StorageTek's EchoView focuses attention on restores

Storage Technology this week announced that it's set to ship an iSCSI appliance that will continually track all writes from attached servers to disk storage to ensure that they can be restored to disk in case of data corruption.

The EchoView E400 can protect as much as 400GB of data in a departmental or workgroup setting by keeping track of which blocks have changed in a data set, a technique called journaling, according to StorageTek.

The device, which lists for US$50,000, can eliminate backup windows by performing what amounts to continuous snapshots data for any increment of time, whether it's every 15 seconds or every hour. Storage administrators can then perform backups off the EchoView device to tape over Ethernet via the iSCSI protocol.

In an interview, StorageTek CEO Pat Martin called EchoView "a major initiative," with the product set to ship in limited quantity this month.

David Urano, data center operations manager at Aims Community College, has been beta-testing the E400 since January as a primary backup mechanism for his help desk's database, which runs on a Windows 2000 server.

One day in February, the help desk manager opened the database to search calls and "there was nothing there after (the year) 2000," Urano said. He then walked a systems administrator through finding a snapshot, mounting it to disk, checking the data in the file and then bringing the system back online, a process that took only about 10 minutes.

"Compared to some of the other restore projects I've been involved in ... which have turned into days upon days of agony, this was ridiculously simple," Urano said.

Bill North, an analyst at research firm IDC, said EchoView, while initially targeted at the low-end environment, can still perform large tasks because most restores occur within a 24-hour period.

"I would think most users would simply insert this between more traditional backup tools and the hosts they want to protect. It gives them a higher level of protection," North said. "It's very clever. It's a very powerful tool."

StorageTek said versions of EchoView released later this year will use larger ATA-based disk arrays. By next year, the product will be expanded into terabyte-size configurations.

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