Real-time Data Protection without Host Agents: Is it Possible and Who Does it?

The benefits that continuous data protection (CDP) technology provides as part of a company’s overall data protection strategy are becoming more evident everyday. Point-in-time restores, faster recoveries and off-site replication of data for disaster recoveries are just some of the benefits that companies using CDP are already experiencing. However one of the challenges that companies may encounter as they look to deploy CDP that may hinder or even prevent its adoption is the need to deploy host agents on servers.

Deployment of host agents is almost always a prerequisite when protecting Windows or Linux servers as they are needed to handle one of CDP’s unique requirements: copying every host write I/O. Without this host agent, the only other way to copy write I/Os is to attach host servers to either a storage area network (SAN) or a storage system that supports CDP. That usually limits CDP to high-end application servers and even then companies may still need to deploy agents to obtain the functionality they seek.

Yet today’s requirements for corporate data protection for all application servers are increasing so companies now expect near real-time protection and recovery regardless of what type of server it is. In fact, it can be argued that the need for near real-time protection and recovery on Linux and Windows servers is as great as for high-end application servers since there are so many more Linux and Windows servers in corporate environments and fewer administrators to manage them. Since administrators may not know specific application recovery point objectives (RPOs) or when these objectives change on these servers, they can use CDP as a means to dynamically meet the changing requirements of these servers. Further, CDP can reduce the amount of time and administrator intervention needed to do such recoveries.

The trade-off is that companies usually need to deploy CDP host agents on their Linux and Windows servers to achieve these results. However there is one notable exception to this rule: Asigra Televaulting. While Televaulting’s primary claim to fame is that it can perform agentless backups, what is not so well known is that it can also agentlessly protect servers using its built-in CDP feature. The exact way that Asigra does this is part of its intellectual property and it does not publicly disclose those details but at a high level it works as follows:

  • The DS-Client (Asigra Televaulting’s local backup server) registers itself with the target server it is going to backup so it is notified of changes to files or emails that it hosts.
  • Whenever the DS-Client receives a notification from the target server that a change to a file or email has occurred, it queues the specific file or email on the target server for backup.
  • The target server then transmits that file or email to the DS-Client. Since the DS-Client deduplicates the file or email, it only stores the changed blocks of data in that email or file.
  • Finally, the DS-Client compresses and decrypts the file or email before sending it to the DS-Server (Asigra Televaulting’s central backup server) for off-site data protection and recovery.

Using CDP to deliver real-time data protection at the email or file level with near-real time recoveries is something that many Linux and Windows administrators may crave but view as out of reach when they contemplate the need to install agents on hundreds of servers (physical or virtual). Asigra Telelvaulting overcomes this objection. Since CDP is core to Televaulting’s software offering, companies receive it when they select Televaulting while eliminating the need for the deployment of host agents on servers. Though companies still need to verify that email or file level CDP is sufficient for their environment, Asigra Televaulting provides companies a transparent way to introduce CDP into their Linux and Windows environment while helping them achieve the higher levels of protection and recovery for these application servers that many companies are seeking.

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