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FalconStor Software Inc. has upgraded its software-based iSCSI storage server, imbuing it with new capabilities that allow it to be used not only as a storage controller but also as an archiving, backup and restore system.

The product, which typically is incorporated into systems by FalconStor’s OEM and reseller partners, aims to eliminate downtime and provide better data protection. It achieves this level of disaster recovery protection through the software, which can be used to replicate a local drive or data on a local drive to the iSCSI storage, rendering a backup copy.

The system’s disaster recovery capabilities are based on an IP-based delta replication of an application host’s mission-critical data, from a primary site to a remote site over IP in a peer-to-peer or many-to-one configuration, according to John Lallier, vice president of technology at the Melville, N.Y.-based company.

That’s important because delta replication is very efficient, said Peter Gerr, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass. “It allows you to transfer the minimum of data across the network, meaning that you’ll have a much more consistent and fresher set of data,” he said. “So it’s not only network-efficient but will help organizations recover more quickly.”

The FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server also can be used in conjunction with FalconStor’s BareMetal Recovery, which provides access to backup images and can boot off of them in the event of a failure on a local drive.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs’ review of FalconStor’s iSCSI Storage Server.

“You could bring up the whole system as is while the existing hard drive is being replaced, then re-sync it back to the old image and have a working system without the downtime,” Lallier said.

The product also includes a feature to ensure consistency between snapshots—an important feature for systems that make significant use of applications such as Oracle, SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange.

“If you just snapshot a disk—and most databases use several—you have to have them all snapshot at the same point in time. You can’t have them even a second off because when you try to bring that image up later, the database complains because the log doesn’t match the database and vice versa,” Lallier said.

The FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server for Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 also creates parallel, active storage paths that transparently reroutes traffic to a redundant storage path without interruption; load balancing; and a two-node, active-active failover-fail-back cluster configuration to avoid interruptions to application hosts due to failure.

The reason the iSCSI Storage Server can provide these functions, Lallier explained, is because unlike most products with similar features, it’s software-based.

“A hardware-based solution gives you part of the solution—the storage—but it’s not giving you the tools to make use of it,” he said. “We’re offering a solution that not only provides iSCSI storage, but a mechanism to use it to be your backup system or archiving system. The goal is to provide a full solution.”

Equally noteworthy is FalconStor’s effort to ensure that the iSCSI version of its storage server is fully compliant and integrated with Windows Storage Server 2003, Gerr said.

“The fact that FalconStor has integrated with Windows Storage Server is the right move for the market it is trying to serve—the SMB and distributed branch office market,” he said. Other solutions, he noted, aren’t integrated with Windows Storage Server, such as Overland Storage’s REO line of disk backup products with an iSCSI interface.

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