IBM Friday released a new data-protection product that keeps a copy of files as changes are made, allowing users to dial back to recover any version of a document they want on local disks and on network servers.
IBM said its new software, called Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files, provides real-time data backup for laptops, PCs and file servers by continuously protecting information from computer viruses, file corruption, accidental deletion or theft of a laptop.
Continuous data protection (CDP), or time-addressable storage, saves all changes at the bit level, time-stamps them and moves them off to local or networked disk to be stored.
If a data restore is required, an end-user or systems administrator can literally dial back an application to any point in time, even to seconds before a virus struck a server.
Walter Grey, IT manager at Consigli Construction Co, rolled out IBM's CDP software about a month ago to the laptops of half of the company's 150 field workers. He plans to finish the rollout over the next several months. So far, Grey said, he likes the ease of setup, use and cost and time savings the product brings his company.
Grey had previously sent a technician into the field to back up each laptop, an exercise that required a full 40-hour week. Now, when users log onto the company's intranet via a virtual private network, local files are automatically backed up to a file server, which replicates the data to a back-end disk array, he said.
Grey said the product "doesn't take a lot of resources out of the machines and does the backup transparently. The fact that it does it transparently is key. I don't want [end users] to know how it works."
Brian Babineau, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said the only unique aspect of IBM's version is that data can be backed up both locally and over an enterprise network.
"It's an incremental market for those vendors who already have a backup product," he said.
Babineau said Microsoft is soon expected to announce its own CDP product, and he expects that EMC will likely resell another vendor's CDP product. Veritas Software has already announced plans to ship CDP products in 2006 in conjunction with the release of two new backup applications, code-named Panther and Bighorn.
Chris Stakutis, chief technology officer of the new IBM Tivoli Software offering, said the software can also be configured to save files as write-once, read-many mode for data-protection purposes.
Stakutis said all previous versions of a file are kept in a folder tree, and the software tags the file with a sequence number for easy retrieval. The files are then presented in order of the date and time they were created.
Pricing for IBM's CDP for the desktop starts at US$35 and US$995 for file servers.