EMC, HP in joint effort for backup and recovery technology

In a joint announcement Wednesday, EMC Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Co., unveiled a new combination of software and hardware for data backup and recovery under the moniker - EMC Fastrax. The new offering performs the movement of backup and recovery data between EMC Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems and industry standard tape libraries.

The new Fastrax platform is the direct result of what Phil Tsihlis, EMC's marketing manager for enterprise backup solutions, calls a tightly integrated joint development between EMC and HP's OpenView engineering teams. Fastrax combines EMC and third-party software, open application programming interfaces (APIs) and data movement hardware. Fastrax lets customers using the HP OpenView OmniBack II backup/recovery application to leverage their existing investments in backup software, human resources and operating procedures.

EMC contends that traditional tape backup implementations don't cut the mustard when it comes to data recovery. "Data backup and recovery is one of the largest issues facing our customers today," said Tsihlis during a press conference yesterday. "Traditional methodologies are somewhat behind the ever-increasing content growth our customers are facing. The technology hasn't kept up."

Tsihlis said that EMC's Fastrax and HP's OmniBack, together, have the capability for non-disruptive backup and rapid data recovery. "Traditional tape backups facilitate non-disruptive backups, but not rapid recovery."

"From the standpoint of storage management appliances and data movers, this is not a 'huge' innovation. It uses a SAN appliance and we will see more of them in coming weeks and months," said John Webster, Analyst and IT Advisor, Illuminata, Inc. "Fastrax is more about breaking the data center operations barrier. When databases get to be 200G Bytes or more they become unwieldy to backup and restore. This addresses that problem specifically for EMC customers."

EMC customers can choose between disk-based solutions, tape-based solutions or a combination of the two depending on their data recovery objectives. Customers can implement TimeFinder, SRDF, EMC Data Manager (EDM), Fastrax or integrated combinations of the above to meet their needs for instant recovery of data and to backup and restore less-critical information at high speeds. Fastrax is aimed at customers that are currently backing up their data over a local area Network (LAN) with an impact on their production environment. Fastrax is available immediately with a price tag of $574,000.

While the Fastrax price tag is more than $500,000, the two companies maintain that the investment will have a big return. The payoff comes by reducing the backup server's role to command and control purposes only, resulting in the need for smaller and fewer backup servers and eliminating the need for constant software installation, server maintenance and management costs.

Sonia Diez Moran, product manager for Fastrax integration for HP OpenView said that the biggest benefit is the ease of use and implementation of the solution. She said that there is little or no operator involvement necessary on a regular basis as well as the bonus of no operational changes or retraining required for the Fastrax/OmniBack offering.

According to EMC, Fastrax enables tape-based back up of the largest Oracle databases with no impact to host servers, applications or data access, which are often a major source of conflict and complexity in backup operations. Fastrax backups take place while the same data is being used by production applications. The backup and recovery application determines what data needs to be backed up, and then Fastrax and Symmetrix software transparently determine which data needs to move to tape and which needs to go to the active database. Additionally, multiple backups can be started and run concurrently.

Tsihlis said that EMC's sales force will be the first to hit the pavement with the offering with HP to follow. When questioned about EMC and HP working together in the past, Tsihlis said that while HP has made a previous decision not to resell EMC gear, the engineering relationship never went away. "Our engineering engagements have continued, focused on the needs of our mutual, existing customers in order to drive enhanced value of our products."

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor
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