In September 2004, Microsoft surprised the storage industry by announcing that the company would create a separate backup and recovery server rather than integrate backup and recovery functionality into a future Windows Server version. The product, known as Microsoft Data Protection Server (DPS), will ship in the second half of 2005 and provide robust data-protection features to Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000 Server and Windows Storage Server 2003. Here's what you need to know about DPS.

DPS Capabilities
Although many IT professionals believe this functionality should be integrated into Windows Server, Microsoft's plans for DPS are, nonetheless, worthwhile. DPS works with your existing Windows-based infrastructure and provides the following capabilities:

  • Data recovery. Because DPS uses disk-based backup, IT administrators and end users can recover their data in minutes.
  • Data protection. Because DPS offers continuous data protection, data backups don't affect your business operations.
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) tape integration. Microsoft is developing a new backup interface based on the VSS API in Windows 2003 that will let tape-backup partners integrate with the service.

Working with Partners
One of Microsoft's largest assets is the number of its partners who want to work with the company to expand its offerings into total hardware and software solutions. Software vendors such as CommVault Systems, Computer Associates, Dantz Development, and NSI Software; hardware partners such as Dell, EMC, HP, and NEC; and Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) such as Intel and Qlogic have pledged to support DPS. These companies will extend DPS to work with their storage solutions and create unique new solutions that extend DPS.

Recommendations
Windows Server needs a disk-based backup and recovery system, but I have doubts about Microsoft turning this product into a separate SKU. DPS will come under a lot of scrutiny over the next few months. My advice is to evaluate the product, but wait and see how Microsoft licenses and prices it. It's too early to give DPS a green light.