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DR-in-a-box affordable for small businesses

Most disaster recovery offerings are way too expensive for small companies to even consider. But a handful of startups have spotted the gap and are targeting their products squarely at this niche.

Until recently, disaster recovery solutions were limited to large corporations backing up sites across the globe with a large budget to match the task. Smaller shops that couldn't afford the heavy price tag for this gear had to make do with in-house workarounds or nothing at all.

This situation looks like it might be improving, as a handful of vendors announce disaster recovery and backup products this week aimed specifically at small businesses. The following vendors claim their products are easy to install, come in a packaged solution and will be sold through the channel.

Here's the lowdown:

Sepaton Inc.'s S2100-DS virtual tape library provides 1.5 TB of capacity and includes the array and software. It starts at $21,000. The tape emulation appliance is good for small businesses but ideal for departments and remote sites of large companies, Sepaton's CEO Mike Worhach said. The company claims to have signed 25 resellers to help it reach the SMB market.

Intradyn Inc.'s ComplianceVault backup appliance is aimed at small brokerage firms that need to store and retrieve e-mail for compliance purposes. The box includes archiving software, a built-in Sony AIT-2 tape drive that uses removable WORM (write-once, read-many) cartridges, and ATA drives. Each tape cartridge holds up to 130 GB of compressed data. Pricing starts at $7,000 for 120-GB disk capacity and $8,000 for 250 GB.

Unitrends Corp. has upgraded its series of Data Protection Units to include new software and a wider range of capacities for smaller businesses. The disk-backup appliance starts at about $4,500 for a rack-mount or desktop configuration and includes file-level backup and restore and bare-metal restore functions. It can be configured as a tapeless, disk-to-disk nearline/tape offline or vault solution. It starts at 250 GB and goes up to 9.5 TB. Expansion slots enable users to build this system up to a total capacity of 19 TB.

StorServer Inc.'s D1 backup appliances include from 150 GB to 650 GB of SATA disk space for use as a backup pool. The software allows customers to use policy settings to retain expired files from 20 days to 45 days before deletion. For disaster recovery, customers need to connect DVD or tape drives and store media offsite. The appliance uses Tivoli Storage Manager and StorServer Manager software. Pricing starts at around $3,100 for 150 GB without software.

The market for DR and backup products is white hot right now as all companies, large and small, are looking at how to protect their data, according to Arun Taneja, industry analyst and founder of the Taneja Group. "Yet the focus of most vendors has been to woo large enterprises with the next-generation disk-based backup and restore products … focusing on the SMB market with integrated offerings is smart," he said.

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