, and deduplication that is working on one set of data. The appliance can be configured in a scale-out fashion and supports one to eight servers with a total capacity of 8 petabytes. The appliance also uses Actifio's DeDup Async technology, which eliminates the movement of duplicate data and reduces network bandwidth.

The Actifio appliance captures only changed blocks of data and stores only blocks of data that are unique. It then moves only the unique blocks and can recreate data on demand for incremental restoration of data for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Actifio PAS supports VMware, Windows Server, and Microsoft SQL Server, as well as AIX, Solaris, Linux, and VMS. It also works with Microsoft's Hyper-V and many cloud gateways.

Actifio's PAS starts at $80,000 and is priced on the amount of data protected.

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.