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Taneja Blog / Data Protection/Management / Software Defined/Virtualized Infrastructure

Actifio changes the data protection game

In April 2006 we wrote a Technology Brief titled "Continuous Data Technologies: A Paradigm Shift." In this paper we argued that there was a new way to protect data in the enterprise that would fundamentally transform the industry. The basis of the argument rested on the advent of CDP, or Continuous Data Protection. CDP was based on the premise of continuous data capture and a handful of players were feverishly trying to bring products out in the market. They would capture data as it was created in the primary system and syphon it off to a recovery system, which was disk based. Since every change was captured you could move the dial back to any moment in time and get an image of the volume as of that moment in time. This volume could then be attached to the application and the system recovered. What an elegant way to reduce RPO to essentially zero and RTO to a much shorter time period than experienced with the standard backup methods? And since the data was being collected continuously (and only what had changed) there would be no need for doing any full or incremental backups, would there?

We bought the vision hook, line and sinker. But we felt that the concept of CDP was incomplete. That there was a bigger play here that vendors were not embarking on.

That is why we titled our paper, "Continuous Data Technologies" rather than Continuous Data Protection." Our argument went as follows: Once you have captured ALL changes to application data as they happen, why stop at data protection only? Why not create images from the captured data and use that for disk-to-disk replication? And how about using images of the data at specific points in time for test and development? And how about making an image of live data available to the support group? We described these new uses of the same data as CDI (for image) and CDR (for replication), etc. Once source, literally tens of usages! How much would it cut down on storage costs? How much would it simplify storage management? Why do we continue to make separate copies for backups (fulls and incremental), snapshots, business continuity, disaster recovery, test and support groups, and so on? It is not unusual to have 10-30 copies of the same data in the organization. Why? Because that is the way we were taught to do it by the big, tape-based data protection vendors. That was state-of-the-art. We knew CDT was the way to go. But CDP was a good start. Unfortunately, the early pioneers of CDP didn't survive. They all got picked up for asset value by the big guys. The CDT vision was dead.

And today all that changed.

Enter Actifio. Today Actifio is announcing a product that could not be a clearer reflection of our CDT vision. But it goes even further in that data deduplication and compression have been added for even greater storage efficiency. And the implementation uses the principles of virtualization that remove the need for LUNs, volumes, and RAID. Now the system administrator does not have to worry about provisioning storage on secondary storage side. Ever. Only one source of secondary data (vs. primary data which stays in primary storage), only one-time, non-disruptive data capture. Forget backup and backup windows. Not needed. Want a specific SQL Server volume as of 2:31 PM. No worries. Ask for it. Want a point of consistency across 10 different volumes. Ask for it. Recover a file from yesterday? No big deal. Want to ship a volume as of 12 midnight to the support group? Ask it and it will create it on the fly. All from one source.

Actifio has been shipping the product since last September and fine tuning it based on customer feedback. We believe it is ready for prime time. We think it will cause serious waves in the market. Today all the big guys have CDP products, along with the legacy products that continue to satisfy traditional needs. In fact, the sales of the latter products still dominate their revenues. If Actifio has its say all that will change over the next three years. Frankly, it is time traditional backup, replication and DR methods die. They are already crumbling under the pressure of server virtualization. Actifio's product will hasten the demise even faster. Finally, RIP, backup!

  • Premiered: 10/03/11
  • Author: Arun Taneja
Topic(s): Actifio CDP CDT


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