IBM Hops CDP Bus

Enters fray with file-only protection, leaves apps and databases to others for now

August 27, 2005

3 Min Read
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IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) will jump into the continuous data protection (CDP) game next month with a product aimed at backing up laptop and remote sites.

IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files offers what the name implies: It backs up files, but not applications like databases or email. Although it works with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager to back up servers, IBM is aiming mostly for laptops and remote users at large companies. It plans to begin shipping the product in mid September.

IBMs CDP lacks the functionality of more sophisticated early CDP products from startups, but Big Blue beats its major backup rivals such as EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) to the punch with its release. IBM also is pushing out its CDP before Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) begins shipping its “near-CDP” file backup Data Protection Manager product (see Microsoft Backs Up on CDP Claim).

While backup vendors have spent a lot of time talking about CDP in recent months, IBM had been quiet until today. However, IBM’s CDP product had been part of its Alphaworks early beta program under the name VitalFile since last November.

CDP product manager Chris Stakutis says IBM has more CDP to come. “This is the first CDP product we’re bringing forward, because the assets we’re most interested in protecting are files,” he says. Stakutis adds that IBM will eventually tackle CDP for block data and applications, possibly through a partnership with startups already offering that (see CDP: An OEM Game).Continuous Data Protection for Files makes up to three copies of a file whenever it is modified. One copy resides on the user’s system, and another goes to a file server when the user is connected. When the application is used with Tivoli Storage Manager, a third copy can be sent to the TSM backup server. If a user needs to restore a lost or damaged file, he can restore any saved version.

Of the CDP products already out, IBM’s appears closest to those of Storactive Inc.'s LiveBackup for Desktops/Laptops and Lasso Logic's CDP. Like IBM, those vendors use a host-based approach and handle file data, but Storactive and Lasso also back up and restore Microsoft Outlook databases. IBM only handles individual files.

As for other CDP wares, XOsoft’s file-based Enterprise Rewinder CDP product handles Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases, as do block-based applications from Revivio Inc., Mendocino Software, and InMage Systems Inc.

“IBM certainly isn’t the only one doing CDP, but it’s the first big company,” says analyst Mike Karp of Enterprise Management Associates. “IT organizations sometimes have difficulty accepting software from smaller companies, while everybody knows IBM.”

Among large players, IBM’s early competition will likely come from Microsoft’s DMP, which is also file based, allows for user restore, and does not handle applications. Microsoft uses frequent snapshots rather than CDP, and will likely ship around late October.EMC says it will deliver a CDP product later this year, and Symantec is in beta with a product code-named Panther that is similar to Microsoft’s DPM (see EMC Casts Wider Net and Veritas Uncages Panther).

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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