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Cofio AIMstor Brings Forward a New Option in Unified Data Protection

Few things in the IT industry are truly both push button and fully featured.  This adage is so engrained in the community that when a product line breaks that axiom it defies belief.  Cofio’s AIMstor is designed to do just that.
 
In one concise but powerful package it provides features that its competitors have broken into several sub-products.  On top of these operations is an easy to use but powerful data flow based GUI interface for centrally managing business procedures and turning them into real life data protection policies.

Many organizations have a small number of employees, even a single employee, who understands how their data is protected.  However these employees are usually relegated to using a whiteboard for planning and implementing it.

This is where Cofio departs from the pack.  It has succeeded in creating an easy to use and understand GUI to replace the venerable whiteboard.  The interface frees both the user and the administrator saving precious man hours while speeding recovery times.

The visual presentation eases understanding of data lifecycles and provides a unified management interface with data flows managed using Cofio’s flowchart-style view.
 
As data passes from node to node operations and classifications can be applied.  Applying a classification determines what data will flow on to the next step.
 
Next comes an operation that determines data life cycles; for example, administrators can set policies such as “keep each snapshot for 90 days”.  These simple concepts, combined with basic logic blocks, provide an extremely powerful yet easy to use and understand picture of where and how your data is protected.

One of the core design objectives the team at Cofio began with was the ability to centrally manage large distributed environments.  Small businesses are likely to have laptops for sales force and users telecommuting in some remote offices.  As a result, backup designs quickly get complicated.

To combat these complexities Cofio chose a distributed agent topology. In a distributed topology an agent is installed on each resource that is to be protected.  The agent can then be located anywhere in the world.
 
Examples might include virtual machines, a sales force laptop, a remote office, a telecommuting employee or server at headquarters.  A distributed topology is a natural fit for cloud computing as well.
 
The second part of the distributed model is where Cofio’s data repository lives. Where Cofio places its repository is one of the more important pieces in the distributed model.
 
The basic rule of thumb is to place your real-time and short-term backups as close to the source as possible.  Then as backups move through their lifecycle they are moved further and further away from the source towards the “center” of the environment such that with each such successive replication and deduplication of this data the environment becomes more resilient and the data more structured for long term archival and retention purposes.

AIMstor’s tools simplify the deployment and management of this environment.  AIMstor’s management GUI aids in visualization and eliminates errors by validating the environment every time a policy is updated. At the same time its data flow view is self-documenting scaling both vertically and horizontally from a single server environment with telecommuters to worldwide organizations with remote locations.

Users should also realize immediate performance improvements in backup using AIMstor’s agent technology.  Using metadata stored in the repository, the client is able to determine which blocks within a file have changed since the last snapshot.
 
After the initial seeding of new data only the bytes that have been changed since the last backup will be transmitted to the repository.  The same goes for transmitting data between repositories or for restoring data from the repositories.

The use of deduplication within the repository and during initial seeding of data saves both bandwidth and disc space by eliminating the transmission of redundant data.  The repository then indexes each block to save storage space and speed reintegration of the data if required.

The combination of intelligent byte change transmission and block level deduplication increases network and disk performance dramatically.  Cofio reports that their technique can reduce bandwidth loads by as much as 95%.

Most data flows will at some point feed into an AIMstor repository.  By architecting repositories as object storage AIMstor is able to handle deduplication on the fly and across all data flows.
 
The classification system mentioned previously includes ample metadata.   That metadata enables file versioning, authentication, tracking and auditing across all the data flow policies in the system regardless of source.
 
All of this complexity is presented to users as a point in time snapshot.  The use of snapshots combined with strong metadata enables AIMstor to support file versioning and tracking as well.

The whole point of all these features is that when it comes time your data can be found and retrieved.  The restoration view utilizes now standardized presentation methods to aid end users in finding their data. 

Although a browser view is available, most end users will utilize the search function.  In this primary tool snapshots are presented through a search interface that enables the end user to utilize AIMstor’s built in tagging and indexing system to find the data they need.

Searches are common place in data reporting and versioning environments.  AIMstor’s search function allows access to all major metadata stored on each snapshot.  Display of versioning information is selectable to de-clutter the display when necessary.

One of the more frustrating aspects of most data protection suites is that vendors sell them piece meal.  Every purchasing decision maker has a story about a vendor’s sales team promising them the world only to find out that the features are spread amongst several products modeled in such a way that it forces them to make multiple purchases in order to get the features they want.

Cofio’s model breaks that mold.  It offers a single unified package that contains features such as:

  • Multi-Tiered Deduplication
  • Scheduled and Live Backup
  • Continuous Data Protection (CDP)
  • Replication
  • Bare Metal Recovery
  • File Versioning
  • File Tracking
  • File System and Block Level Control

Cofio delivers what many small and midsize businesses and enterprises are looking for in a data management and protection solution: an easier, simpler way to manage and protect data in their environments in multiple ways.

Beneath the surface it uses the latest and greatest technologies to deliver this functionality. But it more importantly has constructed its GUI so that SMBs and SME can take advantage of these features without first having to become data management or protection experts in order to do so.

Cofio makes demos and free downloads of AIMstor through its website.

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