With the release of System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007, Microsoft takes a big step forward in delivering an end-to-end data protection system optimized for Windows Server workloads. A significant upgrade from the previous generation of DPM, the new version delivers continuous data protection (CDP), data deduplication, and lossless backup for users of SQL Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Virtual Server 2005 R2, and Windows File Services.

For SQL Server or Exchange users, DPM 2007 offers an agent-based backup that uses the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer’s functionality, which is already a part of the server OS. The effect on applications is to have a minimal impact on system overhead while providing zero data loss restores for protected workloads. In the Virtual Server environment, a single host-based backup agent is able to protect all OSs and applications running on the Windows Server host.

Individual files can be recovered, without administrator intervention, by the users who accidentally deleted the files. In addition, files and applications are more likely to have current backups because it isn’t necessary to establish a backup window downtime (as it is for a traditional backup). DPM moves only byte-level changes once a full backup has been performed, eliminating the need to copy entire changed files or volumes. Data deduplication is also of significant value in terms of reducing backup times and backup storage requirements—some analysts have stated that a good deduplication filter can reduce the space required for backups by as much as 90 percent.

Between data deduplication and only moving the byte-level changes from the backup client to the DPM server, performing centralized backups over WAN links is also practical. Although this solution is specific to individual instances, DPM is practical for maintaining a full backup over a WAN link. The first full backup might take a significant amount of time—but if no mechanism exists for performing the backup locally, you can run an ongoing backup over a relatively low-performance WAN link if your organization doesn’t perform major data processing at its remote locations.

With tape backup going the way of the dodo bird, at least for regular backup needs (it still has value as an archival media for off-site and long-term backup), DPM 2007’s ability to deliver an end-to-end data protection solution means that users of Windows Server and server applications can now use a single vendor to deliver their applications and protect the data. DPM 2007 supports disk-to-disk, disk-to-tape (for the traditionalists who need to continue amortizing their investment in tape drives), and the preferred disk-to-disk-to-tape solution—which gives users the benefits of on-line disk-to-disk backup and restores with the archival security of aging data off to tape backup for offline and long-term backup storage.

For more information about DPM 2007, or to download a trial version, go to the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/dpm/default.mspx