Historically, IT administrators in small and medium-sized companies have relied on tape backups to store and recover data. Although tape backup is an initially cost-effective solution, maintaining the solution can be costly-the tape media and hardware are expensive, and the IT resources required to back up and recover data can be overwhelming. In addition, tape backups occur only as often as you run them, which is typically once a day. A better alternative is continuous data protection (CDP), which is a technology that backs up data on an ongoing basis. CDP is cheaper overall, more reliable, and easier to use and maintain than tape backups.

SonicWALL is fairly new to the CDP market. In November 2005, SonicWALL-originally a firewall company-acquired CDP vendor Lasso Logic and thus moved into the data backup and recovery arena. The company launched the SonicWALL Continuous Data Protection Series in March 2006.

The SonicWALL CDP appliance provides instant backup and recovery. After you plug the device into your network, you install a software agent on each machine that you want to back up. The appliance then automatically backs up data on a continuous basis. For example, every time you save a document, it's backed up. Recovery doesn't require an IT administrator's expertise or assistance; an end user can log on to the CDP system and recover data at will. In addition, you have a whole host of versions you can recover from-not just one point-in-time snapshot. And in the case of a Microsoft Exchange Server or SQL Server recovery, the administrator can simply point and click to restore data in a matter of minutes rather than the hours that a restore from tape takes.

In addition, SonicWALL's CDP solution offers a managed service that lets you back up your data offsite. Offsite backups are important in case of disaster (e.g., fire, flood) and to protect against theft or malicious employees. As long as the CDP appliance has Internet connectivity, data changed on the appliance is also sent to a SonicWALL data center for redundant backup and protection. Your data is encrypted so that only you can unlock and access it.

A completely new SonicWALL feature lets you back up one CDP device (or many devices) to another device. This "box-to-box" backup option lets companies with remote offices back up their remote CDP appliances to an appliance in the corporate office, thus preventing a branch employee from having to perform manual tape backups and mail the tapes to headquarters.

According to Matt Bolton, SonicWALL's CDP product manager, no other company offers the same combination of local CDP backup and instant data recovery that SonicWALL does. He says that no direct competition exists-although a few companies offer offsite backup services, no one else offers SonicWALL's "complete, end-to-end, disk-based solution." In addition, SonicWALL supports all Windows-based systems. Their software automatically interfaces with applications such as SQL Server, Exchange, Outlook, and Active Directory (AD).

SonicWALL is a 100 percent channel-based company, selling its products through Value Added Resellers (VARs) and IT providers. For more information about SonicWALL and their CDP solution, go to the company's Web site.