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Immediate continuous data protection (CDP) opportunities for VARs

Continuous data protection is on the rise. VARs can sell this technology to clients who are looking to upgrade their storage infrastructure while simultaneously taking the leap into a new technology.

Continuous data protection (CDP) enables companies to back up data in real time. Paired with disk-to-disk technology, vendors offer granular backup solutions that enable you to retrieve individual emails and files if lost. You can take advantage of this opportunity by getting educated on the technology and getting in on the early adoption phase.

Current backup dilemma

Most shops back up critical information using replication or snapshot technologies. This usually means that there is a window in which back up takes place. As a VAR or storage manager, you can identify a time when there is little or no activity on the network then copy the information from one server to another.

More on CDP:
CDP functionality basics

Guide to delivering CDP services

"If you look at existing data protection – replication specifically -- there is usually a 24-hour window where you might lose data," said Sean Macnew, senior director for CDP and replication product with Symantec. "A company can lose a lot of critical information in that window."

Imagine someone is working on a business-critical document on Tuesday morning. Later in the day, something crashes and a restore is required. Because the work was done after the database was last replicated and before the next window opens, all of that work is lost.

CDP market opportunities

"How often does a company have to go back to tape? How often is recovery done for an end user? How much time and expenditures are lost because a company can't recover the information they need," asked Moosa Matariyeh, CDW enterprise storage specialist.

"Administrators are sick of doing restoration from tape, and CDP from a file and email level is becoming more commonplace," said Matariyeh.

Data flows into a company in a constant stream – not in 24-hour chunks. Both VARs and vendors realize that tracking changes in the data as it is entered provides the best opportunity to capture the backup market. But there is still some debate on the best way to manage the stream.

Because CDP is still a relatively new concept, many companies instead implement snapshot technology. Instead of updating the database every time any change is made, like CDP, a snapshot might be taken every 10 minutes and then replicated to an offline server.

"If a database has a snapshot taken every 10 minutes, then the server goes down, that company will lose nine minutes of productivity in the company," said Steve Sussman, senior product manager, Atempo. "With CDP, the company is protected to one or two emails or files and is not really losing any time."

It's this granularity that experts are predicting will bring CDP to capture the lion's share of the market.

"Awareness of CDP is growing but the technology is still in the early adoption phase," said Greg Schulz, founder and senior architect of Storage IO. "But VARs are in a position to educate end users."

Understand CDP pain points

"I see 2007 as a transition year for CDP. This year will still be characterized by early adoption by small to medium-sized companies, but it will eventually begin to shift to the mainstream in '08 or '09," said Schulz.

That doesn't mean that VARs have to wait that long to start beating the CDP drum.

"I don't think this is going to be difficult for VARs to sell largely because, rather than being a specialized and targeted, CDP will become a commodity," said Sussman.

Value for the user comes from less lost production time while employees are waiting for files to be recovered – not to mention less work lost. For the VAR, it's the opportunity to sell and support a full package of storage needs.

"VARs need to understand the pain points that their customers have," said Schulz. "A lot of the time, customers don't understand what they should be backing up. CDP is attractive because it backs up everything."

With the benefits apparent to the customer, VARs still have the opportunity to make a good sale by adding value to their customers existing set up.

One option is to bundle the CDP software with a new piece of hardware.

"VARs should be discussing what type of hardware their customers want to target. Then you can implement the software through the new piece of hardware," said Matariyeh. "This can also lead to a good amount of professional services even though they are designed so that the end user can do it themselves."

Another option is to reallocate an existing piece of hardware because it adds flexibility to the existing system.

"Customers like to use what they already have. We can install the software to add value, which results in less cost and better ROI," said Matariyeh.

Either way, the provider is saving the customer money and building a relationship that can be mutually beneficial.

"CDP speaks for itself," said Matariyeh. "Who wants to deal with the cost of losing eight hours of data?"

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