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1. Commentary
- CDP Raises the Bar for Backup and Recovery

2. From the Community
- Shared Disks Might Fail When You Create a Windows 2003 Server Cluster

3. New and Improved
- NEC Offers New Storage Products for SMBs
- SmartLine Freeware Mitigates Risk of USB Downloads
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

4. Windows IT Pro Resources

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==== 1. Commentary: CDP Raises the Bar for Backup and Recovery ====
by Elliot King, eking@loyola.edu

Backup and recovery implementations have always been driven by five key criteria: time, speed, size, certainty, and cost. How long does it take to complete a backup operation, and how long must data be retained? How fast can lost data be restored? How much data must be backed up? How certain can you be that backup operations have succeeded and data can actually be restored? And, finally, how much will it cost? Over the past 2 years, the emergence of continuous data protection (CDP) has considerably raised the stakes and expectations for backup and recovery infrastructures.

Decline of Traditional Backup
For a long time--before the Web began to affect business operations--large companies would perform backups nightly. Smaller companies would often back up their data once a week or even less.

As Web-based operations and a new breed of enterprise-level applications emerged, the traditional backup scenario began to break down. As companies stayed "open for business" more hours of the day and generated more data, the backup window kept shrinking even as more information had to be managed. Some companies simply couldn't back up their data in the allotted time. Moreover, once-a-day backup was seen as inadequate. Too much data was generated each day to risk losing it if a failure occurred between backup operations.

The industry's first response was to offer snapshot technology, which began to command widespread attention with the release of the EMC TimeFinder product family. Instead of relegating backup to a single daily operation, major storage vendors began to offer the ability to take snapshots of data periodically throughout the day. If data was lost or corrupted, the system could be rolled back to a point at which its integrity was still intact.

CDP: The Next Step in Backup and Restore
CDP is the next step in that evolutionary process. "When CDP was first talked about a year ago, the idea was just to take a lot more snapshots," said Rick Walsworth, vice president of marketing at Kashya, which has released CDP appliance tuned for the Oracle and SQL Server markets.

That approach has its limits. Storing multiple data snapshots requires a lot of--often expensive--storage capacity. Moreover, you might not have a valid snapshot of data before corruption occurs, and even if you do, when you restore a file to its precorrupt state, you lose all changes made after the snapshot was taken. Finally, taking very rapid snapshots of data might cause performance problems.

CDP moves beyond snapshots. But, as with many new technologies, hype and fact about CDP are meshed together. A number of smaller companies have barreled into the CDP sector. Some of those companies, capitalizing on the market's growing enthusiasm for CDP, are positioning their technology as delivering CDP even if that isn't exactly the case.

CDP comes in three basic flavors. The most rudimentary approach provides block-level replication and logs all changes to the disk image as they occur. This process has been described as mirroring that can be rolled back. Since it doesn't store directory or file information, this CDP type is most useful for full-restore applications.

The second flavor, and most common approach to CDP, takes place at the file level. This CDP solution logs changes to files as they occur. Individual files can then be restored. File-level CDP, however, doesn't collect information about database logs or operations, and it might restore transactional systems to an inappropriate point in time.

The third and most involved approach to CDP is called application-aware CDP. This type of CDP technology understands how the application works. It applies timestamps to specific I/O and application events, creating, in effect, intelligent benchmarks. If something untoward happens to data, it can be rolled back to a point in time when the data was last consistent according to the application.

Vendors use any of several different approaches in their application-aware CDP products. For example, Kashya offers an appliance that sits outside the data and monitors write activity. Other approaches monitor both read and write activity. For instance, FalconStor Software offers a software-only CDP solution.

Despite the confusion surrounding CDP, the technology has gotten a lot of people's attention. According to a recent survey by the Enterprise Strategy Group, 63 percent of its respondents indicated that they were familiar with the concept.

At this point, CDP seems to be most appropriate for email and transactional applications. Nonetheless, the idea of continuous protection is very attractive, and its use is likely to broaden over time as IT pros gain a better understanding of CDP features and how the technology can benefit them.

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==== 2. From the Community ====

Shared Disks Might Fail When You Create a Windows 2003 Server Cluster

When you configure a new server cluster on a Windows Server 2003 computer, you might experience problems, such as the following:
- A warning icon appears next to "Checking cluster feasibility" on the Analyzing Configuration page of the New Server Cluster Wizard.
- The New Server Cluster Wizard might configure the cluster to use a Local Quorum resource instead of an existing shared hard disk.
- After you configure the cluster, some shared hard disks may be missing or marked as "Failed."

These problems might occur if the Windows 2003 computer contains more than one host bus adapter (HBA) controller. To learn more about the problem and the fix for it, go to http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=886807.

==== 3. New and Improved ====
by Anne Grubb, products@windowsitpro.com

NEC Offers New Storage Products for SMBs

NEC Solutions (America) introduced two new storage disk arrays, advanced management software, and preconfigured bundles that deliver high-end features and functionality to small-to-midsized business (SMB) users. The new S2400 and S1400 disk arrays provide up to 27.6TB and 13.8TB, respectively, of storage capacity and are designed to be integrated in a DAS and SAN environment. The arrays include an updated version of NEC's Storage Manager Software, which simplifies management by providing real-time monitoring and statistical performance information across all storage devices. The products will be offered as both build-to-order and as preconfigured solutions--the Availability Solution, Performance Solution, and Reliability Solution. The new products will be sold under the NEC Express Partner Program. The products are priced starting at $30,000 list. For more information, contact NEC Solutions (America) on the Web:
http://www.necsam.com

SmartLine Freeware Mitigates Risk of USB Downloads

SmartLine has released DeviceLock Plug and Play (PnP) Auditor, a freeware product that lets network and security administrators audit the USB, FireWire, and PCMCIA devices on a company's network. Administrators can use this information to determine how many users are uploading and downloading data to personal, portable storage devices. DeviceLock PnP Auditor uses a multithreaded engine to ensure fast, unobtrusive auditing of all activity on any computers in an organization. The software uses a multiple-document interface (MDI) structure, so that you can keep each task in its own window, and displays audit results either as a tree or a plain list. You can also export results to Microsoft Excel. For more information and to download DeviceLock PnP Auditor, go to
http://www.protect-me.com/devicelock_plug_and_play_auditor.html

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to whatshot@windowsitpro.com.

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==== 4. Windows IT Pro Resources ====

Check out these links to a wealth of Windows IT Pro resources: white papers, eBooks, Web seminars, conferences, and other events.

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==== Contact Us ====

About the commentary -- eking@loyola.edu
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