Double-Take puts disaster recovery in Amazon cloud

The Double-Take Cloud software uses Amazon's EC2 for backup and as a platform to run recovered workloads on while a failed server is fixed

Double-Take Software is teaming up with Amazon to deliver a cloud-based backup service for small and medium-sized businesses.

Launched on Monday, the Double-Take Cloud software backs up servers to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service for disaster-recovery purposes. It provides a real-time copy of a workload image that trickles updates continuously to storage owned by the online service.

The product is based around the company's existing Double-Take Backup, which is typically used to replicate servers in smaller businesses and branch offices of larger organisations, but now includes an interface with EC2.

Double-Take intends to enlist other cloud providers alongside Amazon for the state replication-based service.

"This is our first iteration of a cloud offering," said Bob Roudebush, director of product marketing at the disaster-recovery specialist. "In future, we think customers will want different cloud providers, so we can act as a broker or clearing house for infrastructure services.

"By the end of 2010, we will have developed the system so the customer's only relationship is with us. The value proposition is that we can help the customer decide where their data gets backed up, and it lowers the complexity of managing multiple cloud-provider relationships," he added.

Double-Take Cloud is available both under a permanent licence, where businesses buy the back-end EC2 access themselves, and as a service that includes Double-Take's software and Amazon's cloud server and storage.

"We noticed that lots of customers didn't have multiple datacentres or multiple sites," said Roudebush. "So the cloud is the way to solve that."

Recovery is relatively fast, according to Roudebush. If a server fails or there is some form of disaster, the software creates a virtual machine on Amazon's servers and copies data from the backed-up server into it. The system then tailors the server to its new virtual wrapper, including altering items such as hardware interfaces and IP addresses.

Businesses can continue their recovered workloads on the Amazon platform while they fix the failed server. "You can be back up and running in an hour or so," Roudebush said.

Customers will need to reconfigure the VPN that connects their installation to Amazon in order to redirect traffic destined for the failed server to the Amazon virtual machine, Roudebush noted. Double-Take Cloud manages the rest of the process, including administration of the Amazon-hosted storage and virtual machines.

Only a handful of companies are offering the type of host-based, integrated recovery solutions (data, applications and operating systems) that Double-Take offers, according to analyst Steve Scully, a research manager at IDC.

"While several of those could take advantage of cloud resources, I am not aware of any that has the type of partnership Double-Take has announced," Scully said. "Probably the largest competitive offerings are in the area of online backup services, but they only protect and recover the data, not the applications and operating systems."

If bought as a service, Double-Take Cloud costs £95 per month, per server. The price of a permanent licence in the UK was not available at time of publication, but costs $1,295 (£839) in the US.