Continuity Software's RecoverGuard software will search out and report on mismatches between disaster recovery and primary datacentre sites. It detects differences (gaps) between a a business' primary and disaster recovery (DR) site IT infrastructures.

According to Continuity Software, this means DR provision will be much more trustworthy. The company claimed that this was the first automated DR/primary datacentre mismatch product.

Typically, a large business will have datacentres with hundreds of different applications, running on thousands of servers, with data stored on various torage platforms, in multiple locations around the world. Changes are probably introduced on a daily basis. Typical DR arrangements involve the replication of data to remote data center sites configured with standby hardware and software and maintained through the use of DR methodologies and policies.

Since the DR and primary datacentre infrastructures must be kept identical, any small configuration change, such as addition of a new volume, or reconfiguration of replication processes, can create a gap between the production and DR environments: even the smallest gap may prevent the DR site from operating when needed.

According to a Gartner report - Gartner 2004, Business continuity, Gaps in best practices - 70 percent of DR sites will not properly recover when needed.

Bob Laliberte, an ESG analyst, said: "Until now, there has simply been no realistic visibility into a full remote recovery operation. With all the interdependencies and such limited test capabilities, even the largest companies in the world really don't know if they will be able to recover from a significant outage. Products such as Continuity Software's RecoverGuard are long overdue, and should help shine light on the faults that keep critical recoveries from happening, well before a crisis."

Full DR site tests are highly expensive and time-consuming with failure analysis difficult. The RecoverGuard Software uses agent-less monitoring to to create a database (Oracle 10g) of the production and DR site infrastructures and then runs a gap signature check against them, like the way an anti-virus scan is run. The gap signatures represent the cumulative knowledge of DR specialists and are constantly updated.

RecoverGuard issues a report identifying gaps, such as disk volumes holding a database and assigned to the wrong server at the DR site, details their severities, and suggests how they might be fixed.

It currently supports all standard servers and databases, EMC and NetApp storage products with more being added. The product interoperates with IBM Tivoli and HP's OpenView. It can be left to run regularly and re-scan the production and DR infrastructures providing regular and updated gap reports. As a by-product, storage inefficiencies such as unused replicas can be identified and wasted space recovered.

Competing products

A Continuity Software spokesperson said: "No other vendor offers the automated DR gap analysis and reporting features and functionality that Continuity Software delivers."

CEO Gil Hecht said that there are two competing products: Illuminator and Onaro: "Illuminator started in the backup monitoring space – competing with companies like Bocada and WysDM. They arrived too late to the market and failed to compete. As a result, they’ve restarted the company around our market. They’ve done this restart approx 12 months after we started and they’re significantly behind us…"

"Onaro is focused on the SAN connectivity layer as opposed to our focus on Disaster Recovery Management. (It) can find problems in connection between servers and storage by scanning the storage switches. We scan the higher levels of the databases, servers & storage frames and therefore look at the logical problem of making sure Disaster Recovery will function and data will be protected."

The product is bought on an annual license basis. The price is about $2,000 per protected server (£1100 at ordinary conversion rate) with price breaks based on the size of environment.

Businesses can take advantage of a free 48-hour 30-server check by RecoverGuard.