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Revivio users eye automation module

Users of Revivio's CDP say they are looking forward to a new addition to its software but only for certain applications.

Continuous data protection (CDP) and replication startup Revivio Inc. will officially announce a new addition to its flagship Continuous Protection System (CPS) 1200 appliance next week, and so far users are saying they have a place in their environments for the new features -- but sparingly.

The new additions to the CPS 1200 system's software, which Revivio calls the Application Integration Suite, will monitor environments in particular applications, notify administrators of problems and automatically initiate the recovery process in the event of an application failure.

The initial release of the product will include "knowledge modules" for commonly used applications, including storage software, such as IBM's AIX Logical Volume Manager (LVM), Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) LVM, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris LVM, Veritas' VxVM, EMC Corp.'s Legato Networker and journaled file system, as well as databases, including Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL, Lotus Notes and Exchange.

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"Object modules" are also available for devices, including McData Corp., Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and QLogic Corp. switches; EMC Symmetrix and Clariion arrays; IBM DS4000, DS6000 and DS8000; Hitachi Data Systems Inc. TagmaStore, Sun 9900 and HP EVA arrays.

However, according to Revivio's senior vice president of marketing and business development Kirby Wadsworth, customers with applications or devices not included in the prepackaged knowledge modules will have the option of creating their own custom automation module in-house, using a third-party consultant or hiring Revivio to develop one for them.

"If their module is repeatable and useful to other customers, we'll develop it on our nickel," Wadsworth said.

The custom modules are created from a customer's policies and best practices. So, for example, if a certain set of steps always needs to be performed to recover a particular database, those steps can be defined for the software and set to run automatically in the case of a failure. What constitutes a failure for the particular device or application is also something that can be defined by the user.

So far, Revivio users say the product update will probably be useful to them, but it will really only come into play with one particular application in their environment.

According to Manny Singh, IT director for Prairie Packaging, the Revivio CPS 1200 is already primarily maintained for CDP on one application -- what Prairie calls the warehouse management system or WMS. The application, which consists of software by a company called SenseLogic layered over an Oracle database, tracks the product manufacturing process, automates the shipping process and, most importantly, initiates the billing and invoice process once product has been shipped.

The Bedford Park, Ill.-based manufacturer of foam and plastic products initially implemented the Revivio box in November specifically for the WMS system, which has a significantly different recovery point objective from the company's other data systems -- unless the data is recovered quickly, the manufacturing assembly line and shipping process continue without Prairie being able to track what's been produced, what's shipped, where it's gone or whether it's been received.

Singh said he has learned that while the problem of data recovery is covered with CDP, if the application itself fails, the process to discover where the failure occurred and correct it before even starting the data recovery process can be a long one, and potentially as damaging as having no backup for that data at all.

, "What happens is, you have a forklift guy using a scanning gun to read codes on the different packages in the warehouse," Singh said. "His first investigation is to assume [the failure] is his gun malfunctioning -- and while he's out there kicking his gun around, we're losing data by the second," Singh said.

With the automation module running on the Revivio box, he said, IT wouldn't have to wait for that process of elimination to resolve itself before setting about fixing the problem.

Hal Weiss, IS systems engineer for Baptist Memorial Healthcare, a consortium of hospitals in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, is in a similar position -- he can't wait to use the new automation module for his 1 terabyte-plus of Exchange data, but admitted he hadn't thought much beyond it.

"E-mail, as far as I'm concerned, is not a critical application," he said. "But if it's down, it's the first thing people scream about.

"It'll be great to automate the process of getting a message back in two clicks that the end user can do themselves," Weiss said, "Instead of having to take up my staff's time restoring e-mail messages."

Application awareness has become something of a trend of late in the CDP market. Revivio's announcement follows on Mendocino Software's announcement last fall of the RecoveryOne appliance, which includes individual separate software modules that can assess the viability of a system image at any point in time. Also last week, Kashya Inc. announced that its CDP product will track the data streams in Oracle databases and some other applications and indicate application-specific recovery points.

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