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Asigra Fuels Cloud Backup Platform for Telcos

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Gaining Control of the Cloud without Losing Flexibility

Toronto-based Asigra today took the wraps off a new backup platform aimed at cloud service providers like telecommunications companies. Called NetApp–Asigra Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS), the “carrier-class” hardware and software bundle serves as the foundation of end-to-end, cloud-based data protection services for telecoms and cloud service providers.

Asigra’s contribution is its Cloud Backup v11.2 software, which addresses backup challenges that have evolved past storing file copies offsite, according to Doug Ko, Asigra’s director of Strategic Alliances and Product Marketing.

Asigra would know. It’s been doing backups for decades.

Although the firm has been helping companies back up their data since 1986 over phone modems, today many customers use its software without realizing it, says Ko. The company now boasts a presence in 550,000 customer sites and counts firms like Verizon subsidiary Terremark as customers.

“We’re a 100 percent channel-driven company,” Ko says. And to emphasize its role as a backup application pure-play, he notes: “We’re only a software developer.”

So while end customers may never see the Asigra logo emblazoned across their dashboards — it largely takes a white-label approach — the company is still responsible for ensuring that its technology keeps up with the times. And nowadays, cloud backup has to contend with complex storage infrastructures, virtualized environments and a multitude of device types.

Backing up the Multi-faceted Enterprise

One example of the challenges posed by the modern enterprise is storage arrays. “The issue is that they pose a management challenge,” says Ko. He points to the lack of granularity, versioning and data integrity protections in typical point-in-time images of a file system.

A “snapshot of bad data” can throw recovery efforts into disarray, he adds.

Asigra’s technology works by placing its DS-Client software on an appliance or system on the client’s network edge. It captures data directly from snapshots and supports concurrent snapshots across multiple volumes.

That data is transmitted to DS-System at a data center, which provides long-term storage, offsite replication and disaster recovery. For service providers, this extends to multi-tenancy and security. NetApp–Asigra DPaaS is FIPS 140-2 government certified.

Asigra has virtual servers covered, too.

Cloud Backup v11.2 does away with performance-draining virtual machine agents by integrating with VMware 5.0. This “enables fine-level incremental data backups” by performing change block tracking on virtual machine disks (VMDKs), which results in a threefold improvement in performance, says Ko. Also supported are XenServer 6.0 and Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshots for Hyper-V.

Embracing Consumerized IT

Desktop PC backups are a given under Asigra’s platform, but recent support for smartphones and tablets is a result of the consumerization of IT, says Ko.

For enterprises, the concern is “getting corporate data off these devices and making sure they’re not going into consumer cloud services.” To help avoid sensitive corporate files from ending up in personal Dropbox and Google accounts, its software is available for iOS 5 and Android 4.0.

It’s Asigra’s “end-to-end” strategy — in addition to flexible capacity licensing that’s constant across private, public and hybrid clouds — that the company is betting will resonate with service providers as it competes with heavyweights like CA, IBM and Symantec.

“As service providers assist organizations in transitioning to virtualized operating environments and cloud-based infrastructure, they are also recognizing the importance of re-architecting their approaches to data protection, whether supporting a small enterprise or a multi-national corporation,” Ko says.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE

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