SteelEye Delivers CDP for Windows Servers
Published: August 1, 2007
by Alex Woodie
SteelEye Technology last week launched SteelEye Data Replication for Windows 6.0, a new release of its high availability suite for Windows servers. With the new version, the Northern California company has introduced support for continuous data protection (CDP) technology, which gives organizations greater data protection by allowing users to "rewind" their data to a verifiably good state following the introduction of a virus into the data, an accidental deletion by a user, and other forms of data corruption.
SteelEye sells data replication and clustering solutions for Windows and Linux servers. The company's technology was originally developed by AT&T's Bell Labs to protect the company's voice network running on Unix-based servers. Today, more than 7,000 servers around the world run some mix of the company's solutions, which include high availability clustering solutions that automate the failover of Windows and Linux application servers, called the LifeKeeper suite, as well as a data replication tool that keeps database servers in synch, called SteelEye Data Replication.
With last week's launch of SteelEye Data Replication for Windows 6.0, SteelEye customers can now add CDP to their high availability repertoire. With CDP, SteelEye has made it easier for server administrators to restore databases and the applications that run on top of them to their previous state when they're hit with some type of problem, says Dave Bermingham, Windows solutions marketing director for the Palo Alto, California, company.
"With any kind of corruption, you're going to want to have point-in-time rewind," Bermingham says. "Immediately after the corruption, the user mounts the data on the backup volume, moves forward and backward until they find the optimal data set, and once they do, the data can be recovered."
As part of the CDP solution, SteelEye delivered a new graphical Data Recovery Wizard that guides the user (usually a systems administrator) through the process of finding the best recovery point. The wizard provides users with a slider bar that lets them move forward and backward through the timestamped snapshots of data that SteelEye Data Replication periodically takes, or through other user-defined bookmarks.
When users encounter a timestamp that approximates the time of the data corruption event (or just before the event, ideally), the wizard allows them to validate the integrity of the data by loading a segment of it into an application. With feedback from the user, the wizard keeps track of these integrity checks, and gives users visual clues, in the form of red, green, and yellow areas of the slider bar, which correspond to timestamps with known and unknown quality of data. When users find the best timestamp, the wizard guides them through the recovery process, thereby minimizing data loss.
SteelEye expects to add the new CDP function to its data replication for Linux in the coming months, Bermingham says.
SteelEye has also changed how it packages and sells its high availability and data replication products. With the introduction of CDP in version 6 of the replication product, SteelEye decided it made the most sense to combine SteelEye Data Replication with the LifeKeeper for Windows product into a single bundle, ostensibly going by the LifeKeeper for Windows name.
Bermingham says the fact that 95 percent of SteelEye's customers use both products in tandem was a key factor in the company's decision to make the data replication product an optional component of the LifeKeeper clustering and high availability software. While some of SteelEye's Windows high availability customers use LifeKeeper in a shared storage configuration and therefore don't need the data replication component, the degree of overlap between the two products mandated combining them.
"Previously, when we sold replication, the ease of use of failing mirrors back and forth was not as easy as it was with the high availability product," he says. "Really both products are required for the full functionally."
SteelEye develops several versions of its LifeKeeper product to provide high availability clustering for various applications and databases running on Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 systems, including Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft IIS, SAP NetWeaver, SQL Server, Oracle 9i and 10g, and IBM DB2 UDB. The company also sells development tools that allows users to create recovery kits for other applications, including homegrown programs.
"The typical sweet spot for us is shops with three to four servers. We have shops running more than 10 or 20 servers, but most just want disaster recovery for Exchange or a couple of other servers," Bermingham says.
"One of our key competitive advantages on our high availability side is our ability to easily protect other applications," Bermingham says. "There are SQL Server backends but other applications running on top of it, and our ability to write an availability pack [gives us an advantage]. Microsoft has the limitation that, for full protection, the application has to be cluster-aware, which means you have to put hooks into the application to be fully cluster aware." Microsoft also has strict hardware requirements and requires users to buy the enterprise version of their operating systems and applications to achieve full high availability, he adds.
The LifeKeeper protection suite, which includes SteelEye Data Replications, costs $2,000 per server. Maintenance is $500 per server per year. For more information, visit www.steeleye.com.
Smaller Companies are Preparing for Disaster Too, Study Shows
SteelEye Rolls Out New High Availability Tools for Windows
Post this story to del.icio.us
Post this story to Digg
Post this story to Slashdot