Briefing Note: Backup is about Recovery, so is Axcient’s Latest Release

There is an overused saying in the data protection market, “it is all about recovery”. I often debate this phrase since no recovery happens if there are not frequent and quality backups being made. But it is fair to say that recovery is important. Anything that can be done to make recovery faster and less complex is worth doing. The latest release of Axcient’s Business Recovery Cloud has several new capabilities that should do just that.

Who is Axcient?

Axcient was one of the first cloud backup providers that focused solely on business backup. They were also one of the first to develop their solution from the ground up with the cloud in mind. We tested the Axcient solution years ago and found it easy to use and reliable even back then. They were also one of the first to provide recovery and disaster recovery as a service.

Their architecture, pioneering five years ago, is pretty standard fare now. An appliance (physical or virtual) is installed at the business location and server, desktop and laptop images (physical or virtual) are backed up to that appliance. Data is then replicated from the appliance to Axcient’s cloud where it is stored and made available for either on-premise or in-cloud recoveries.

While in-cloud recovery, or Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) as it is now known, seems like a perfect match for business, it is critical that you ask your potential provider some hard questions. I cover this in detail in my recent article “DRaaS requires new questions”. Given Axcient’s staying power and my first hand experience with their service, I’m confident that they can handle any hard questions you throw at them.

Axcient also has a unique way of delivering updates, one that involves multiple releases throughout the year. I like this strategy. Instead of overwhelming their customers with 50 new features, they provide features as they are ready in smaller, bite sized chunks. This makes learning the new features much easier on the stretched-too-thin IT staff.

What’s New?

With Axcient’s latest release, recovery capabilities were top of mind and they tie into the “all about recovery” mantra. For example, in the latest release organizations can export any physical or virtual server replicated to their service as a VMDK file. While Axcient has offered instant on-premise or in-cloud VM recovery for a while, bringing this capability to physical systems is unique. It allows IT to convert a physical server to a virtual one on their timetable, not one dictated by the backup application.

Instant failover can now also be from any snapshot, the Axcient term for a point in time protection copy, either on the local appliance or in the Axcient cloud. In the past only the latest snapshot was eligible for instant recovery.

The new release also delivers drag and drop recovery from the local appliance via integration with Windows Explorer. This allows users to recover specific files or folders from an image directly to a target device without having to go to a separate restoration interface. This feature should also encourage a more aggressive removal of old data, since it can be quickly recovered from the appliance.

As mentioned above, backup being all about recovery is only valid if there is a good and recent backup. For DRaaS to be effective the cloud has to have as recent a version of a server as possible, and replication time can be a factor. To help protect systems faster, Axcient also improved its replication algorithm that can now replicate changes to the appliance 3X faster on average than prior releases.

StorageSwiss Take

It’s hard not to be impressed with Axcient. They have been in the market for a long time and keep adding capabilities that customers want, while improving the underlying mechanics of the service at the same time. Their solution covers almost every aspect of backup and recovery that an organization would need. It deserves strong consideration for data protection managers considering the cloud for backup and recovery operations.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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