Rebit Talks Road map, Channel For Unattended Backup Device

The Rebit device plugs into a computer's USB port and automatically provides continuous backup of changes in a user's data with no intervention by the user, said David Schwaab, director of product marketing for the Longmont, Colo.-based company.

The device was designed to ensure that data is backed up despite the fact that users typically don't do what they should to protect their data, Schwaab said at the XChange Tech Innovators conference, held this week in San Jose, Calif.

"It's ridiculous the number of PCs that don't get backed up," he said. "And it's because the users have to do something to do it. Once our appliance is set up, it works. There's nothing for the user to do."

The current model, which is integrated by and available from ASI Computer Technologies, Fremont, Calif., backs up a single desktop or notebook PC running any Microsoft XP or Vista operating system except Vista Enterprise, Schwaab said.

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A multi-PC version is expected to be available in December, which can protect up to five PCs. However, Schwaab said, it will require the user to move the device from one PC to another, which takes away its unattended backup benefit.

However, the company early next year plans to release a simple server version that connects to a small business server to do unattended continuous backups. Schwaab said it will take advantage of Microsoft's VSS snapshot capability to continuously back up open Outlook, Exchange and SQL Server files.

Rebit also plans in early 2009 to introduce a NAS version of its appliance.

In addition to continuously backing up data changes, the Rebit appliances also do deduplication to prevent duplicate copies of files from cluttering up the internal 80-Gbyte to 500-Gbyte hard drive. The NAS version, when it ships, will also include sub-file-level dedupe to keep only one copy of a file that may be saved by multiple users, Schwaab said.

Rebit also plans to offer the software for its appliance to custom systems builders, who could use it to build storage devices for continuous, unattended backup, Schwaab said. It would be a version of the software that Hewlett-Packard currently OEMs for use in its RDX removable hard drive cartridge storage system, he said.

In addition to backing up and restoring data, the Rebit appliances also back up a PC's operating system and appliances, making it useful for bare metal restore in case the PC loses its hard drive, Schwaab said. To restore the system, a bootable CD-ROM is included that gets the system running so it can restore data and applications from the Rebit appliance, he said.

Rebit's first formal channel program, unveiled at the XChange conference, provides dedicated sales, marketing and support teams for its solution providers, as well as an online portal, demonstration and evaluation programs, and aid in marketing programs, Schwaab said.

Marshall Thompson, president of TCR Personal Computers, a Pickerington, Ohio-based solution and system builder, said he has found through his own testing, including his own bare metal restore, that the Rebit appliances work as promised.

"The Rebit product is borderline genius," he said. "I don't know why someone didn't do this before."

Thompson said that the appliance appeals to his small business and local government market because of the way such customers operate. "With backups, if you provide anything other than unattended backups, they won't get done," he said. "And this is unattended backup."

The Rebit product road map looks good as it makes the appliance more applicable to small-business customers with multiple users. However, Thompson said, the model that requires physically moving it from PC to PC to back up multiple users is not as appealing because it requires users to do something to keep backed up.