Revivio Starts Talking Continuously

It's boasting of its 'continuous backup' technology, but the product is still months from shipping

June 5, 2003

4 Min Read
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After 18 months in obscurity, recently renamed startup Revivio Inc. finally exited stealth mode this week, announcing that it is working on a technology it has termed "time-addressable storage" (see Revivio Outlines Strategy).

Revivio, as Byte and Switch reported last summer, has been developing automated backup and recovery software for high-end, enterprise-class servers. The Lexington, Mass.-based startup, which up until last September was called Mariko Systems, remains vague on the details of the technology, saying only that its software, baked into an appliance, will provide continuous data backup (see Who's Gobbling More Cash?).

This is radically different from the traditional use of snapshot technology, the company claims. Whereas snapshots are taken at regular intervals -- for instance, every 15 minutes or every hour -- Revivio claims that its software automatically backs up any alteration to the data.

"It allows you to instantly access the data as it existed at any point in time," says Revivio VP of marketing Kirby Wadsworth. "Every modification to the data is stored, and every block of data is time-stamped... We provide an infinite number of recovery points." [Ed. note: Almost like the Betty Ford Center.]

The time indexing system is what's unique about the appliance, he says: "We're storing data and time together."Jack Scott, an analyst at Evaluator Group, says Revivio's time-stamp technology claims do sound impressive. However, he says, the startup hasn't made enough details available to really judge the merit of the product. "They're introducing a very important market requirement," he says. "They claim to have time-differentiated backup... If they can do what they claim, they should be successful in the marketplace."

Even though it may have some cool technology, Revivio will be entering a market already teeming with more established players, and at a time when customers are very wary of buying much of anything from startups. In addition to large industry players like EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK), a long line of startups is dabbling in this space, including Radiant Data, FilesX Inc., TimeSpring, Avamar Inc., and Vyant Technologies Inc.

And there's some question of how "unique" Revivio's approach actually is: StorageTek recently announced an iSCSI-based continuous backup appliance called EchoView. Wait -- we thought startups were supposed to be the fast-moving innovators? (See StorageTek Hears an Echo.)

Revivio CEO Paul Lewis insists he doesn't feel threatened that such an established player as StorageTek is not only beating the startup to market with a continuous backup product but that it's doing so over iSCSI. When it launches in the fall, Revivio's product will only connect via Fibre Channel. "This is a validation of time-addressable storage," he says of StorageTek's announcement. "My guess is that there'll be room for a lot of different players in this space."

As for the many startups in this space, Wadsworth contends that Revivio is the only one that offers an enterprise-class product, scaling to hundreds of thousands of I/Os per second (IOPS). This is possible, he says, because the Revivio appliance nondisruptively sits outside the data path. The appliance connects into the storage fabric and time-stamps data as it's written to disk on the storage located behind the appliance. The product doesn't require that any new agent, drivers, or other software be loaded on the host, the company says.Unlike a RAID subsystem, which has to respond to both reads and writes, the Revivio appliance only writes from the host to the primary storage device, and doesn't bother with reading the data when it's in normal operating mode, Wadsworth says.

The company, which has received $7.3 million in funding to date from Charles River Ventures, Flagship Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners, currently has just over 40 employees, 36 of which are engineers, according to Wadsworth.

While the Revivio appliance isn't set to ship until this fall, it is currently being beta tested by a number of large companies, including pharmaceutical and financial institutions, Wadsworth says. He adds that the company won't reveal pricing of the product before the launch.

The company plans to preview its technology at the Securities Industry Association's Technology Management Conference June 17 to 19 in New York.

Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Byte and Switch

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