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IBM Protects Windows Data Faster and More Completely

Data protection is no place for half measures

Tivoli Beat - A weekly IBM service management perspective.Business data drives business success. Protecting that data—comprehensively throughout the organization, and throughout its full lifecycle—is therefore a mission-critical priority for most organizations.

Unfortunately, the data protection challenge is getting harder to solve, not easier, as time passes. Data typically becomes more and more dispersed—across end user desktops, mobile offerings, systems, tape backups, virtual tape libraries, in-production databases, and endless other sources. As organizations grow in market share and revenue, they also typically grow in geographical locations; branch locations represent a new wrinkle for data protection strategies to address. And data volumes, too, have rapidly expanded in recent years. Developing a comprehensive and effective data protection strategy, for all these reasons, is both necessary and difficult.

IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack offers complete protection for Windows data

“FastBack has been specifically designed to address the complete spectrum of data protection complexities, today and tomorrow, by backing up any type of Windows data, anywhere on the network, and restoring it with remarkable speed and efficiency—even to targets with blank hard drives.”IBM's response to these and related challenges is the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (US) family—a best-in-class, policy-driven portfolio through which organizations can ensure their data is not just protected, but protected in an optimal manner that corresponds to business priorities and makes optimal use of infrastructural resources.

And for organizations looking for a fast, powerful way to back up Windows data of all kinds—particularly for remote branch offices, by way of the public Internet—the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack (US) suite is a compelling offering. FastBack has been specifically designed to address the complete spectrum of data protection complexities, today and tomorrow, by backing up any type of Windows data, anywhere on the network, and restoring it with remarkable speed and efficiency—even to targets with blank hard drives.

Unlike many competitive offerings from other vendors, FastBack is a complete package—it requires no secondary tools for key functions because, right out of the box, it includes the full range of necessary features. For IT managers interested in guaranteeing the safety of their Windows data—which is, essentially, all IT managers—that is a compelling differentiator.

Questions they must bear in mind at all times include: How fast could I restore Windows data in an emergency? How granularly can I back up data—am I forced to restore Exchange data as a monolithic whole, for instance, or can I restore only specific elements of the Exchange database? And what if a target system for restoration doesn't even have an operating system yet?

FastBack is a more complete and powerful solution than EMC Avamar

The business case for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack becomes very clear when you apply these questions to it and to alternate offerings—and examine the answers.

One such offering, for instance, is EMC Avamar. Avamar is positioned in a similar manner as FastBack; both target remote branches, both promise rapid backup of Windows data, and both promise to accomplish this goal in an optimized way that makes the best use of organizational resources.

Avamar's design and implementation, however, show it to deliver on this promise in a less comprehensive way than FastBack. Avamar is primarily intended to optimize backup through deduplication functionality—essentially, ensuring that duplicates don't exist in the backup archive, where they create costs in the form of more storage, as well as more bandwidth needed to send the data to the backup in the first place.

Avamar manages this goal by breaking data files into tiny "atoms" or digital chunks which are then sent across the network to the Avamar server for analysis. If these chunks are found to duplicate existing content, they aren't backed up. This process is meant to accelerate backup by performing deduplication at the source—before files are sent to the Avamar server.

FastBack's broad array of leading features, however, go far beyond deduplication during backup—they span the full range of both backup and restoration processes. And it will be, for many organizations, the restoration processes that have the higher priority.

Consider: when a production system's hard drive fails, and the data on it must be restored, how much time can the organization afford to waste in restoring it? In this area, FastBack's incredibly swift data restoration—which is typically far swifter than Avamar's—delivers exactly the accelerated recovery time objectives (RTOs) today's IT managers require.

Furthermore, unlike Avamar, FastBack delivers continuous data protection (CDP), meaning that data can be backed up live, as it is created, as opposed to a recurring schedule such as a nightly routine—which can lead to as much as a full day's data being lost permanently.

FastBack is also a more granular solution, empowering organizations to protect just the data they require—even when other solutions such as Avamar cannot, and force a more comprehensive backup. In the case of Microsoft Exchange data, for example, FastBack allows complete granularity of data backup and restoration, addressing sub-elements of the Exchange database such as individual mailboxes, attachments, tasks, notes, messages, and others. Here, too, superior recovery times can be expected because only the required data must be restored, rather than the entire Exchange database.

FastBack additionally delivers a key feature not directly available to Avamar customers: bare-metal restoration. Even if a target system's hard drive is completely blank, FastBack is still capable of restoring any necessary data to it over the network, both rapidly and comprehensively. This translates into superior system availability and service uptime; if a system's drive fails, and is replaced with a new one, FastBack will still work, without requiring IT to provision that drive first. Avamar, however, must be supplemented with an additional tool to work in a comparable fashion, and even then it may not work as well or as efficiently.

Finally, FastBack's exceptional ease of use, which lead to rapid deployment and integration and easy subsequent management, have won it applause from the customer base. Thanks to the included wizards, administrators can get FastBack up, running, and delivering value to the organization in very short order.

Why organizations today choose FastBack

A recent example serves to illustrate the evaluation process many organizations will undergo as they consider different industry offerings, looking for just the right data protection to meet their needs. A general business clothing manufacturer of roughly three thousand employees, dissatisfied with its current backup/archiving solution, had a requirement list that will be familiar to many IT managers:

The chosen offering? IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack, which successfully addressed every bullet point.

Especially important to this organization were FastBack's exceptional recovery times—to ensure swift, complete data restoration in an emergency, and minimize the business impact of downtime—as well as its flexibility to restore data to any target system on the network, however the organization requires.

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