XOsoft Turns Back Time

Startup launches software for 'undoing' corrupt transactions. Does it have a jump on the field?

June 21, 2003

4 Min Read
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Data replication and recovery startup XOsoft believes it can bring the lyrics of Cher's hauntingly lovely "If I Could Turn Back Time" to life.

The New York-based company is gearing up to launch its new Data Rewinder software next week, claiming that the technology allows customers to literally rewind any application and database transactions to a point before a corruption or error occurred. The software enables customers to undo their actions one at a time -- like hitting the undo button in Microsoft Word -- or to jump back to a specific point in time when the database or application itself does consistency checks, the company says.

"You're starting with the garbage, and going back to a point where the data is OK," says company founder and CEO Leonid Shtilman. "The software keeps the writes in the right order, like a journal."

Unlike snapshot technology, which backs up data at regular intervals -- for instance, every 15 minutes or every hour -- Data Rewinder continuously backs up any changes made to the data at the byte level. It can therefore undo those same changes, Shtilman says.

Systems administrators can simply set bookmarks at a point where they know the data is fine, for instance before they leave in the evening. If anyone makes a mistake overnight, they can restart the data flow from the bookmarked point in the morning. According to Shtilman, the Data Rewinder software can be loaded onto the server it's protecting or onto a separate backup server without disrupting the applications.While Shtilman insists that the new Data Rewinder software is unique and faces no competition at all, XOsoft isn't the only company dabbling in the new and emerging continuous backup space.

"Continuous data protection is starting to move into the marketplace," says Aberdeen Group Inc. analyst David Hill. "I think this whole marketplace is going to grow fairly rapidly."

The software sounds suspiciously similar to other continuous backup products, including Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek)'s (NYSE: STK) EchoView and Vyant Technologies Inc.'s Realtime, which are both currently shipping. In addition, FilesX Inc., Revivio Inc., and TimeSpring Software Corp. are working on similar products (see StorageTek Hears an Echo, Revivio Starts Talking Continuously and FilesX, Actona Find Funds).

Shtilman, however, points out that most of those products only work on Unix platforms, while XOsoft's new software also works with both Unix and Windows. "It costs 20 times more to develop for Windows than for Unix," he says. "And the market for Windows is much, much larger."

The Data Rewinder software supports Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle; it ranges in price from $995 to $2,395 per server.XOsoft will also release an enhancement to its existing WANSync software next week. Version 3.5 of the software enables asynchronous or synchronous replication of data and is optimized for wide-area networks. The software also allows customers to resynchronize their replication jobs even after the network connecting two sites has gone down for a while, Shtilman says.

WANSync and Data Rewinder integrate well together, Shtilman claims, pointing out that by combining the two software products, customers can avoid replicating bad data. "I was thinking, something should be done to stop people from replicating garbage," he says. [Ed. note: Sadly, no one has been able to stop George Lucas from doing this yet.]

The question, of course, is whether the new version of WANSync will be able to stand up to formidable competitors like Veritas Software Corp.'s (Nasdaq: VRTS) Storage Replicator, Legato Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: LGTO) RepliStor, and NSI Software's DoubleTake. "It's always a challenge for any small company to find a distribution channel and customers," says Aberdeen's Hill.

XOsoft, however, claims to have already sold thousands of licenses for the previous version of its WANSync software, which it has been shipping for about a year. It says its customers include financial institutions, governmental agencies -- including the Federal Reserve -- and insurance companies. WANSync 3.5 costs between $2,000 and $4,000 per server, depending on which application it's running.

XOsoft, which has 30 employees based in the U.S. and Israel, was founded in 1999. It has received four rounds of funding from JK&B Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson Gotham, Neurone Ventures, Seed Capital Partners, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, GS Private Equity Group, and The ComSor Funds.Strangely, the company says it's looking for more funds but refuses to say how much money it has raised to date. Published reports, however, indicate that XOsoft's first two rounds brought it $51 million.

Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading

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