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Continuity Software adds disaster recovery service-level agreement management to RecoverGuard

Continuity Software's RecoverGuard version 5 will monitor DR processes according to SLAs, but analysts say it's currently recommended only for high-end enterprise arrays.

Continuity Software Inc. this week rolled out RecoverGuard 5, an upgrade to its disaster recovery (DR) monitoring and reporting software with support for managing disaster recovery processes according to user-set service-level agreements (SLAs).

RecoverGuard's SLA management module lets customers define policies, apply them to applications, track violations of those policies, and view reports and analytics in an SLA browser.

Continuity Software CTO Doron Pinhas said customers can designate multiple goals for each policy they set, and then assign those policies to business services. They receive an alert when the underlying disaster recovery infrastructure has what Continuity calls a "gap," through a color-coded system in the SLA browser. If they drill down, customers can see the elements of the infrastructure associated with the application, such as incomplete remote copies or data that may be inconsistent.

Disaster recovery consultant Jon Toigo, CEO of Toigo Partners International, praised the move to add service-level agreement management. "I am passionate that disaster recovery [planners] need to establish service levels and apply those service levels judiciously," he said. "[Continuity] has been very innovative in that, and I have to give them a lot of credit."

Continuity Software also expanded support for server clusters with this release, including Microsoft Failover Cluster; IBM's PowerHA, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s ServiceGuard and Polyserve, and clusters of Oracle/Sun and Linux servers. Customers can now export and import data to and from RecoverGuard and change management database systems. The new version is also integrated with Active Directory for single sign-on authentication.

Also with this version, RecoverGuard expands the types of data storage reporting available in the software to include database storage utilization, host configuration reporting including software, patches and network connections, and support for NetApp filer replication.

Toigo and Evaluator Group analyst Russ Fellows said RecoverGuard is useful for large shops with high-end disk arrays but lacks support for host-based replication that midsized and smaller organizations are more likely to use. According to Continuity's compatibility matrix, enterprise data storage systems supported today are the EMC Corp. Symmetrix and Clariion; all NetApp filers; Hitachi Data Systems' AMS and USP disk arrays; and IBM's DS6000 and DS8000 series.

"It's a valid strategy and I have a lot of clients who do it," Toigo said of array-based replication for DR. "However, it's an expensive strategy." Toigo said he'd like to see Continuity pair up with more host-based replication software vendors to support midsized and smaller organizations.

Fellows said he agreed. "Host-based applications take away some of the [monitoring] issues, because they're deployed at a level closer to the application," he said. "But the midmarket is really where the biggest opportunity is – there aren't a lot of [dedicated] storage admins."

That said, Toigo said he's seen high-end companies come under staffing pressures when it comes to DR, following cuts made during the recession last year. "An increasing number of companies are disbanding DR teams and dumping the job on general IT," he said.

Both experts agreed a tool like RecoverGuard could help fill that kind of staffing gap, but it's hard to say who is using RecoverGuard at this point. While Continuity said its business is growing, it has yet to name any customers. "I talked with one beta customer early on," Toigo said. "But it's gotten past the point where I can continue to write articles explaining the theory of what they're trying to do. We have to hear from actual customers."


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