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Remote data protection vendors cozy up to Microsoft

Microsoft’s annual TechEd user conference kicks off today in Los Angeles, accompanied by the usual flurry of supporting news announcements from industry vendors. Today the theme seems to be remote data protection, whether file delivery to branch offices, or data backup and disaster recovery.

Riverbed Technology Inc. is the first wide-area data services (WAN optimization/WAFS) vendor to announce that it will support a new feature called Direct Access when it becomes available in Windows Server 2008 R2, due out in 2010. Direct Access will create “the equivalent of a VPN tunnel” for Windows 7 remote clients attaching to a Server 2008 R2 host in the data center. Another coming feature called BranchCache will allow files to be stored locally at branches for Windows 7 clients. BranchCache will be certified to run on Riverbed’s SteelHead appliances at the branch office, according to Riverbed director of product marketing Apurva Dave.

As always when Microsoft expands into new areas, there’s the specter of the operating system vendor subsuming the value-add of smaller, more specialized players, which Dave admitted was a fear for Riverbed when it first heard about BranchCache. However, as with its Windows Storage Server product, Microsoft is pulling in partners for delivery, and Riverbed is prepared to sell BranchCache as part of “the complete picture for the branch,” which includes non-Windows and non-2008 Windows clients, Dave pointed out.

Also at TechEd, FalconStor Software Inc. will demonstrate a new product offering with partner Idera Software for backing up and single-instancing SharePoint documents. Idera’s SharePoint backup software will do the data protection; FalconStor’s File-interface Deduplication System (FDS) will do the data reduction. The co-marketed products will be available from both vendors.

Rounding out the remote data protection picture, Double-Take Software also indicated it’s on the Microsoft bandwagon today with the announcement that its GeoCluster integrates with Windows Server 2008 failover clustering and Hyper-V.

Finally, Sanbolic announced SQL Server 2008 clustering support and automation tools for the Melio clustered file system (CFS).

These announcements follow Sanbolic’s support for Hyper-V virtual servers, rolled out in January.

At that time, Scott Lowe, senior engineer for ePlus Technology, Inc. and a blogger on server virtualization, wrote that Sanbolic might be facing that old ‘coopetition’ bugaboo with Microsoft:

Clearly, Sanbolic wants to protect the value of Melio FS as Microsoft prepares to enter the clustered file system market with Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV), included in the R2 beta. It’s unclear to me whether CSV is going to be limited to virtualization only, addressing the “one-VM-per-LUN” issue, or whether Microsoft will also support CSV in other applications. By optimizing Melio FS for shared access to objects like virtual disk files and by extending support to run Melio FS in VMs on all the major platforms, Sanbolic hopes to establish Melio FS as a “de facto” standard in Windows-based clustered file systems.

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