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Microsoft Takes a Shot at Disk-Based Backup and Recovery

Microsoft is set to ship its first disk-based continuous data backup and recovery solution. The System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) is designed to back up data on Windows file servers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices as a series of up to 64 snapshots. The DPM is in late beta and due for release to manufacturing later this summer.

The DPM is a direct response to a shift in the storage market away from tape-based backup toward increasingly cheaper disks, says Ben Matheson, Microsoft’s group product manager.

“DPM doesn’t really replace anything," Matheson says. "It’s designed to be complementary. Ninety percent or more customers rely on tape backup, but when it comes time to do recovery, it’s slow and unreliable." Matheson adds that Microsoft is advocating a "disk-to-disk-to-tape backup scenario" for its customers.

Disk-based backup and recovery is generally much faster and less cumbersome than tape-based backup and recovery (and disks are much less likely to fall off the back of an archive outsourcer's delivery truck).

Microsoft is also touting the DPM's ease of use; it allows users to recover data directly from their desktops. Both factors should make the DPM attractive to small and mid-sized businesses, Matheson says.

“This is a great opportunity, not only for smaller companies to get real protection for their valuable business data, but for the resellers out there as well,” he says. “This shift is going to happen, and we are seeing tremendous demand for it already.”

Analysts at IDC estimate that, taken together, the backup and archive markets were worth $2.6 billion in 2004. IDC expects that market to hit $3.5 billion mark by 2009.

Microsoft comes late to this market. Oracle, Veritas, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates offer disk-based backup systems. But the software giant argues in this instance, later is better. While other vendors are offering what amount to tape-based systems retrofitted for disks, the DPM is designed from the ground up as a backup-to-disk system.

Microsoft is also expected to integrate the DPM into its Advanced Infrastructure competency, Systems Management specialization, one of 11 specializations of the Microsoft Partner Program. This integration will give partners access to online training, testing and certification, and materials to help them market their solutions, Microsoft says.

Microsoft announced the pending release of the DPM at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Minneapolis. The product had been in public beta for nearly three months, and Microsoft says the response has been positive. It has been distributed to more than 100,000 customers worldwide, including more than 50,000 downloads, the company says.

Microsoft is publishing an estimated retail price for the DPM of $950, which includes one server license and the management licenses to protect three file servers.

For more information and to download the beta, go to: www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/dpm/download/default.mspx.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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