The latest version of Microsoft's Data Protection Manager is now in public beta.
Although Version 2 was first released two weeks ago, it received its official launch into the UK market at Storage Expo in London on Wednesday, where Microsoft claimed it was a major advance on Version 1.
Data Protection Manager, first launched in 2005, allows an organisation to back up corporate data and restore it in the event of a system failure.
The main changes in Version 2 include direct support for more Microsoft software applications, direct support for tape storage in addition to the existing support for disk storage, shorter backup windows and the promise of "zero data loss recovery for applications" and a "bare metal" recovery facility.
The most noticeable change for users is the extension of support for new applications. Where Microsoft only included file support in Version 1, the beta of Data Protection Manager Version 2 (DPMv2) now directly supports Exchange, SQL and SharePoint, and more applications should be added to that list in due course.
The support for Exchange includes support for configuration management tools, such as Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) and Local Continuous Replication (LCR) clusters.
Support for SQL now includes advanced configuration management of mirrored clusters and shorter backup windows, Microsoft says.
According to Microsoft's Group Product Manager for DPM, Bill Shelton, the emphasis in Version 2 is on continuous data protection, including replication and snap-shots being available "at a much cheaper price and on commodity hardware".
Shelton claimed that many organisations have become used to paying "a high price for these functions".
At the same time, Shelton said, Microsoft has come to understand the nature of data and the needs of a workable and reliable backup and restore strategy. In performance terms, this means the speed to create backups and the speed with which they can be restored in the event of a failure.
These things "are not just a function of the amount of data but of the nature of the data and how often it changes", he said. For that reason, Microsoft had gone back and changed a lot of things in DPM. "We have produced some entirely new software to do these things much better," Shelton said.
According to Shelton, the new version is much more efficient as it has brand new de-duplication software, and now has shorter backup windows and smaller backups, thanks to Microsoft's Express Full technology.
But Shelton would not reveal the final price of DPM Version 2. "We have not decided on pricing," he said. He did say that there are "many new features" in Version 2 that could justify a higher price, but said there was also a case for keeping it at the same price.
Microsoft DPM Version 1 costs $950 (£509) per server with three users. Microsoft partners who are already using DPM include HP, Fujitsu and Quantum.