FalconStor has announced the first continuous data protection product integrated as a VMware virtual appliance. It means virtual machines can have their data protected second by second with recovery to any point in time before a crash.

Typically, application and server data is protected at intervals by being backed up to a tape or disk-based backup system. Intervals of 24 hours between backups are common. With VMware many more applications than usual run in a physical server, each one operating inside a virtual machine composed of the operating system, the application code and any other utility items. A VMware hypervisor schedules the starting up, running, and closedown of virtual machines.

VMware has instigated a backup interface, whereby backups can be run at intervals. This Consolidated Backup software is supported by leading backup software vendors, and backups will be made periodically as with physical servers.

"The challenge for VMware physical and virtual environments is in their complexity and slow recovery procedures, plus we have found that backup and disaster recovery procedures are difficult to validate," said Kozo Shiota, president and CEO of Networld, a VMware-skilled software and services supplier based in Japan.

Until now there has been no continuous data protection offering for VMware virtual machines. With multiple virtual machines in one physical server the journaled disk writes have to have a virtual machine stamp, they may have to be collected from myriad different hard drive ports, and the CDP software needs to be virtual machine-aware in order to roll back a server or a particular virtual machine to a particular point in time.

What FalconStor has done is to take its CDP product and package it as a VMware virtual appliance, a pre-built, pre-configured and ready-to-run software application packaged with the operating system inside a virtual machine. The company says it can be installed in ten minutes.

FalconStor's CDP Virtual Appliance offers protection for databases, messaging data and files used by virtual machines and entire systems. There can be physical-to-virtual (P2V) recovery of a crashed physical server, virtual-to-virtual (V2V) recovery of a crashed guest system, and recovery of a lost file or database, regardless of size, in minutes. (More details here.)

A continuous data protection (CDP) product runs in a physical server and captures and disk writes, journaling them to a disk file with a time stamp. This means that, if a crash occurs, the server's state can be rolled back to a point in time before the crash and restarted with no data loss.

The new FalconStore product also includes a replication option to extend data protection to remote sites and so improve disaster recovery.

Double-Take has a version of its replication product for VMware virtual machines. This is not continuous though, with at least fifteen minutes between replication sessions.

The price For FalconStor's CDP Virtual Appliance is around $10,000 (about £5,000 at ordinary conversion rates).