Data Vaulting Service From Sysarc

Online Backup Whitepaper:

SysArc Data Vaulting Overview

Executive Summary

The need for reliable data backup has never been greater. Recent studies have shown that 50% of companies that experience total data loss are out of business within one year and 90% within two years. Data backup is no longer an optional insurance policy.

Tape backup systems have been the predominant method of data backup for over 40 years. Like most 40-year-old technologies, tape is outmoded for data backup and restore. According to the research firm The Yankee Group, 40% of tape backups fail. In addition, industry analyst Baroudi Bloor reports that 50% of tape restores fail. Lastly, the Gartner Group predicts that by the end of 2008, expenditures on disk-based backup will be greater than expenditures on tape backup.

The SysArc Data Vaulting service offers world class unattended online backup and restore capabilities. This offering differs from traditional backup and restore software in the marketplace as the backup/restore functionality was built for service provisioning from the ground up and also incorporates a variety of specialized tools, functions, and architecture.

This service extends the traditional client/server architecture of most data protection and management products available on the market by adopting an “agentless” architecture. This makes the service unique because there is no need to install an “agent” or “client” on every target machine that needs to be protected. It fully integrates with existing Windows NT/2000/2003 domains, Trusts and Novell NDS trees, and otherwise adopts the LAN’s existing security settings. The only exception to this “agentless” architecture is for MS-Exchange Message Level Restore (MLR), which requires a small agent on the Exchange server due to Microsoft-imposed restrictions.


SysArc Data Vaulting is comprised of the SysArc Gateway and the SysArc Data Vault. The SysArc Gateway (installed within the customer infrastructure) runs on a Windows 2003 Server platform and collects data to be protected. The SysArc Gateway sends the data in compressed and encrypted format to the SysArc Data Vault (installed in our data center) which runs on a Windows 2003 Server platform.

The SysArc Gateway hosts two software applications. DS-Client is a Windows NT type service that is always operating to check schedule times, implement file and data block transfers, and perform backups/restores. DS-User is a graphical user interface (GUI) that is used to configure, control and monitor the DS-Client application. DS-User may also be installed on any PC to monitor the activity on the DS-Client application on the Gateway (so long as there is IP connectivity between the PC hosting DS-User and the Gateway).

A single instance of the SysArc Gateway software can protect data residing in numerous servers and workstations across the network. For remote offices, another SysArc Gateway is installed at each location.

A smaller footprint software suite (also consisting of DS-User and DS-Client) exists on each laptop PC to be backed up. This software handles backing up files on the individual laptop PC by communicating directly with the data center, bypassing the SysArc Gateway. This architecture allows the laptop or desktop to be backed up anywhere in the world, as long as an Internet connection exists.

Data Backup

SysArc Data Vaulting stores customers’ data in encrypted and compressed format to ensure and protect privacy and confidentiality. Moreover, SysArc Data Vaulting optimizes the amount of data stored on the SysArc Data Vault by using delta blocking and common file elimination technologies. Delta blocking ensures that after an initial data backup, no updated file will ever be backed up in its entirety. Rather, this file is segmented into 1K and 2K blocks and then backup occurs only on the changed blocks. This approach typically provides significant storage size savings over traditional back up techniques where a single change in a file entails backing up the entire file. Common file elimination ensures that the same data is never transmitted offsite more than twice, thereby saving the bandwidth to transmit only new, unique data. Due to the way this technique is applied, it does not matter if the files are on different servers, or even have different filenames, the SysArc Gateway will still never transmit more than two copies.

These two processes, along with compression, reduce the amount of data that is stored on the SysArc Data Vault. In addition, this figure is typically much lower than the amount of data that is actually protected. Since we charge you based on the amount of data stored, substantial cost savings can be realized.

At all times in the process, your data is encrypted (up to 256 bit AES) so that no one, not even SysArc personnel, can access your data. You set the encryption key and thus you control all access.

The SysArc Gateway retains the latest copy of all backed up data. All previous generations of data (a generation is defined as a backed up version of a file) are stored on the SysArc Data Vault.

Data Restore

The SysArc Gateway console allows the authorized customer network administrator to quickly and easily select and restore data. Data can be restored to the original server or to a remote system. Multiple restore operations to separate servers can be performed from a single DS-User Administrator console, making this particularly suitable for a help desk role.

Any restore of the latest version of the backed-up data (e.g. the current MS Exchange email information store) can be accomplished by restoring from the SysArc Gateway. Alternatively, restores of past versions of data involve accessing the data on the SysArc Data Vault.

There are three methods in which data can be restored, each of which represents a unique scale of data restore. The first is online, where data is restored across the network. The second occurs when the restore data is delivered via a portable SysArc disk or media. The third is for major disaster recovery and uses a portable SysArc Data Vault that is delivered to the customer’s site or alternative disaster recovery location.

Data Restore – Online

The primary method of data restoration is online. Using a wizard driven GUI, your administrator or help desk personnel can easily search for and select the proper data, its proper generation and the target destination server to enable restores in minutes. There is no need to retrieve tapes, mount them, and then hope that the media was not physically damaged during transfer. Depending on the version of the data, the SysArc system automatically searches its archives on the SysArc Gateway and the SysArc Data Vault to find the optimal location from which to implement the restore. Typical data size on this type of restore is 1 MB to 10 GB.

Data Restore – Portable Disk

The second method of data restoration is via a SysArc portable disk. Using another wizard driven GUI, your administrator or help desk personnel will request that a copy of the backed-up data is copied to a portable SysArc disk/media. Once our data center staff accomplishes the restore to the disk/media, the disk/media will be transported to your site. Another on-screen wizard will guide your administrator or help desk personnel through the process of restoring the information from the disk/media to a target destination server. This level of restore is used in instances of major data loss, like a major database server or multiple servers. Typical data size on this type of restore is 10 GB to 100 GB.

Data Restore – Portable Data Vault

The third restore option is to request a portable SysArc Data Vault. This could be used as an alternative to the portable SysArc disk or in a major disaster situation where complete back-up data is required. SysArc will deliver the portable SysArc Data Vault to either the customer’s site or an alternate disaster recovery location. The portable SysArc Data Vault is then connected to the customer’s SysArc Gateway via a private LAN connection. In the event of a complete loss of the customer’s Gateway, an alternative Gateway will be designated. Data can then be restored in the same way as for an online restore but with the performance benefit of the portable SysArc Data Vault being on an internal SysArc Gateway LAN. Typical data size on this type of restore is hundreds of GB to multiple TB.


SysArc Data Vaulting can protect a range of network platforms and applications such as Windows, NetWare, UNIX, and Linux based data. NetWare 3 capability includes support for bindery, and NetWare 4 and 5 include support for NDS. Windows environments are fully supported including permissions and streams on NTFS volumes, registry, active directory, and so on.

SysArc extends its backup and restore capability by adding its SysArc Data Vaulting for Laptops and Desktops product, which provides the ability to backup laptop users while they are on travel, working at home, or working at a customer site. A scaled down version of the Gateway software (DS-Client and DS-User) is installed locally on the laptop that periodically (during a specific time schedule) checks for an Internet connection to the SysArc Data Vault. Once a connection is detected, the agent sends the changed data in compressed and encrypted format to the SysArc Data Vault.

The agent runs in the background and can be customized to use very little CPU power on the laptop (as low as 5%). The user is notified when two scheduled backups have been missed. Restores can be performed either online, or via a portable SysArc disk/media.

MS-SQL and MS-Exchange are fully supported without a need to stop the service or install any agent on the host machine. This is accomplished because Microsoft developed SQL and Exchange with the backup requirement in mind. Both products can respond to API calls requesting the services to dump their data, while online, to an external destination. The SysArc Gateway simply asks the specified MS SQL or Exchange server to stream the data to the SysArc Gateway where it is compressed, encrypted and transmitted to the SysArc Data Vault. This process is a supported Microsoft function and guarantees compatibility with your existing Microsoft systems. Online (also known as “hot”) backups for Oracle 8 are supported as well.

For MS-Exchange Message Level Restore (known more generically as “Brick Level Restore”), an agent is installed on the MS Exchange server to adhere to Microsoft requirements. This allows for backup and restore of individual MS-Exchange and MS-Outlook mailboxes and folders (such as contacts or calendar), as well as individual items within the mailbox or folder. The Message Level Restore (MLR) feature allows for restore of mail messages, calendar items, etc while the MS Exchange system remains online and fully functional for all users.

James Eglin

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