Volume 6, Number 32 -- August 15, 2006

iTera Unveils CDP Vaulting, Slashes HA Pricing

Published: August 15, 2006

by Alex Woodie

iTera threw its hat into the continuous data protection (CDP) ring last week when it announced Echo2 Vault Edition, a new backup product that records all data changes to disk and allows users to recover data practically right up to the point of failure. The software vendor also announced a 50 percent reduction in the price of its flagship product, Echo2 High Availability, when purchased in conjunction with IBM's new System i Capacity Backup (CBU) Editions, also announced last week.

This is a great time to be a high availability customer on the AS/400-iSeries-i5-System i-OS/400-i5/OS platform--and a good a time to be an HA vendor, too. As replication technology matured over the last few years, competition increased and prices came down, which opened the HA door to a new class of small and mid size businesses that had previously been priced out of the market. Add to that, the increased awareness of the importance of disaster recovery in today's business climate, and the incentives IBM has offered on new hardware and OS licenses, and you can begin to see the tremendous value that HA and DR is bringing to the marketplace.

iTera, which has been at the forefront of the revitalization of the iSeries HA marketplace, last week announced a new product for the booming CDP market. Echo2 Vault, which is largely based on the company's Echo2 DR product launched earlier this year (which itself was based on iTera's previous GuardianSave product), captures the transactional changes that occur between regularly scheduled saves on an iSeries system, and transports them to disk spinning on a local or remote iSeries, Windows, Unix, or Linux server. The product works on a "near real time" basis, iTera says, which allows an Echo2 Vault user to recover a system practically right up to the point of failure.

A New Vaulting Solution

This is one of the areas where Echo2 Vault improves upon its processor. With Echo2 DR, transactions would be logged and sent to the target system on a scheduled basis, such as every hour or every 10 minutes. The interval setting on Echo2 DR could come close to real time--it could be configured to send changes every minute--but it wasn't real-time, says Rick Ayres, iTera's vice president of business development.

Object support is another area where Echo2 Vault has been improved. Echo2 DR only supported the movement of data, but Echo2 Vault also logs and moves all changes to OS/400 objects, such as user profiles and spool files, which is critical to a disaster recovery effort. "We've got you covered not just with data, but with user profiles and all the other objects that are essential from a recoverability point of view," he says.

iTera was able to offer this feature in Echo2 Vault because the product is largely based on the replication engine used by the company's flagship Echo2 HA product suite. Echo2 DR used a different mechanism, Ayres says, and that didn't fit into the company's strategy of having a single product suite with interchangeable components and a steady continuum of features. "One of the real strengths of the strategy, of the idea of having a family of products, is that we have a very robust upgrade path, to suit customers as their recovery time objectives (RTO) change."

Echo2 Vault guides users through the recovery process, and gives users the option of recovering entire libraries, individual objects, or groups of objects. This means the product is not only useful for recovering from an outage or disaster, but also from everyday mistakes people make, such as a programmer accidentally deleting a customer file.

Because Echo2 Vault is constantly capturing transactions in the background, it provides a much better recovery point objective (RPO) than regular tape saves, where a user has no way to recover the data since the last save, which could have been performed hours, days, or weeks before. When implemented as part of a disk-to-disk (D2D) system, the RTO is also much better than tape. Users also have the option of deploying Echo2 Vault with a disk-to-tape (D2T) solution, which boosts long-term storage at the expenses of recovery speed.

Eliminating daily tape saves is one of the primary benefits of Echo2 Vault touted by iTera. This brings a whole host of other advantages, including the elimination of the downtime window associated with these backups and the elimination of the cost of tape media and the hassle of manually mounting and dismounting activities (if using a D2D solution). And because Echo2 Vault can send backups electronically to a secure offsite location, users can also eliminate the cost of transporting their tapes.

Echo2 Vault will be available near the end of the quarter. The product will cost between $6,500 and $50,000, according to iTera.

Untapped DR Needs

Echo2 Vault serves an untapped need among OS/400 shops, according to Dan NeVille, president of iTera. "It's surprising how many shops say they don't need full function high availability but would like a more robust disaster recovery solution," NeVille says. "Echo2 Vault bridges the wide gap between our full-function Echo2 high availability solution and simple tape saves. Now IBM System i shops can send daily backups and daily transactions electronically to a second system. If there is a production-system failure, Echo2 Vault automatically restores the daily backups and the daily transactions to an alternate IBM System i5 or iSeries."

CDP and related D2D and electronic vaulting solutions have been hot sellers in the iSeries marketplace and in the overall IT market. According to IDC, the market for "disk-based data protection" solutions will reach $8 billion in spending this year, and be responsible for another $50 billion in software and hardware spending through 2010. IDC says the figures from its report, titled " Data Protection - VTL, D-to-D, CDP, and the Impact on Tape," are remarkable because it rarely sees so much pent-up demand in such a large and mature market, particularly among the SMB.

iTera's new CDP solution got the nod of approval from Jim Herring, the director of System i products and business operations at IBM. "iTera's new product can help companies of any size achieve resiliency in their businesses and signals iTera's ongoing efforts to make availability solutions more affordable for customers," he says.

iTera, which used to be on the outside of IBM's HA sphere of influence looking in, is now moving forward together with Big Blue, which counts on its high availability business partners to drive hundreds of millions of dollars in hardware sales every year. Once an upstart startup clamoring and clawing to gain recognition from IBM, iTera's market success has afforded it a level of respect.

Cost Cutting

That mutual consideration was evident in iTera's other big announcement last week: that it will cut the price of its Echo2 High Availability solutions (including the entry-level and Enterprise editions) by half when purchased in conjunction with one of IBM's new CBU Editions. Taking that 50 percent reduction into account, Echo2 HA products now cost between $13,000 and $100,000. The deal is good through the end of December.

The new CBU Editions come with a set of standby processors that can be used at no-charge in the event of a disaster or individually activated to affordably support additional applications or roll-swap operations. IBM says the new CBU Editions of the System i models 550, 570, and 595 can lower the cost of implementing a second system for business continuity by 30 to 50 percent (see "IBM Rejiggers and Broadens i5 Capacity BackUp Edition"). iTera's new Echo2 Vault software is also on the list of applications IBM supports on the new CBU Editions.

iTera also announced a series of new partnerships last week, one of the busiest for iTera's press relations department for some time. For details on the new iTera distributors, see "iTera Signs Up Three OS/400 ISVs to Distribute Echo2 Products".


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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
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