Progress Software debuts disaster recovery services

A business unit of Progress Software Corp. announced a new set of online disaster recovery services on Monday to be offered to customers as part of a managed services program, dubbed ASPen.

The Progress Company subsidiary will make available in January its OpenEdge Data Backup, OpenEdge Environmental Backup, and OpenEdge Hot Standby offerings, said Chris Clabaugh, vice-president of ASPen Managed Services for the subsidiary of Bedford, Mass.-based Progress Software.

The Progress Company will use its ASPen program to help its independent software vendor (ISV) partners to deliver Progress' platform and specific vertically oriented applications built by the ISVs to be distributed via the application service provider (ASP) model.

Clabaugh said Progress Company's disaster recovery services are to be offered as a "hybrid hosting" model, meaning Progress will host the service remotely and maintain an accurate copy of images, but the customer maintains control.

The OpenEdge Data Backup service features fully automated backup for data files and after image files, available for on-site restoration. OpenEdge Environment Backup expands that offering to include database, application and user-configurable environments.

Lastly, OpenEdge Hot Standby offers a fully replicated system that can go "live" as the primary system should an on-site system failure occur.

Almost immediately following the IT losses caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the last quarter of 2001 has seen a spike in the interest and implementation of disaster recovery plans and products, said industry observers.

ASPen customer Software Plus, a human resource and payroll solution provider based in Durham, N.C., said that a close call to one of its clients involving the terrorist attacks in New York shifted attention toward a host of "what if" scenarios it could not afford to ignore.

"One of our customers had a building on 14th Street in New York and, on September 11, through our service, they were able to log on to the systems and get their payroll out on time," said Michael Mark, CEO of Software Plus. "We began to really look into our disaster recovery offering. Since then, all of our customers as well as prospects have requested and expected a disaster recovery plan."

Mark said that as an ASP, his company is contractually bound to provide uninterrupted service uptime for customers. To accomplish that, Mark said contingency plans including disaster recovery are a vital part of drawing up and honoring a service level agreement (SLA).

Although conceding that many vendors are apt to take advantage of disaster recovery's swelling market share, Lew Hollerbach, an analyst for Boston-based Aberdeen Group Inc., says integrating the necessary technology requirements with business continuance considerations will separate the winners from the have-nots.

"After Sept. 11, everyone has a heightened awareness of having some type of disaster recovery plan (but) that is not something so trivial anybody can do it," said Hollerbach. "It's not enough just to hand over storage and data. The level of service you are providing can really help the company continue the business."

Hollerbach said disaster recovery services such as Progress' are particularly effective for users because they are customized to users' environments, in this case the Progress platform, creating a very accurate mirror of a customer's system.

"Progress understands its platform better than anybody. It's like a hand and glove situation. It's easy (for a vendor) to provide a recovery service, a new sever, OS, middleware layers, but to replicate to minute detail, that's harder and Progress does that," Hollerbach said.

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