i365, Microsoft To Challenge Symantec In Cross-Platform Backups

i365 is working with Microsoft and Dell to extend Microsoft's data protection software capabilities across other platforms and into the cloud, making it a potentially significant competitor to Symantec's Backup Exec and other established vendors.

i365, a wholly-owned subsidiary of storage vendor Seagate, which provides technology for cloud-based storage and backup services, is collaborating with its partners to extend Microsoft's System Center Data Protection Manager software across non-Microsoft platforms.

Microsoft's Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2010, part of its System Center family of management products, protects data for applications such as SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint , as well as data on Windows-based desktop and laptop PCs and virtual servers.

DPM 2010 this week was upgraded with centralized protection of mobile PC data, centralized data protection policy management for roaming laptops, native site-to-site replication for disaster recovery to another DPM server or cloud provider, and bare metal recovery.

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However, by working with i365, DPM can now offer that functionality in non-Microsoft environments, said Terry Cunningham, senior vice president and general manager for Emeryville, Calif.-based i365.

"The problem with DPM is, it only works in pure Microsoft environments and Microsoft applications," Cunningham said. "We bring it to non-Microsoft platforms and to the cloud as well."

This is an important step for Microsoft's DPM, Cunningham said.

"Currently, DPM works only in Microsoft environments," he said. "If a customer has Linux, or is running applications on a VMware virtualized environment, he needs another solution. DPM is still a small player in the world of data protection because of that limit. That's why everyone here is excited about this."

Next: EVault for Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager

The new offering, EVault for Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager becomes extremely disruptive to the data protection status quo, which includes such products as Symantec's Backup Exec, CA's ARCserve, and offerings from CommVault, Acronis, and others, Cunningham said.

The solution consists of i365's EVault data protection software and its Cloud-Connected software running on a Dell x86-based server.

DPM agents sit on Windows-based servers and clients to do backups, while EVault agents sit on non-Windows systems. Both backups are managed through a centralized management console, with data being stored on Dell storage before being replicated to the EVault storage cloud.

While i365 calls its new offering disruptive, it does have limits in terms of how it competes with other vendors' data protection software.

For instance, it only runs on a Dell server, giving non-Dell customers another vendor's product to manage.

Furthermore, even though the EVault central console integrates with both the EVault and the DPM backups, customers will still be dealing with multiple software vendors to do what a single competing vendor's application can do.

Cunningham said the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager will be sold by i365 through its own and through Microsoft indirect sales partners. Microsoft will act as a referral partner for the solution, he said. i365 also plans to work with its 100-plus managed service provider partners, he said.

EVault for Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager is available through solution providers in three versions. The entry-level configuration, which includes a tower server and handles up to 2 TB of data, is available with a list price of $9.995. Rack-mount server versions with capacity of 6 TB and 10 TB list for $19,990 and $29,990.

Symantec declined to comment on the EVault for Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager.