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First Look: Asigra Televaulting for Enterprises

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Asigra offers volume-based pricing for its agentless remote backup application

@exb

At a Glance: Asigra Televaulting for Enterprises

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What it is:
Distributed backup/recovery software.
What it does:
Automated, centralized backup of data residing at remote sites.
Upside:
Eliminates need for tape backup at each remote location.
Downside:
Requires the assembly of what amounts to an appliance at each location.
New features:
Compression, encryption, SRM functions and chargeback.
Cost:
Starts at $11,250, based on amount of data centrally stored.
Available:
Now.
@exe Toronto-based Asigra Inc.'s Televaulting for Enterprises provides a centrally managed, distributed approach to backup that uses what amounts to an appliance at each remote location. The appliance--Asigra's DS-Client software loaded onto any Linux or Windows server--collects the data to be backed up from every system it can access, filters out redundant data, compresses and encrypts what remains, and sends it over a WAN to a central storage site. It can then be stored on disk and backed up to tape.

Asigra cites two features that make Televaulting for Enterprises appealing: a capacity-based pricing model and agentless backup. Pricing is based on the amount of compressed, aggregated data stored in the central vault. Companies don't pay for the number of backup agents deployed, backup servers or slots in a tape library, which are typical pricing metrics for many backup products.

In practice, enterprises can deploy the free Asigra backup client software on a spare server in each remote location from which it wants to back up data. There's even a lightweight version for laptop use.

You could argue that the free client software at each location represents an agent, negating Asigra's agentless claim. However, unlike conventional agent software, you only need one copy of the software to back up every target system at the site, provided the backup server can access the target systems over the local network.

The software minimizes the amount of data to be backed up. It identifies changed files and backs up only the new or changed binary bits. It eliminates duplicate files, a process Asigra calls common file elimination. Finally, it compresses and encrypts the data to be backed up. Designed for use over a WAN, Asigra keeps the data stream so low organizations actually can use a DSL connection for a small location, says David Farajun, Asigra's CTO and founder.

Finally, the system consolidates the backup data coming in from dozens of sites on the centralized Asigra Televaulting DS-System server in the corporate data center. The DS-System server is then backed up as part of the enterprise's usual data protection policies.

"The pricing is a very big thing. In the end, this comes in at a much lower price point," says Marc Staimer, principal, Dragon Slayer Consulting. Competitive products include EVault and LiveVault. "All the vendors are trying to go agentless," he adds.

Asigra's software includes a billing system to enable IT to charge back for backup services. Quotas can also be set, based on volume or dollar amounts. "Asigra was built to be delivered by the service provider model," says Stacy Hayes, VP of business development and operations at DS3 DataVaulting, Fairfax, VA, which offers Asigra Televaulting as an option for its customers.

Although Staimer hasn't determined how well the system scales, Asigra insists scalability is no problem. "We handle multiple mount points to get over file system limitations. The system is architected as a performance cluster or N+1 grid in which hosts are added simply as nodes," explains Farajun. Notes Hayes: "We can easily scale this to six to 12 terabytes."

For companies wrestling with widely dispersed offices requiring tape backup, Asigra Televaulting for Enterprises promises a cost-effective solution.

This was first published in November 2004

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