HP Looks to Ease Backup Pain

Let’s face it. When it comes to the list of chores facing small businesses, backing up your servers ranks right up there with issuing your annual 1099 statements and having your building’s gutters cleaned.

But you better have a backup plan in place if you want to ensure that your key business data is safe and secure if disaster strikes, if your company faces litigation that requires you to produce electronic documents or if you fall under the regulatory forces of acts such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.

If the obstacle to a business continuity plan has been cost or complexity (or both), HP thinks it has an answer with the HP StorageWorks D2D Backup System, which the company announced yesterday. The company claims the new disk-to-disk backup and recovery product makes data protection easier and more reliable by automating and centralizing daily backup operations. In the simplest terms, letting you set it and forget it.

HP D2D Backup System
The HP D2D Backup System is designed to lower backup cost and complexity.

The HP D2D Backup System is designed to emulate up to four tape drives. That is, to your backup software, the disks look like tape. In the enterprise world, the technology is known as Virtual Tape Libraries (for more information see What Is a Virtual Tape Library).

If you have multiple Windows-based servers on an Ethernet network, the HP D2D Backup System eliminates the need to have a direct-attached backup device for each server and consolidates the management of the server-backup process. It stores up 1.5 TB of data and allows you to consolidate backups for up to four servers onto a single, self-managing device, according to HP.

Because the device has an iSCSI interface, the HP D2D Backup System plugs directly into any available port on an Ethernet network using existing cables and interface cards. HP claims that the installation wizard lets people with no storage experience configure the HP D2D Backup System using a three-step process.

If you’re currently using direct-attached tape backup on multiple servers, the HP D2D Backup System is designed to eliminate the need to change tapes daily and manage multiple backup devices. This means fewer human hands involved in the backup process, which is almost always a good thing.

“As businesses grow and the number of servers and databases and applications grow, they end up with multiple individual devices, which increases the backup cost and complexity and the risk of a human or hardware error,” Adam Thew, director of marketing for HP’s StorageWorks Division, said during a Webcast yesterday.

The HP D2D Backup System does require that you have compatible backup software to automate daily backups and to reduce the manual handling needed to change tapes and manage media. For example, the HP Data Protector Express Software is designed to combine disk-based daily backup with a regularly scheduled full backup to tape.

HP says the Data Protector Express Software is available as a bundled starter kit with each HP D2D Backup System “at a considerably reduced price as compared to purchasing the software separately.” The kit includes the components needed to protect four servers, each with a virtual local tape drive or autoloader emulated by the HP D2D Backup System.

Additional options and extensions can be added to the HP Data Protector Express Kit to extend protection to applications, Linux and NetWare operating systems or additional servers.

A 1TB version of the HP StorageWorks D2D110 is available for $1,999 and a 2TB version, the HP StorageWorks D2D120, is available costs $2,999. Both models can be bundled with HP Data Protector Express Software licenses for four servers for an additional $1,000, which represents a 60 percent discount over the software purchased separately, according to HP. Additionally, browser-based management allows customers to monitor the HP D2D Backup System from anywhere on the network, at any time.

While the disk-to-disk nature of the backup device does store relevant data on site, for a complete disaster recovery system, you still need to be able to store tape offsite to protect against fire, flood or other site-wide catastrophe.

HP says that while hands-free backup and faster restores gives the HP D2D Backup System distinct advantages over tape backup alone, you should still use tape to provide a cost-effective method to protect data from risks that disk-based backup cannot, including site-wide disasters. HP says it will continue to invest in tape technologies, including LTO 4 tape drives, which are due out later this year.

You can, according to HP, migrate data from the HP D2D Backup System to physical tape using Data Protector Express Software. Because the HP D2D Backup System emulates HP LTO-2 tape drives or LTO-2-based 1/8 Ultrium autoloaders, the backup application treats it exactly as it would a physical tape device, effectively making a tape-to-tape copy.

If backup and recovery are keeping you up at night, you’re not alone. HP cites IDC research that reports that more than 50 percent of SMBs say improved data availability and recovery is their top storage management challenge.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com’s Small Business Channel, EarthWeb’s Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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