Innovations: New data backup system has advantages

Chris Wiser, chief executive officer of Waukesha-based TechSquad, and his team of employees have been working for the last year and a half to come up with a solution to the problems associated with traditional tape and hard drive data backup systems.

The result of their work is TechSquad’s DataVault system, which turns traditional system recovery tactics into something that works cohesively with a company’s business model and does not halt productivity.

“Basically, we just had a problem with the old system,” Wiser said. “Not only was there the human factor, (someone had to change over the tapes each night), but the tapes are also plastic and they can sometimes melt. We decided to come up with a solution that addressed all the pains of the industry.”

According to Wiser, DataVault will work with small to medium-size companies but can also be tailored to work for large companies. The system costs relatively the same amount as a traditional tape back up system and can be leased for around $170 per month, he said.

“DataVault takes out the human factor and the downtime associated with traditional backup systems,” he said. “There are also no tapes and there is at least two terabytes of storage space.”

The DataVault Network Attached Storage device (NAS device) replaces traditional tapes or optical drives. According to Wiser, the NAS device is located next to a company’s server in either a rack or tower model and takes image snapshots of the server every 15 minutes.

“Typical systems back up on a nightly basis,” Wiser said. “What the DataVault unit does is it takes block level images of the server’s data, right at the block level and stores them in its system every 15 minutes.”

In addition to the NAS device backup, the company has a redundant co-location process set up in Pennsylvania and Nevada that remotely backs up each system nightly.

“Analysts have studied that most of the time tapes become useless, either because they failed to really back up the system or because they aren’t combined into an auto-joining system. Companies sometimes have five or six tapes with their incremental backups on it that they can’t really use to get back into their system without too much productivity time being lost.”

A speedy recovery time is also something companies can depend on DataVault for, Wiser said. According to him, typical tapes or a hard drive system could take as long as 48 hours to recover the system after the server crashes, and even then there is no guarantee that data won’t be lost.

“If a server fails, what the DataVault system does is virtualizes the last 15-minute block increment that was saved, and can then be re-launched as the company’s actual server until we can get the problem fixed,” Wiser said.

It takes TechSquad about 30 minutes to remotely access the server and get the NAS device up and running as the replacement server while they fix the problem, he said.

The minimal down time associated with the DataVault system is extremely important for companies running on a day to day basis, Wiser said.

“Those companies can’t afford to lose productivity time, especially in this economy,” he said.

Another thing that makes DataVault convenient is that it is compatible with every type of server available, so there is no need for a computer manufacturer to ship components of a new server or back up system, he said.

Once the problem is fixed in the company’s actual server, TechSquad can swap the two systems back without any loss of data.

“The NAS device functions completely as its own server and even continues to back itself up,” Wiser said. “We have full redundancy built into these units so there is complete swap ability once a company’s server is up and running again.””

According to Wiser, the NAS system has the capability to function as a server for a long period of time, and once it is time to make the swap back to the original server TechSquad can plan when to do that so it doesn’t interfere with the work day.

“We are no longer calling it a backup or system recovery,” Chris said. “Our whole model, and the mission of the DataVault system is based on business continuity, and making it possible for a business to run efficiently and successfully despite an unplanned failure within their server system.” 

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