Double-Take spruces up remote replication software

Double-Take 5.0 replication software adds full-server failover and the ability to remotely push out patches and updates.

Double-Take Software Inc. is adding full-server failover and the ability to remotely administer Double-Take instances to its data replication repertoire.

The full-server failover feature in Double-Take 5.0 falls short of full bare-metal restore. Full bare-metal restore usually includes distribution of the operating system, which in this case needs to be supplied by the user on the secondary server system. Double-Take does allow other system-state information, including the application and registry settings, to be migrated along with data to a dedicated physical or virtual second server for quicker restores in the event of a total system failure.

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This past January, Double-Take first allowed users to send system state from multiple servers to a separate repository for similar restore-performance benefits. The difference this time, according to Double-Take director of solutions engineering Bob Roudebush, is that full-server failover "is designed to be used in a one-to-one configuration. It also adds monitoring and failover capabilities so that the recovery process can happen automatically when the original server is unavailable."

Version 5.0 also includes a feature called the Enterprise Install Console, which allows customers with hundreds or thousands of Double-Take licenses to push out software agents and updates from a remote console.

According to Roudebush, large accounts have demanded this type of function. However, no beta testers for Double-Take 5.0 were available to discuss the new release. Instead, spoke to a user with a smaller IT environment. Gregory Pearl, senior network engineer for a software development company in the financial planning industry, said his company is using Double-Take to replicate data from India to its U.S. headquarters. But Pearl would rather keep maintenance onsite. "I work for a software company, so I know all the nooks and crannies of sending that kind of data over the wire, especially over a long distance," he said. "I'm not a keen fan of remote pushes in general."

But full-server failover will come in handy for his Double-Take-supported GeoCluster for SQL servers, once his company gets a secondary site set up in the U.S. "That's exactly the type of [failover] model we're looking for," Pearl said.

Double-Take Version 5.0 includes support for replicating file stubs from archiving systems, new scripting for pre- and post-snapshot processes with Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and the creation of a temporary repository of deleted files for quick short-term restores.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said Double-Take has been consistent in its approach to product development, concentrating on Windows and replication to distinguish itself from backup vendors. "They're sticking to their knitting," she said. "They're remaining focused on Windows users and long-distance replication, and knocking out every possible use case within that focus."

Still, Whitehouse said, there is a trend toward the convergence of replication and other backup capabilities, such as WAN optimization or data deduplication in the market. Users are interested in "an uberconsole where data protection technologies come together, and it seems like backup is where people all want that driven from," she said. Double-Take has done some of that integration work through partnerships, such as its OEM deal with WysDM Software Inc., as well as integrating archiving tools in this release.

But according to Whitehouse, the company hasn't "put together its long-term strategy yet for how it can become more than replication."

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