Revivio Turns SAS Onto CDP

Software vendor turns to startup while backup stalwarts warm to technology

November 29, 2005

4 Min Read
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SAS is the type of customer the major backup vendors have in mind for CDP -- even though startup Revivio got to the maker of business intelligence software long before CommVault, EMC, HP, IBM, and Veritas (now part of Symantec) entered the game.

SAS has adopted Revivio's CDP as one part of enterprise data protection, but not the entire answer. (See EMC Pulls Forward With Backup and HP Picks Mendocino .) According to Buster Catelloe, manager of open systems infrastructure technology at SAS, the concept of CDP intrigued his group a year ago, long before the technology began to catch on with established storage software players.

Castelloe wanted more protection for his most important applications. We have business critical databases as part of our human resources, financial, and payroll systems,” Castelloe says. “We were taking hourly snaps, but that didn’t give us the granularity we needed for recoverability. Rather than spending a boatload of money on more disk, we went for CDP.” After several months of evaluating Revivio’s Continuous Protection System (CPS 1200) appliance, SAS recently became a customer. (See Revivio Shows Database Restoration .)

CDP captures all of the changes made to data and allows users to restore any good version of a document or application in case of a system or media failure. Backup vendors say CDP has a place alongside snapshot and replication but will never replace those technologies.

Castelloe agrees. SAS already has about 50 TBytes of EMC Clariion and Symmetrix storage and uses EMC’s TimeFinder and SRDF for snapshots and replication. Castelloe turns to Revivio’s appliance to handle only the most mission-critical applications, comprising about 2 TBytes of data. For the applications not picked for CDP, remote replication and tape backup remain part of SAS’s data protection strategy.“What we tried to do was look at more critical databases, and some that we weren’t protecting at all,” he says.

Even though Castelloe won’t disclose what he paid for CPS 1200, Revivio says the list price begins at about $100,000.

When SAS began evaluating CDP last year, Revivio was about the only enterprise option. That was before startups XOsoft and Kashya came out with enterprise products and CDP became an industry buzzword. (See XOsoft Hits Rewind and Kashya Uses CDP for DR.)

CommVault, EMC, and Hewlett-Packard have announced but not yet shipped CDP: EMC and HP are set to ship CDP products based on technology from Revivio’s major rival, Mendocino Software, and CommVault plans to build CDP into the next upgrade of its QiNetix data protection suite. Meanwhile, IBM and Symantec/Veritas have products that restore individual files but not an entire database or email server. (See HR: Alcatel Gains in CESRs, Microsoft and Symantec Cut SMB Tape, and CommVault Advances QiNetix .)

Castelloe liked the idea of CDP from the start, even though it wasn’t quite all he had hoped for. For instance, the Revivio CDP 1200 doesn’t support recoverability from remote sites. For that, you need an add-on module that Revivio launched in September.“I thought it was nifty technology,” he says. “How cool is it to be able to have any point in time recovery? We were just looking at it as something we might want to use for disaster recoverability by putting it in a remote place. Of course, they didn’t support that when we tested it. We brought it in to play around with and found it was great for some of our applications.”

Castelloe doesn't endorse CDP as a universal replacement for other forms of backup, replication, or disaster recovery.

“It’s great for doing any kind of important business recoverability data protection,” he says. “It’s not something for data that’s relatively static or isn’t all that critical. A lot of that has to do with cost. It’s an additional cost we would have to incur beyond our normal tape backup paradigm. And in some cases it’s simply not needed because it doesn’t buy you anything. If data’s not changing regularly, it doesn’t matter if you’re continuously backing it up.”

Castelloe has yet to need Revivio’s CDP to recover damaged data. But he’s run test restores on Oracle databases and SAS applications and could always get back his data quickly.

“If I’m in the middle of a monthly close and get to a point in payroll where there’s some bad data and the last backup was from the night before, I can go back to the point where that screwup was,” he says. “The whole process takes about five minutes if it’s a single file. If it’s a database file and I have to go through transactional data, it takes me maybe 15 minutes if it’s a record or two.”While Revivio turned SAS onto CDP, the startup may not stay the software maker's sole supplier. Castelloe says he’s talked to Revivio about its remote replication product, but he's keeping his options open.

“EMC talked to us briefly and we may at some point take a look,” he says.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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