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26 Nov 2010
(4 Stars out of Possible 5)
Reviewed on November 26, 2010
SecurStore, powered by Asigra Cloud Backup Software, is an automated, secure, compliant, and stable; fully supported and managed off-site, online backup and recovery service, established in 1991. SecurStore is headquartered in the UK with data centers in the UK and Iceland, servicing customers located in Europe, USA and India. The company proposes to expand its services to South America, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
SecurStore offers an agentless architecture and best of the breed encryption, compression and de-duplication software to its customers and believes in reducing costs of storage and recovery while optimizing on software features. The software is platform independent and can perform backup operations from all types of IT environments, which include Windows, Mac, Linux, SQL, Exchange & many virtual platforms. Customers can be confident that even before approaching SecurStore, the solution will support their infrastructure.
The company and data centers have both been certified by British Standards Institute and ANAB for ISO 27001 (The Information Security Standard). Due to strict regulations in place and continual emphasis on security, having this certification enables customers to adhere to, and fulfil any compliance requirements.
SecurStore has successfully partnered with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) to provide customers with a secure storage system, using NAS platforms and storage from HDS. This is entirely in keeping with its stated mission of “providing customers with a secure, reliable and sustainable recovery solution”. The partnership is also a demonstration of SecurStore’s commitment to protect, manage and recover customer data with quality hardware and software.
Customer data is replicated across two UK sites to ensure redundancy of data and insurance against disaster of any kind. The additional data center in Iceland is also a green data center using only green energy (Geothermal and Hydro) that minimizes the company’s carbon footprint and is an expression of their sense of social responsibility.
Geographically, the company offers support for remote sites, multiple offices and laptop users. Laptop users, in fact, have a special lite client, which can be mass deployed via active directory, therefore, providing multiple backups for many users at ease. The multi-tier solution makes data backup and recovery very simple and fully sustainable despite natural data growth. Critical data is stored on the primary tier for rapid recovery whilst non-critical data can be automatically moved to a secondary tier with recovery times being maximum 24 hours.
Backup of data can be executed via public or private cloud or users can opt to backup their data with a hybrid cloud solution. Users can generate their own 128-bit or 256-bit encryption keys and ensure complete security of their data.
Bare metal restore is entirely possible with SecurStore backup solution. Data can be recovered to the same computing environment or on to an entirely new environment, either hardware or virtualized without a glitch.
All technology provided by SecurStore is aligned with disaster recovery services that bring ultimate sense of comfort to the customer. The local copy storage tool offered by SecurStore makes for seamless business continuity. Enterprises can now have a local copy of the backed up data in a storage location of their choice on their own LAN. This makes it possible to get critical system up and running in no time.
Additionally, SecurStore provides a disaster recovery (DR) server at the customers’ premises as a special service. The DR server is loaded with all the software required for the backup needs of the customer. It also has the facility to turn on virtual copies of the backed up data in the event of a server failing within the customer environment. The servers are also provided off-site by the company if the customer so requests and they can be accessed via VPN, Remote Desktop or Citrix.
SecurStore support services are one of the best in the cloud backup arena. Experts and support staff are available round the clock 24X7X365 via phone and email to attend to any issues customers may have in installing and using the software.
SecurStore provides value for money and there are no hidden costs, extras, restrictions or set up costs. Customers are only charged monthly for stored data after compression, de-duplication and delta-blocking technologies have taken place. They are also in control of their own data, and therefore, can choose what and how to backup.
SecurStore is definitely cloud backup software that can be recommended with no hesitation whatsoever. It scores a 4.0 on a scale of 5 when compared with other backup solutions in the niche.
Name: SecurStore Ltd.
The registration/subscription process is also proactively monitored by the company. This is done in two steps.
As a first step, the company creates an account for each registrant and generates a “.CRI” file containing the user id, account id, and DS-Client id for every subscriber. This file is independently dispatched to the subscriber to the registered email id. The subscriber needs to save this file on the machine on which the DS-Client is to be installed. The data from the “.CRI” file, which includes the user name, account number and DS-Client number, will be picked up by the installation wizard during installation when the customer browses to the file. So, customers need to remember the location at which the file is saved so that they can navigate to it when prompted to locate it. Alternately, customers can print out the file and enter the data manually during installation of the DS-Client.
As a second step, a sales executive from the company gets in touch with the customer telephonically to ascertain whether they need any kind of technical assistance in installing the DS-Client or making the backup process operational. They even offer to do a remote login and assist the customer through the installation process if the customer so desires/permits.
The installation process takes about 20 minutes. The subscriber must click on the setup.exe file located within the DS-Client folder. The “setup.exe” conjures up the Smart Wizard, which guides the end-user through the process of installing the software on the system. There are around 21-22 screens demanding inputs from the user or informing the user about the status of the installation.
Let us look at some of the most significant screens of the smart wizard.
The installation process checks whether the client machine on which the DS-Client is being installed has an instance of the SQL Server 2005. SQL Server 2005 is required for creating the DS-Client database. The DS-Client database stores backup logs and configuration information. If there is no SQL Server 2005 installation, the smart wizard recommends that the end-user permit the wizard install the software. On accepting the prompt, the smart wizard installs an instance of the SQL Server 2005 on the client machine. If there is a pre-existing Microsoft SQL Server 2005 installation, the end-user is prompted to select the SQL Server instance and it proposes to create the DS-Client database and store the backup logs and configuration information.
Once the SQL Server 2005 installation is complete, the DS-Client installation proceeds apace. The end-user has to just consent to the various recommendations and click the next button to proceed until the user is prompted to select the installation type. The user can choose to install the DS-Client with all the features enabled for online backup or can select the Self Contained Installation that helps backup statistical information or backups to the same machine. The user does not need an Internet connection and data is not sent online to the remote server if this type of installation is selected.
The next screen of significance is the “DS-Client Service Logon Account” information screen. The DS-Client service can run as a local system account or a specific account, either locally on the computer or on the domain. The user has to provide valid credentials to the DS-Client during setup before any kind of backup activity can be performed. The platform on which the DS-Client is being installed will determine the kind of authentication that is required.
One of the last steps of the installation is to select the encryption key type.
This is one of the most important steps of the installation as the encryption key is something that the user needs to keep safe in case of a disaster. All data is encrypted during backup and no one can access the data without the correct encryption key. If at any time a re-installation of the software is required, for instance, in a disaster scenario, the encryption key has to be provided before the data can be recovered.
The DS-Client GUI can be used to connect to multiple DS-Clients, for instance, in a ROBO (Remote office, Branch office) setup, where the administrator can have the GUI installed on his workstation and remotely manage the DS-Client. By default, only the administrator and backup operators can access the DS-Client. In Linux and Mac machines, only the root user can access the DS-Client. Administrators can configure the DS-Client with different user and group roles and allow access to the DS-Client and multiple DS-User roles can be defined with the same authentication or different authentication.
Using the Software for Backup
SecurStore offers agentless data protection. What does that mean? Agents are small software programs that are installed on every machine to process the backup for that individual machine before transmitting to a central server. This is the norm. However, SecurStore, powered by Asigra, requires no such installation. The DS-Client protects all files and systems on all platforms remotely. The software needs to be installed only on one machine on the network and backup of data from all other machines using the SecurStore software becomes possible. Implementation upgrades are automatic and there is no downtime to account for or no server cycles being wasted for agent software operations. Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) are also automatic; and Continuous Data Protection (CDP), when enabled is fast and reliable.
Backup Sets and Backup of Data
The DS-Client Service is activated when the Windows/Linux/Mac machine is started. On activating the DS-Client interface (from a desktop icon or start menu or command line), the user is prompted with a Login box, which asks for the input of user id and password. This user id and password will be the same as the user id and password of the Windows or Linux or Mac system if Local account has been selected during installation. However, if the administrator wants to backup data from other machines in the domain, then the admin can logon using a domain backup operator account.
The active graphic user interface of the DS-Client appears as illustrated below:
The backup set wizard is kick started by default. New backup sets can be created or backup sets that have been created can be viewed, edited or deleted. They can also be cloned, activated, synchronized, suspended, converted or migrated. User rights and permissions with respect to specific data sets can be re-defined. The owner of the backup set can also be changed using the graphical user interface of the DS-Client.
The backup set definition wizard prompts the user select one of the options visible on the screen. Users can choose to backup the file system, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Permissions only, Email messages, Microsoft SharePoint Server or create VSS-aware backup set.
File System backup includes backup of the registry, system state, Bindery, NDS, security and other file system specific features. The SQL Server backup, the Microsoft Exchange server backup, Microsoft SharePoint Server backup performs item level backup of SharePoint. Email backup enables online message level backup with attachments. Permissions only backup set creates a backup of all the permission and directory files. VSS-aware backup set creates a backup of all databases on different servers in the ecosystem using VSS-writers.
After creating the backup sets, users can schedule backups and specify retention periods for different backup sets.
Backup Life Cycle Management (BLM) is a tool that comes with the DS-Client. However, this tool must be enabled by SecurStore for the specific account or for the DS-System. This tool allows users to specify how data will be managed and when data will be archived to a less expensive media automatically. The module also has options for copying, removing and destroying data. The BLM Archiver is also billed separately, using a different pricing scale than the online DS-System.
Since SecurStore is powered by Asigra, it comes with all the advantages offered by Asigra Cloud backup. Bandwidth optimization, storage optimization, block level incremental backup options, common file elimination, compression, continuous data protection, de-duplication, single instance storage in a single code base and unified platform are some of the features that can be expected as a norm. It follows that the speed of backup will be determined by the number of options that are selected and the technologies that are applied to the backup set before the backup can be completed.
The DS-Client, that is installed on the client machine, is a service program and intended to run in the background continuously. This is necessary to allow the backup system to perform unattended backups at all times. The “Schedule” menu option in the interface offers a number of permutations and combinations of schedules as illustrated in the screen below:
Continuous Data Protection (CDP) can be scheduled using this screen, if mission critical data is constantly generated in the enterprise. This feature is available both for files systems and mailboxes. The CDP, when activated, monitors all data changes and backs them up as a new version of the file or data and preserves them with Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) in view. Backup windows are no longer an issue for the IT administrator.
End-users can also specify different kinds of retention rules for different kinds of data and enforce the retention rule. They can perform validation on the data or perform BLM or start Scan shares using this screen.
Restoration of Data
The speed of data restoration and the type of data restoration possible from a backup is what determines the usefulness of the backup system. SecurStore offers several restoration options to its customers.
Bare Metal restore is an option that enables the enterprise restore data from the backup on to an entirely new computing environment. The hardware can be completely different from the original system from which the backup was made. This is extremely useful if the hardware is lost or damaged or data is corrupted in the original system; for instance, a physical server can be restored to a virtual server and vice versa.
Message Level Restore (MLR) is a restoration option that is available for Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes/Domino and Novell Groupwise. This option enables the user to restore individual or group mails without disrupting the functioning of the email server. The selective filtering feature saves time, money and resources of the enterprise as it allows selection and restoration of specific messages or mailboxes without having to restore the entire database.
Local Storage is an optional feature of the software, which enables the user to keep the last backup locally as well. In case of a restore, it can be done at LAN speed from the local storage. The Local Storage feature can use any storage media on the network, either directly attached or a network share.
The DS-Client interface also provides the user with options to order for restoration of data on to a tape or a disk drive. BLM restore requests can also be made using the interface.
The data can also be validated before restoration is initiated. An encryption key will be generated from user input and the validation key will be sent to the DS-System for validating the online data being restored. If an account validation key had been set, the account key will also have to be entered into the wizard for validation purposes.
Other Menu Options
The customerâ€™s need for security and compliance is well appreciated by SecurStore. The backup software is compliant with many industry regulations and ensures that data is protected off-site in an encrypted format. The privacy and integrity of the data is maintained at all times and only authorized individuals can have access to the data. Additionally, the different log that can be accessed from the Logs menu option in the graphical user interface of the DS-Client, provides the administrator with information on all activities and events and also facilitates an audit trail. The Grid menu gives a bird’s eye view of the grid status and grid log. The Tools menu gives access to LAN Storage discovery tools and LAN Storage resources that are unprotected.
A number of useful pre-defined or customized reports can be generated by the administrator, by accessing the Reports option of the menu. The reports include reports on data, databases, backup sets, users, permissions and even storage summaries. If none of the reports display data as required, the administrator can customize the report using the custom report tool that is available under the Report menu.
The Setup menu option allows the administrator configure the DS-Client; adjust bandwidth throttle, monitor events/activities, export to xml DS-Client configurations, Backup Schedules or Retention rules, set event filters, create password rotations or initialize the backup connection.
As a final service, SecurStore provides an elaborate context sensitive help to its users. The contents are extensive and fairly detailed and users can access the relevant help file by depressing F1-Key on the active component on the interface.
Additionally, the software comes with an extensive user manual and knowledge base articles of some of the most frequent questions for backup, restore and advanced functions of the software. If users are unable to understand the contents or would like to talk to a human, SecurStore provides telephonic contact with its support personnel 24 x 7 x 365 days. Email contact is also an option that is made available. All email queries are attended to within 24 hours of receipt of the query.
Finally, the website of the company contains a FAQ section that gives detailed explanations to commonly asked questions of the users.
SecurStore’s DS-Client installation process and the interface are very simple. End users with little or no knowledge of technology can easily follow the onscreen instruction of the different wizards and use the help files to appreciate and use the DS-Client interface. But, that is not all. It is the technology behind the interface that is fascinating.
The client base extends to all sectors including: financial services, retail, legal, manufacturing, media, health, engineering, oil & gas plus many others and shows the diverse fit this solution can be catered for.
The bespoke combination of having an agentless technology, multi-tier solution, 3D Hybrid Status, green data center, full support for all IT environments, 24/7 technical support and ISO 27001 certification provides a unique and niche global offering for cloud backup, which is unrivalled.
The power of Asigra is exploited to its fullest by SecurStore in ensuring that their clients have a wonderful experience while backing up into the cloud. It is definitely the cloud backup software that one will not hesitate to recommend to anyone.
© November 2010 BackupReview.info
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