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IBM bundles up data protection for smaller companies

IBM rolls out packages that include its FastBack CDP software along with server and storage hardware for midsized customers.

IBM Corp. is packaging up a new hardware-software bundle for its FastBack continuous data protection (CDP) software meant to give SMB customers a turnkey approach to data protection.

The new bundle, dubbed the Comprehensive Data Protection Solution (CDP-S) is priced starting at $10,000. It includes FastBack software, based on IBM's acquisition of CDP vendor FilesX Inc. last April, as well as a System x3550 server to run the application and the user's choice of IBM's DS3000 Express, DS4000 Express or DS5000 storage systems.

IBM has already integrated FastBack with its Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) data center software to help large companies eliminate tape backups at remote offices. But Ron Riffe, manager of IBM's storage software product management, said the new bundle is meant for smaller companies who may want the FastBack software but don't want to have to worry about sizing the hardware for it.

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"For an SMB user, spending time figuring out hardware configurations is just wasting his time," Riffe said.

The general consensus in the data protection market is that continuous data protection has become a feature of a broader product offering rather than a standalone product in itself, which was reinforced by the acquisition of continuous data protection player Asempra by BakBone Software this week. "If this was just a standalone solution, [it would have] limited value," Forrester Research analyst Stephanie Balaouras said. "[As] an appliance that does CDP plus replication, that's better. It's not really about CDP, it's about the ability to rapidly deploy a recovery solution."

However, Balaouras called herself "a pessimist" when it comes to the general appeal of true continuous data protection (defined as point-in-time images of every write). "I think it's overkill from what most customers need," she said. "I think they need a few recovery points that represent a consistent, restartable point in time."

"Standalone [CDP] is perfectly fine," countered David Hill, founder and principal analyst for the Mesabi Group. "I have rollback on my own PC – zero data loss is what's important to me, and it's simple to go back to any point in time." However, Hill said IBM should add more data reduction or deduplication features to continuous data protection. One competitor, Symantec Corp., offers time-based data reduction for any-point-in-time images so that they're condensed into a smaller footprint as they age. IBM recently added block-based data deduplication to data center Tivoli Storage Manager.

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