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9/27/2006
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Microsoft Upgrades Data Protection Manager

Version 2 of DPM, as the software is known, now offers a more granular approach to continuous data protection, as well as increased security for information in Microsoft applications such as Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint, the company promises.

Microsoft on Wednesday said version 2 of the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager has gone into public beta and sports several new features to help meet growing storage requirements.

Version 2 of DPM, as the software is known, now offers a more granular approach to continuous data protection (CDP), as well as increased protection of data for Microsoft applications such as Exchange, SQL and SharePoint, said Jason Buffington, senior product manager at the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

In CDP, changes to data are backed up immediately or at predefined intervals so users can instantly recover a deleted, corrupted or modified file. Though many applications allow data changes to be captured on the fly, others back up the changes at set intervals.

Microsoft entered the CDP market with the release of its first version of DPM last September. Since then, the company has been assaulted by CDP competitors for allowing changes to the data to be backed up only once per hour at most, whereas other CDP vendors like Symantec and EMC enable changes to be backed up on the fly.

In DPM version 2, the changes can be backed up as often as every 15 minutes, according to Buffington. "For an enterprise, a lot of work gets done in an hour," he said. "We wanted to tighten the time."

Besides backing up data changes more often, the new version of DPM lets users keep up to 512 shadow copies of the data, compared with 64 previously, Buffington said. Shadow copies are earlier versions to which data can be restored in the case of corruption or accidental deletion.

Also new is the ability to do CDP directly on Microsoft Exchange, SQL and SharePoint servers, as well as on clustered versions of those applications. The original version of DPM required that those applications be quiesced -- or put in a temporary inactive state -- to back up the changes, but with version 2 that's no longer necessary, Buffington said.

Version 2 also includes native tape support, which allows data to be backed to tape for archiving without the need for a third-party application, and it's slated to include the ability to encrypt data, he said.

Another new feature is bare metal recovery, which provides fast, disk-based recovery for enterprise servers, workstations and desktops by restoring the operating system and the data in case of a complete system failure. DPM originally required the prior reinstallation of a clean copy of the OS before recovering the data after a system failure.

Beta 1 of DPM version 2, which Microsoft is releasing this week, includes the new CDP function; support for Exchange, SQL and file servers; and native tape support. Beta 2, expected to be released early next spring, will include media encryption, bare metal recovery and support for SharePoint Server. The final version is slated to be released to manufacturing next summer, Buffington said.

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