Backup and recovery specialist BakBone Software is touting an extremely fast recovery to any point in time with a brand new backup and recovery offering.

NetVault: FASTRecover is a disk-based product that offers real-time data protection capabilities for Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and Windows file servers. According to BakBone, customers can recover protected data to an alternate physical server or virtual machine in as fast as 30 seconds.

"The problems customers are facing is not so much the scale of data backup, but the increasing change rate [how dynamic the data is - i.e. the amount it changes during the day]," said Andy Brewer, Technical Director EMEA at BakBone. "But because there are lots of outward facing applications, there has been a big increase in the change rate nowadays. Technologies like 'snapshotting' helps, but even then, there can be a sizeable backup window."

"People are finding nowadays that more and more applications are mission critical, and therefore they don't have scope for failure, and thus reducing the backup window is more important, as is the ability to restore the backup as fast as possible," he said.

"We are seeing our customers now having mission critical data and applications, right from the SME through to the large enterprise," he said. "That demand, is what our FASTRecover has been developed to address."

So how does it work? "From the backup perspective, we are trying to reduce the impact of the backup process," Brewer said. "Obviously to move less data is a key point, but FASTRecover tracks changes at block and byte level, and takes a copy of those changes, and then transmits that to the FASTRecover server."

"Compare this to incremental backup, which moves data that changes, but moves it at a granular level - i.e. file level - so this is still moving lots of data," he said. "Because we move data at a block and byte level, we move a lot less data, and we move it continuously as it is written. This translates to less bandwidth, and that lessens the load on the application server - hence losing the backup window."

"Because we are capturing changes at such a granular level, we able to build complete history of the file or database, and it gives us a very granular level of recovery, which in turn gives us the ability to bring the recovery point to as close to the point of failure as possible, which helps minimise the amount of data lost."

"With a traditional recovery method, you choose the data you want to recover, and it starts restoring from the beginning of file and it continues right until the end," he said. "But the application is unable to start until recovery is complete. If you are recovering lots of data, then the application can be unavailable for a long time."

"The way FASTRecover works is that we use technology called Virtual On-Demand Recovery (VODR)," he said. "You choose the recovery point. We then place empty shell files, which look like data files to the application, and which allows the application to start working again."

"For example, the Exchange Server sees an empty shell file, which gives the impression it is full of data files," he explained. "When the application tries to access the data, our agent intercepts the request and asks fast recover to send the requested data. So instead of recovering the file from beginning to end, we recover it in the order that the application wants to use it, which means the application can be used within a couple of minutes, regardless of how big the data is."

"You can bring recovery time back to very close to point of failure, which is the holy grail," he added. "This ensures minimal data loss, and maximum availability of the application. In the background we continue to recover the data, so eventually it will all get there."

The software comes in three editions, namely Workgroup, Data Centre and Enterprise editions. The Workgroup version can protect up to three client machines and protect 2TB of data; the Data Centre edition protects up to six clients and up to 5TB of protected capacity; and the Enterprise edition can protect 25 client machines and 50TB of data, and supports the clustering of NetVault: FASTRecover Server in order to get more bandwidth and more capacity.

"The FASTRecover server is a dedicated machine, but within 30 days we will launch these as appliances as well, which will make deployment and installation even easier," he added.

Besides BakBone's own backup offerings, FASTRecover can be used by rival offerings such as CommVault, Symantec, Tivoli, EMC Legato and Atempo.

The FASTRecover software component is available now. WorkGroup edition cost £2,499 ($4,102); Data Centre edition costs £7,200 ($11,818); and the Enterprise edition costs £15,995 ($26,255).