Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Continuous Data Protection: Is It A Product Or Feature?

Backup used to be the backwater of the storage world. Even though it was the single most important way of protecting data for just about everyone, it was also the most boring. Little that was new was happening and most everyone was trying to tweak the same model. Every night, we copied data to tapes. The addition of a SAN helped make tape backup work better but did not change the model. Even disk-to-disk backup was a new twist on the old ways of doing things.

Continuous data protection (CDP) is a major change in the way back up is performed. Instead of the staged backup that happens once a day, information is backed up as it is created and changes. The backup medium is generally another disk or disk array, not tapes. A major problem with backups, loss of data since the last daily backup, is alleviated. CDP also does this (or should do this) in a seamless fashion. CDP transforms backup into a non-disruptive system function, rather then management function that causes system interruptions.

So the question that comes to mind is: Is this really a product or simply a feature of backup software? The question is important because it affects how companies invest in the technology. Should you invest in a product when what it does will be part of a suite? Would it work better as part of a suite of backup and data protection software?

The answer is that CDP is quickly becoming a feature. We know this because backup software companies are investing in CDP or acquiring companies that make CDP products. Clearly they think that CDP is feature. In fact, CDP is what backup will be in the future. The idea of remembering to backup critical files on some artificial schedule no longer fits the dynamic IT environment of today (or tomorrow).

So, as we peer into the crystal ball we see CDP being the usual way of backing up critical data, with tape the preferred archive medium. CDP will become a feature of a data protection or backup suite. Soon. Very soon…

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