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BakBone brushes up replication software

BakBone's NetVault Replicator version 5.0 includes automatic configuration of replication for remote sites, a capacity planning tool and a higher performance data movement engine.

BakBone Software Inc. announced a refresh of its host-based replication software today, featuring improved support for Windows and remote/branch office environments.

NetVault Replicator version 5.0's updates include a new and separate Windows-based GUI, which one user, Matthew Wenzler, product manager for Secure-24, a managed services provider in Southfield, Mich., said will make a big difference in his environment.

Secure-24, which manages close to 1 petabyte (PB) of storage, as well as servers, security and disaster recovery for its customers, has been using BakBone's replication product for Linux environments but still has Double-Take for Windows. With 5.0, Wenzler said, his "level 1" support personnel -- those who work on end-user helpdesk tickets -- will have an interface they can work with.

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"Helpdesk support guys are typically Windows guys, too," Wenzler said. "They're not used to Linux or the Linux interface."

With the addition of the Windows interface, Wenzler said his company was moving from the two-vendor replication system to a standardization on BakBone for all its replication services. BakBone's major claim to fame under the covers is already the ability to support multiple operating systems without the need for multiple software agents.

"It will be great to use one source for replication across both Windows and Linux," Wenzler said.

Another timesaver included in the new release, according to Wenzler, is a feature that will allow users to configure one replication policy across multiple remote sites, which before was a "very manual process," according to Jason Fisher, senior product marketing manager for BakBone.

"Our biggest client has 150 terabytes (TB), and all our clients have complex environments that are often subject to multiple government and industry compliance regulations," Wenzler said. "We want as much automation as possible."

Because of the often complex requirements found in his customers' environments, Wenzler said the company will also be using the capacity planning feature new to 5.0, which will allow users to set up replication "situations," simulate the capture of data and assess the amount of data it would send over the wire within Replicator.

"We come to our customers as consultants," Wenzler said. "We need to figure out what's acceptable for them, application by application, in terms of recovery objectives and the amount of resources committed, including the size of the storage and computing horsepower behind them." There are separate products that would do this for him, Wenzler acknowledged, but including it within BakBone was another point for consolidation.

"We like to standardize on one vendor whenever possible," Wenzler said.

Finally, version 5.0 will incorporate a faster journaling engine, intellectual property acquired with Constant Data Inc. (CDI) last year. Previously, the product had been based on an open source engine called SleepyCat, which Fisher said sometimes presented a bottleneck with large files.

BakBone: Moving up in the world, but still with a ways to go

When last BakBone released a software update, analysts' take was that it was a company squarely parked in the midrange, but that picture may be changing. BakBone's NetVault Backup software was recently the surprise winner of Storage magazine and Diogenes Labs' backup software Quality Awards, which included the enterprise. Secure-24 is another example of a large company looking at moving to BakBone from more established players.

According to Wenzler, the company is using EMC Corp. and Dell Inc. storage, and still uses EMC's Legato software for backups. He said that since switching from EMC's RepliStor to BakBone's Replicator earlier this year because of issues replicating from clustered servers, the company is testing NetVault Backup in an effort to centralize all its software products on one vendor.

"We're committed to EMC and Dell for storage infrastructure," Wenzler said. "But we are toying with going to BakBone for backup as well."

According to experts, the updates and BakBone's ambitious Integrated Data Protection (IDP) framework are appealing more and more to the high end of the market, but BakBone still has a few features missing from its data protection product line.

"BakBone's heterogeneous support is really appealing to the enterprise, and these new features show they have a good replication and data capture engine," said Steve Norall, senior analyst with the Taneja Group. "However, higher end data protection products, like CA Inc.'s XOsoft and Kashya (now EMC's) RecoverPoint, also offer features like localized continuous data protection."

Replicator's functions have also not yet been made a part of BakBone's framework, which is centralized in its NetVault Report Manager software. The new Replicator will be integrated into the next release of NetVault Report Manager, according to Fisher, who said there was not yet a timeframe for that release. Replicator version 5.0 is available immediately, priced at $1,499 per server.

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