Article

FalconStor takes the penalty out of snapshots

Kevin Komiega

Storage virtualization software maker FalconStor Software Inc., has a new trick up its virtual sleeve in the form of TimeMark, a new option for its IPStor software, which it said can eliminate the need for incremental tape backups.

According to Wayne Lam, spokesperson for the Melville, N.Y.-headquartered FalconStor, the purpose of TimeMark is to add another line of defense in the war against hardware failure and user error.

"Now that JBODs are so cheap, why not do incremental backups online?" asked Lam.

While full tape backups are usually done on weekends, incremental backups are performed on a daily basis in the course of a week. Lam said using TimeMark for incremental snapshots and storing the data on low-cost disks instead of tape is a better, more efficient way to protect against data loss.

Lam said using TimeMark adds granularity and speed to the incremental backup process. "You don't have to think of tape except on the weekend," he said.

TimeMark takes incremental snapshots of user data and only stores the changes in that data. The key, said Lam, is that there is no performance penalty for taking multiple, frequent snapshots.

"Tape used to be the cheapest medium," Lam said. "Now it would probably cost more to set up a tape backup [system] with the same capacity."

Aberdeen Group Inc.'s Dan Tanner, a senior storage analyst, said the low-to-zero impact of TimeMark is a valuable feature.

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"How frequently you snapshot has a direct bearing on how fast you can restore [your data]," said Tanner.

"[TimeMark] really makes it possible to take very frequent snapshots with little performance impact."

The TimeMark Option for IPStor, tracks multiple virtual images of the same disk marked by "time". For soft errors including accidental deletion of files and software/virus issues leading to data corruption, the only defense up to this point, said FalconStor, is a periodic backup to tape or other disks.

The company said IPStor's Zero-impact Backup Enabler Option and Database-Aware Snapshot Agent, can perform full image snapshot backups of live data with transactional integrity. A task which is performed once every weekend in typical data centers.

The TimeMark represents only the changes made to the primary disk and is only a small fraction of the primary disk size, said Lam. If the administrator needs to retrieve a deleted file or "undo" a data corruption, they can direct IPStor to recreate/restore the disk instantly based any of the existing TimeMarks.

TimeMark allows scheduling of periodic point-in-time snapshots of a live volume requiring a fraction of the capacity of the volume being snapped. For example, it is now possible to take a TimeMark every hour, giving the administrator the ability to restore the disk content back to a known good state with hourly granularity, according to FalconStor.

FalconStor said the TimeMark Option is scheduled to be delivered to customers by the end of November.

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

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Virtualization gets boost: Hot get hotter

FalconStor offers blizzard of announcements

Jockeying for virtualization leadership

What is IPStor?


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