Linksys Adds Continuous Data Protection To Network Storage Portfolio

Linksys, a division of networking giant Cisco Systems, has entered into an agreement with IBM to incorporate IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection (CDP) for Files software into its portfolio of SMB products and services. The Linksys by Cisco Continuous Data Protection for Files (LBACDP) solution gives SMBS automatic data back-up and restore functionality, said Brad Sakai, product manager for Linksys' connected office business organization.

IBM Tivoli CDP for Files software is an integrated recovery solution that offers data protection in case of a corruption, user error, virus or system failure. The software installs and configures in minutes and runs in the background.

The Linksys release comes on the heels of a study by analyst firm The Diffusion Group which found that nearly half of 1,000 SMBs conduct manual back-ups based solely on habit, while four to five percent of SMBs relied on a continuous data software application.

Sakai said LBACDP helps SMBs automatically save files either instantaneously or at scheduled intervals set by users, which eliminates the need for manual data back-ups. That process can save time and increase productivity, while also presenting fewer storage challenges.

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"Every time you hit save it backs up to the server," Sakai said. "Having a back-up of your data is crucial, especially for small businesses."

Linksys' data protection solution can be implemented into nearly any storage setting and can work with most back-up targets, such as an existing storage option or Linksys' Network Storage Systems (NSS) solution. Once the back-up target is identified the CDP software automatically runs back-ups and saves data to that target.

The CDP software will be available in three configurations depending on the SMB's size. There are currently models for three users, 15 users and 25 users that list for $149.99, $674.99 and $999.99, respectively. Once the software is loaded to the PC and mapped to the appropriate Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, the user can designate what files will be saved on a continuous or scheduled basis. For mobile workers, the software can create local backup copies that are replicated to network storage once the user connects.

Sakai said the continuous protection level offers real-time, instantaneous capture of file copies and sends them to the back-up target. Users can specify as up to three backup or replication areas for high-priority files to help capture every save of a file when it occurs, protecting against corruption, file loss or system loss. Scheduled protection copies files and email transmissions to remote storage areas at scheduled intervals. Should access to the storage not be available during the scheduled time, the software holds an internal copy and backs up files once a network connection is established. Lastly, the software offers vaulted protection, meaning files and folders that are vaulted cannot be modified or deleted. Since vaulted files are stored on the NAS and won't be changed or deleted, they are not backed up.

Sakai said the ability to continuously save every version of a file can protect data from viruses, file corruption, accidental deletion and data loss threats typically caused by natural disasters or power failures. Files that have been corrupted or accidentally deleted can be restored and brought back to any point in time with a few mouse clicks, Sakai said.

The CDP solution compliments Linksys' other NAS solutions, Sakai said, giving VARs the ability to offer a full suite of network storage and backup products to their clients.

"Resellers can say 'I have a whole storage system for you,'" he said, adding that CDP can be used independent of Linksys NAS systems and Linksys doesn't want to "pigeon hole resellers."

Travis Earls, president of Deka Technologies, a Savannah, Ga.-based solution provider, said Linksys' launch of CDP confirms that the vendor is looking to make strong inroads in the SMB and is shaking the stigma of being a consumer-only play.

"One of the biggest things this does for Linksys is it helps them transition from the consumer to the small business," he said. "It's really bought this whole NAS solution and tied it up with a bow so businesses can afford it."

Earls said his clients have wanted data protection tools for years, but are often turned off by the high-price of the solutions available. Earls added that recently, SMBs have become more concerned with disaster recovery and data protection, but many backup solutions have left them out of the loop.

"This lets them sustain a major catastrophe and allows them to continue to operate the business," he said.

In the past, Deka has organically built continuous backup solutions for clients, but those were often too complex for smaller businesses.

"We've had to develop solutions for our products because nothing was available at a price point and with the functionality small businesses needed," he said. "Before we had to put together those solutions and they were complex."

With the CDP software, Earls said, he'll be able to offer a more rounded NAS solution, while also offering CDP as a stand-alone to work with solutions other than Linksys. Earls also noted that many SMBs still do manual tape backups.

Earls did add, however, that he hopes Linksys will increase the number of users CDP can support in future releases. Currently, the maximum of 25 is a bit small for some of his larger clients. He said as SMBs continue to grow in size, they're require a more scalable solution.