REVIEWER: Dr. George Araya, director of educational technology and information services for Desert Sands Unified School District.

BACKGROUND: The Desert Sands Unified School District is one of California's most technically advanced public school districts. The 25- school district based in La Quinta, California, uses a Smithsonian-Laureate- Award-winning high-speed microwave metropolitan area network. It supports more than 24,000 students and enables students and teachers to spend more time learning and teaching than waiting for the computer.

PLATFORMS: We run the LiveBackup client software on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0 and 2000 PC systems. The LiveBackup server is running on Windows 2000 Server with an embedded Microsoft SQL 2000 database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We rely heavily upon the data that resides on our decentralized PCs. Without a policy in place to back up or protect client PC data, our mission-critical school information was significantly at risk. If any of this vital data was corrupted or lost due to user error or if it was impacted by a more devastating event (such as a lost or stolen computer, virus attack or natural disaster), the information would be unrecoverable. We were concerned about the risk that this posed to our district. Storactive LiveBackup enables us to protect this vital information by automatically and transparently replicating PC data to the server in real time. With this continuous backup solution in place, we are assured that any file can be easily restored at any time, saving us hundreds of dollars per PC, per year.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: LiveBackup transparently protects client PC data every time a user hits the save button. This automatic backup allows end users to work just as they always have ­ without IT training on procedures. Self-serve file recovery functionality brings users back to productivity quickly, without burdening IT. Comprehensive, centralized management tools allow administrators to remotely repair malfunctioning PCs via system rollback to a known good state ­ limiting the need for extensive troubleshooting and providing the ideal safety net for common disasters, including virus attacks. A convenient management console also lets administrators easily make software deployments, create bare-metal disaster recovery images and enforce consistent backup policies. The software leverages Microsoft .NET architecture to provide enterprise-class scalability and performance while employing redundancy elimination technology to minimize the impact on network performance.

STRENGTHS: Unlike traditional schedule-based backup software that only protects data within defined backup windows, LiveBackup protects PC data in real time and eliminates the risk of data loss between backup windows. By tracking changes to files as they occur, information is protected throughout its entire life cycle, and recovered data is always as recent as the last save. This solution even backs up hard-to- protect Outlook inboxes and protects laptops are while they are roaming.

WEAKNESSES: LiveBackup is focused only on protecting the client PC system, not the server. We would have liked to deploy a similar solution to offer real-time protection for our server data as well as our client data. Storactive is planning to release a solution for the real-time protection of some server applications by the end of the year.

SELECTION CRITERIA: LiveBackup was selected because it not only reliably protects our critical PC data, but does so without overwhelming network infrastructures, increasing help desk call volume and, most of all, without asking end users to do anything new.

DELIVERABLES: LiveBackup delivers assured data availability with a powerful return on investment. It gives us a solid defense against any type of data loss while minimizing or eliminating the costs for reconstructing lost user data or damage caused by viruses or hardware failures. It can even rebuild an entire system as it was moments ago, instead of days ago. Finally, LiveBackup lets our users easily restore their own data, freeing our IT and help desk staff for other projects.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Working with Storactive has been a very positive experience. Their technical support staff is world-class, knowledgeable and responsive.

DOCUMENTATION: LiveBackup provides complete, easy-to-use online documentation which is distributed electronically using Adobe's portable document format. The product is also shipped with three "Quick" reference cards and an easy-to-follow Quick Installation and Setup Guide.

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