The trick with data protection is hitting the balance between the time it takes to get your systems back up and running and the cost of implementing your solution. At the low end of price and slow end of recovery time are tape backup and offsite archives. For quick recovery, you've got replication with automatic failover, but such solutions can break the bank of small-to-midsized businesses. This range of solutions is what Asempra Technologies calls the "data protection value curve."

Asempra Business Continuity Server (BCS) is a data-protection solution aimed squarely at the midmarket. It provides many of the features from the middle of the data protection value curve—disk backup, storage snapshots, file and database replication—all in one package. Sold as an appliance, BCS tracks all events and sends byte-level delta changes (i.e., only new or changed data) to a recovery server over a LAN or WAN, letting you recover anything from global to granular. The UI is a Web-based management console with intuitive, point-and-click functionality. You can view a Flash demo on Asempra's website.

The thing that sets Asempra's product apart from other solutions on the market is its Virtual On-Demand Recovery. According to Eric Herzog, Asempra's vice president of marketing and operations, this feature is the product's "real magic fairy dust." With this patented feature, BCS lets you restart your application within seconds after a failure while the data restore continues in the background. Further, you also get on-demand availability of data during the restore: You can request, say, an email message, and even if it hasn't been restored yet, BCS will retrieve it for you.

BCS 2.5 introduces improvements such as protection for Windows applications running in a VMware environment, up to 60 percent better storage utilization than previous versions of BCS, and a management console compatible with Windows Vista and Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0. The base price of BCS is $15,000. Asempra doesn't provide the storage, but BCS works with all basic storage types—DAS, NAS, and SAN. There's no extra charge per server or agent; you can protect entire servers or specific directories.

Readers, have you used BCS? Does it do what Asempra says it does? Does it answer the problem of the data protection value curve for your business, whatever size you may be? Post a comment to tell us what you think.