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Kroll OnTrack offers data recovery for NetApp

An interesting little tidbit crossed my inbox yesterday – an announcement from Kroll OnTrack, which specializes in recovering damaged or unreadable hard disks (we covered some of their recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina). According to the company’s press release, it “can now offer NetApp users a trusted and viable option to address data loss for the Data OnTap platform.”

The press release referred specifically to snapshots:

As NetApp OnTap provides users with Snapshots (automated, point-in-time backup), this new technology is critical as sometimes the snapshots are purged before the creation of a more permanent backup is created [sic] (i.e. when there are gaps between snapshots and backups) – as such, the data is lost and no longer available to the NetApp storage system. The new technology allows for the recovery of these snapshots by essentially ‘turning back the clock’ on a NetApp FAS system enabling Ontrack Data Recovery engineers to restore the data to its last Snapshot state.

I followed up with Kroll yesterday to find out if this is the first in a series of offerings for major storage vendors. After all, they all offer snapshots.

This was the response I got from a spokesperson:

The NetApp solution was actually developed in response to customers requests – a “just in time” solution. They may develop solutions for other storage vendors, but they have not had many requests at this time.

Another line that jumped out at me in the press release:

the company also offers a hardware solution beyond NetApp’s RAID-DP safeguard. While RAID-DP allows for the failure of two disks in a system, Kroll Ontrack provides an additional layer of protection when more than two drives fail and before a rebuild occurs.

I also followed up on this, to clarify whether Kroll was releasing a data protection product or if they meant something else. The response:

This may be misleading in the press release. It’s not that [Kroll has] an additional product/solution. What they are saying is that in addition to the ability to recovery from software failure (the snapshots), they are also able to recovery from Hardware failures (the RAID-DP). So when the RAID-DP fails, they can still recovery from the system as well.

When the RAID-DP fails?

If you read between the lines here, it seems like the case of purged snapshots is what drove the initial recovery from a specific customer or customers, and Kroll is now trying to advertise it as a generally available service. The snapshot issue could arguably have been caused by user error, and there’s no indication the RAID-DP service has actually been used “in anger.” But I can only imagine that for NetApp, seeing this press release must’ve been like a landlord reading about Orkin offering a special for its pest control services on one of his buildings. The implications are not explicit, but they’re there.

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