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Deploying continuous data protection for best effect

What hardware and software options should VARs get familiar with when preparing to deploy continuous data protection? What bundling options are there? What's the best strategy for 'adding value'?

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Look for CDP solutions that are hardware independent and agnostic that can interoperate with other software tools and storage systems. VARs should get familiar with CDP enabled solutions that are either integrated and part of larger overall solution offerings, or those that can co-exist with other software and technologies in a customer's environment. Standalone dedicated proprietary hardware solutions for CDP have for the most part fallen by the side of the road with some early software based point solutions having been acquired and in the process of being assimilated into other technologies by vendors. For example Yosemite (backup software) recently purchased FileKeeper and overtime will integrate the technologies, however for know you can use them together or separately.

Some vendors to keep an eye on pertinent to CDP related or complimentary capabilities include Asigra, Assempra, Atempo, CA/Xosoft, EMC, FalconStor, GoldenGate, IBM, Mendocino, Microsoft, NetApp/Topio, Symantec and TimeSpring among others. Value can be added by "gluing" first generation point solutions together with other technologies. For example snapshots, backup and replication combined with CDP technologies can be aligned to customer's application specific data protection needs. Other options for adding value around CDP and data protection solutions in general are to integrate with applications to provide transactional integrity for Microsoft Exchange and SQL, Oracle and Sybase among others.

Additional value can be added by looking at CDP not as a point solution or cure for the common cold, rather, to incorporate CDP enabled technologies with other data protection solutions including snapshots, backups to disk, tape or remote locations along with multi-site replication. Low lying fruit can be to show customers how backups integrated with CDP capabilities can be used to reduce the amount of time spent scanning file systems. The selling point comes when you show a customer the amount of data exposure caused by the delay that occurs before data is backed up and I/O overhead that can be used for more useful work or other purposes.

In other words, rather than spending a lot of time trying to sell a customer on how flexible a CDP enabled solution is for recovery, a VAR can add value and close a deal by showing how CDP enabled solutions can help pay for themselves with improved and timely data protection -- including reducing the amount of time taken to perform backups and freeing up I/O overhead from the data backup process. Consequently a VAR can show a customer how to improve their environment on a daily basis as well as providing improvements when they need to recover data, its simply turning the usual CDP value proposition around and into a self justifying and self funding business model.

This was first published in February 2007

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