Startup Continuity Software Now Checks Virtualization DR

Startup claims to determine whether virtualization will actually work in a DR pinch

June 14, 2008

3 Min Read
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More enterprises than ever may be using virtualization for disaster recovery, but Continuity Software says most of them can't be sure their setups will work in a pinch. The Israel- and Boston-based startup says its software guarantees success.

Continuity's stock-in-trade has been RecoverGuard, software that continually monitors data between a primary site and its DR target, ensuring that replication is happening exactly as it should. RecoverGuard does this by mapping hardware and software elements relevant to DR to make sure they match up between sites. It also discerns over 1,200 different patterns, or "signatures," of problems in the DR infrastructure.

Up to now, RecoverGuard functioned with arrays from EMC and NetApp, along with host software configurations, including operating system settings and versions, network resources, and available memory. With this release, the package also works with VMware virtual environments, with Oracle implementations, and with HDS arrays as well.

Continuity is also engaged in beta testing of IBM-compatible software and plans HP EVA support in the future.

What does RecoverGuard look for? Besides checking that a disaster recovery setup is really configured as planned, RecoverGuard finds changed data: replicated databases, volumes, or files that differ from the original. Differences in the configuration of software or hardware on replicating hosts may also cause data to be missed or corrupted. Data replicated on virtual machines may not be consistent, or there may be underlying hardware discrepancies between source and target sites that cause data snafus."Failovers to VMware instances have had many problems," states Avi Stone, Continuity's director of marketing. "Virtualization is new technology, and people aren't always aware of all the best practices to use."

Not that they're always smart about setting up non-virtual DR. According to Stone, seven out of 10 recovery operations fail to deliver the goods. Indeed, Continuity has been so sure of finding a problem with its tools that the vendor continues to offer an up-front assessment to enterprise customers on the stipulation that if RecoverGuard does not find anything, the assessment fee will be waived.

So far, Stone says, Continuity hasn't given a single free assessment. (By the way, originally priced at $15,000, the fee has been shifted upward, but by how much Stone won't say, since there are so many variables and the service is available now not just in the U.S. and Israel but in Europe as well, posing more pricing variables.)

At least one analyst says Continuity fills a niche. "They find a lot of problems for large enterprise customers," says the analyst, who asked not to be named. In his view, the closest competitor, Onaro (now part of NetApp), can monitor physical connectivity between DR sites, but does not bring the level of detail to the specific DR site checking that Continuity's RecoverGuard does.

That said, this product isn't for everyone. Smaller companies may find the software overkill and the fees steep. And the new products, available later this month, are priced as before: $2,000 per server, with individual servers comprising no more than four CPUs.Continuity does offer a version of RecoverGuard called DR Assurance that is sold as a hosted monitoring service for companies that lack the resources to install their own in-house RecoverGuard configuration.

Despite any drawbacks, Continuity is apparently finding its niche. While Stone won't reveal the number of customers, he says the list has grown and includes one of the top 10 U.S. banks. The company is also about to close a second round of funding (it garnered $6.5 million after its founding last year). And the company's development team is now numbered in the "tens."

Stone says the new funding should close "soon."

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  • Continuity Software Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • VMware Inc.0

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