It is really difficult to pinpoint one particular feature of the IBM Lotus Foundations Start server as the “killer app”. Lotus Foundations comes with so many handy, crucial SMB tools and each and every one of them is important. However, if I was forced to choose one feature I would probably have to choose backups.
You’re only as safe as your most recent, reliable backup. Without a proper backup, you could find yourself spending hours re-inputting data, recreating a spreadsheet, updating your address book, etc… We all know how important backups are, but it is often the last thing on our laundry list of business to dos. And, even if you did regularly take backups, what is the probability that the backup was a reliable one? How often do you really do test restores to make sure that what you backed up is actually intact?
What about disaster recovery? Have you planned for the worst case scenario? Sure, you’re performing backups, but are you making sure that recent backups are also being taken off-site to another location for disaster recovery purposes? If you are, how recent are those off-site backups?
Sure, you could use an online backup service for disaster recovery. However, that can become expensive as you amass more files and data. If you wanted to restore from an online backup, it will take as long as the download speed of your Internet connection. For gigabytes of data, a full restore could take hours or days.
The Lotus Foundations Start server appliance has integrated IBM’s Intelligent Disk Backup (IDB) technology into its backup toolbox. IDB allows you to perform incremental backups as often as 15 minutes. You can backup daily, weekly, or as often as you need to. If you are backing up frequently, IDB also makes “incremental” copies of recently modified files. So, if you modified a file an hour ago and the same file two hours ago, you are able to restore either file to your system with the click of a button. This is very useful if you realize that the file you saved an hour ago was somehow corrupted or you erased important information from it right before saving it.
In addition, the backups are encrypted. So, even if the backup drive were to fall into the wrong hands, the data is secure.
Finally, what happens if your main hard drive fails? Well, you just push a button and all of the server configuration and software is restored in minutes. No need to reinstall the operating system, re-configure your software, or re-assign rights to folders and printers. The IDB backs everything up, not just your data files.
What about disaster recovery? If you buy additional IDB drive cartridges with the server, you merely need to pull out one cartridge at the end of the day on Friday, plug in your other cartridge and take the first cartridge home with you so the data is off-site. The act of plugging in a new cartridge tells Lotus Foundations to start backing up the whole system from scratch automatically. No need to let the IDB know about the new cartridge. It is all taken care of automatically.
If the unthinkable happens, and your server at the office were to be lost in a calamity, you would only need to buy a new IBM server, plug in the cartridge that you took home with you, push a button and you’re right back where you started, since your last backup.
So, yes, IBM’s Intelligent Disk Backup technology that comes with the IBM Lotus Foundations Start server appliance is the bomb. Finally, no more tapes, no more carrying around an external USB drive from PC to PC, and no more worrying about disaster recovery. And best of all, no more shelling out monthly fees to continue making online backups. Let the IDB take care of the backups for you so you can just sit back, relax and focus on work.
I agree about the value of the IDB in the Lotus Foundations Server, however I think there needs to be a bit more.
You make the point that DR can be facilitated by taking an IDB cartridge off site, however that limits your Recover Point Objective to being the date you last took the cartridge offsite. This will be OK for some, but not others.
The simple addition of a cron job to rsync the contents of the IDB to a NAS drive somewhere on the network, or offsite if desired, adds an additional level of safety. The cron job could run daily, or even hourly !
AFAIK the replacement for NitixVault is not out yet, but that would be the proper addition.
I agree that taking an IDB cartridge off-site is not the perfect solution. However, if it is done weekly, in case of disaster, you’re never more than 1 week behind.
I’m not familiar with NitixVault so I should research that a bit more. Regarding using an rsync cron job, I think that this is a great idea. My only reservations are that a business would have to have a server or PC running continuously off-site in order for rsync to run successfully. This might work well for a larger small business with a branch office where the two locations are linked together via a VPN or another type of secure Internet connection. However, for smaller businesses with no branch office it may be overly complex to link the owner’s home via the Internet, configure the routers to allow for a connection via rsync, and then have a PC running 24 hours a day for the rsync to run regularly. It could become a bear to administer.
As you said, a weekly off-site disaster recovery backup would be good for some, but not everyone. However, for many businesses it would definitely be a good start to have any kind of disaster recovery backup at all and Lotus Foundations IDB gives them an easy way to do this with just the extra expense of one or more IDB drive cartridges.
Let’s face it, IBM Foundations is just killer but it must be the best kept secret out there. Once people find out about this I think it will be the end of Microsoft SBS.
I agree with Gareth, IBM are great at keeping things like this a secret while silly companies like Microsoft market their software to people! How crazy is that!!
I live in New Zealand where Foundations Start would cover 90% of the business. Add to that Linux desktops with Symphony and you have Mail, IM, Productivity apps, Shares, DNS, Security, Back up etc etc all covered at a fraction of the cost of an MS solution. So yes thank goodness IBM keep it a secret of everyon might want it!
We’re a large organisation by NZ standards so it wouldn’t suit us, but the fact we’re migrating from Lotus Notes to Exchange at great expense for little gain, shows where IBM is dropping the ball 🙁
IBM recently released Rescue Server for Foundations. This provides the ability to automate an offsite copy of your idb backup. It is configured just like any other backup.
Good point and thanks for your response. We were also aware of this new feature in the latest version of Lotus Foundations and should have added an update about this when it came out. It does an additional dimension to the Lotus Foundations portfolio so that customers can have the added comfort that backups are also available off-site automatically. Since restores can sometimes be very slow over the Internet for large files, it is win-win scenario to have both the IDB backup drive and the Rescue option running.