By The Business Solutions Network
We compare eleven business continuity solutions. Which is right for you and your customers?
The three BDR (backup and disaster recovery) product reviews we’ve done since 2013 have been among the most-read pieces of content on our website, and for good reason. Not only is BDR the central service of most MSPs (managed services providers), but also the reviews have been loaded with great insights from our tester, Eric Brown, CEO of managed services provider Remote Technology Management (RTM). Many established and would-be MSPs have told us that they find the product reviews to be valuable resources in evaluating new products or confirming their decision to use the products they do.
That said, it’s been more than a year since our last review. With products evolving rapidly and new features coming to market every day, we decided to gather together as much information as we could to create a current (as of the time of writing, anyway) comparison of BDR solutions. We reached out to more than 20 BDR vendors and asked for their participation. Due to limited space in the magazine, this article (part one) will focus on half of the vendors and we’ll tackle the rest of the field in our September issue. We asked each vendor to share specific product details, features, and capabilities so we could see how things have changed and how the products compare with one another. Like our other reviews, this one is not intended to pick a best product, favorite, or editor’s choice, but to arm you with the information you need to get — and stay — informed.
For some customers, a daily backup may be adequate, but most customers need a much shorter backup interval. “We’ve never had a need to take backup snapshots below the 1-hour interval,” said Brown in our first BDR review, “but, I could see where shorter intervals or even CDP [continuous data protection] would be necessary for backing up a SQL database that was updated by a large call center, or in certain healthcare situations where multiple clinicians would be entering data into an electronic medical record database.”
The products in our field were fairly diverse in their backup intervals. Asigra, Continuum, and VaultLogix offer CDP. Dell AppAssure and Datto SIRIS 2 can be set to 5 minutes. Intronis, Vembu, and Veeam can be as low as 15 minutes. Carbonite’s pro workstation backup provides CDP, while its server backup can be as low as 15 minutes. Finally, Unitrends Enterprise backups can be performed every 60 seconds, while Unitrends Boomerang can be run hourly.
Office 365 Backups
It’s no secret that Microsoft wants everyone to use Office 365. With a rise in adoption, the need to back up cloud-stored user information and data has increased. Many BDR vendors have responded with Office 365 capabilities. Asigra Cloud Backup, Carbonite Server Backup, Vembu BDR, and Datto SIRIS 2 all have functionality to back up Office 365 data in some way. Intronis says it’s currently working on a cloud-to-cloud offering that will include support for Office 365.
BDR For Linux
According to industry insiders, the ability to back up and restore Linux isn’t a simple undertaking. Indeed, at a recent Datto partner conference, the company revealed it had been working on its Linux functionality for years due to its nuances and technical hurdles. For instance, Linux doesn’t have volume shadow copy as does Windows. Linux has dozens of popular file systems and hundreds of kernel versions. There’s no vendor to call for help and no standard developer documentation. In fact, with Linux, there are no standards. That said, if you’ve got customers using Linux and need to back up their data, there are options available, such as Asigra Cloud Backup, Vembu BDR, Continuum Continuity247, Dell AppAssure, Datto SIRIS 2, and Unitrends Enterprise Backup. Unitrends Boomerang supports Linux within a VMware virtual machine, while Veeam supports Linux on both Hyper-V and VMware. Veeam also supports individual file-level recov- ery for Linux-based OS.
File Sync And Share Functionality
Dropbox has been a real business game-changer with its file sync and sharing functionality. Despite all the benefits the service can provide, the basic consumer version is a headache for many corporate IT departments, leaving many companies susceptible to all sorts of security issues. As such, the IT channel has been eager for business-class alternatives. Three platforms from our field have file sync and share functionality. According to Intronis, its ECHOshare is a file sync and share solution for SMBs. ECHOshare integrates with the Intronis ECHOplatform data protection solution for centralized account management and billing. Carbonite says that all plans include its free “Sync and Share” app that allows users to view, edit, and share files, even across mobile devices. Finally, thanks to a recent partnership with ownCloud, users of SIRIS devices (SIRIS, SIRIS 2, Virtual SIRIS) now have access to enterprise-level file sync and share capabilities.
Avoid Silent Data Corruption
We’ve all experienced or heard nightmares of failed restorations due to data corruption. All of the products we examined provide some level of integrity checks, although there are some differences.
Intronis Cloud Backup and Recovery leverages technology designed to ensure a high level of data availability. Locally, Safe Catalog verifies the integrity of the file list before any backups or restores run to make sure that the solution is always uploading a valid, reliable copy of a catalog. Separate scans are also performed at each of Intronis’ remote data centers to ensure that data is completely intact. If the slightest irregularity appears in the data within a data center, the technology replaces this data with a verified copy stored in one of the company’s other locations.
Among other integrity checks, Veeam provides SureBackup, which allows you to be certain that data is in good order by powering up virtual machines in a fenced off lab environment. You can automatically verify every created restore point of every VM and ensure that they will function as expected. Datto offers its unique Screenshot Backup Verification.
This technology delivers proof that a backup is successful. By taking a screen shot of each completed boot process, Datto tests the backup integrity and proactively identifies bootability issues. A screenshot alert can then be sent directly to the MSP and client, if desired, to confirm the backup.
Using Instant Recovery, Unitrends Enterprise Backup can isolate a VM on a separate service (VMware, Hyper-V, Windows), mount that VM, and test to ensure a backup is complete. ReliableDR can also run on-premise or in Unitrends’ cloud to certify backup and testing, ensuring the application works correctly.
Mobile And Mac Need BDR, Too
It used to be that Macs were relegated to homes, artists, or the education vertical. Today, they’ve made their way into the corporate IT world. We asked each BDR vendor to share its capabilities concerning Mac support. A handful do include such functionality in one way or the other. For instance, Intronis supports backing up Mac users through its ECHOshare file sync and share platform. Veeam Availability Suite can back up Mac OS X systems running inside virtual machines that reside on vSphere. Veeam Endpoint Backup Free supports Windows-based, client and server operating systems. Datto says its devices are compatible with Apple Time Machine, while Carbonite says Mac is supported by its workstation backup product (Pro). Vembu has a client agent for Mac and can perform application-level or file-level backups on Mac. Finally, Asigra says its product supports Mac.
According to Unitrends, its Enterprise Backup protects Mac OS natively. The vendor explains that native protection means that the user has the option of deep virtual (guest OS) protection when Mac OS is operating within a virtual machine and physical protection when Mac OS is operating on a physical server.
As we’ve all grown to rely more heavily on our mobile devices, the need to protect the data contained on the devices has grown. Not only do mobile devices create a moving target for backup applications, but there’s also the whole BYOD (bring your own device) factor. A few of the BDR products in our field address mobile BDR in some way.
Similar to the Mac functionality, Intronis supports mobile backups through its ECHOshare file sync and share platform. Carbonite has an app to backup Android devices. Continuum says mobile backups are supported with a co-located appliance. Finally, Asigra’s mobile support extends to Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The company says geolocation, remote wipe, as well as integration with Microsoft SCCM are included.
Market Specialization, Certifications
We know that many MSPs focus on one or two core verticals to build their knowledge and hone their solutions to address the unique needs of that market. In many cases, special products are required. For instance, HIPAA presents all sorts of challenges to healthcare customers, and PCI (payment card industry) brings its own obstacles to the retail and banking market.
As far as healthcare is concerned, all of the products in our lineup except for Datto SIRIS 2, Veeam, Dell AppAssure, and Unitrends Boomerang claim to have special features ideal for the healthcare vertical. Of course, the devil is in the details, and a thorough examination and fact-finding should take place if you have healthcare customers and plan to use one of the solutions. Asigra says NIST FIPS 140-2 certification increases the security of data in-flight and meets HIPAA-compliance mandates. Additionally, Asigra is able to provide long-term data retention for customers needing to keep data on file for seven years or longer to meet compliance mandates.
Continuum says Continuity247 security policy settings satisfy HIPAA technical safeguards, as defined by 45 CFR 164.304. Also, Continuum has undergone an independent audit and received a letter of attestation for HIPAA compliance. This attestation authorizes Continuum to sign Business Associate Agreements (BAAs). Vembu, Unitrends Enterprise Backup, and VaultLogix Advantage reported simply that they were HIPAA-compliant. Carbonite and Intronis representatives also said their solutions were HIPAA-compliant but added that the companies have completed a BAA.
As far as retail is concerned, many of the companies pointed to their strong encryption (all use AES-256 encryption) as a benefit. As with healthcare, Asigra pointed to its NIST FIPS 140-2 certification, which increases the security of data in-flight and meets PCI compliance mandates. Intronis went so far as to say its ECHOplatform is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant.
As with past reviews, we’d be wrong to pick a product that we felt was the best or to cast doubts on those we felt were lagging. All of the products in our lineup have raving fans and skeptics. With this overview, we hope you can shortcut your research and arrive at the best solution for your business.