Lasso Logic offers real easy real-time backups

Lasso CDP brings low-impact, continuous protection to Windows workstations and servers

Backing up user workstations is a problem that has plagued IT organizations since computers landed on the desktop. Installing and operating desktop backup solutions has always been somewhat complicated and quirky. Even when desktop backup works well, it doesn’t provide full protection. You’re covered against major disasters, such as losing the computer to theft or crash, but not against minor disasters, such as accidentally deleting files or saving unwanted changes, which can erase several days of work.

Lasso Logic has created a line of disk-to-disk-to-off-site backup appliances that provide continuous data protection for Windows clients and servers without inconveniencing end-users or burdening administrators. I tested the Lasso CDP 1440i, an entry-level unit that provides 160GB of storage and supports as many as 15 clients and three servers. The top-of-the-line Lasso CDP 4440i provides 1.2TB of storage and supports up to 100 users. For all models, the standard compression ratio for backups is 4-to-1 and the data stored on the device is protected using 256-bit AES encryption.

The Lasso CDP couldn’t be easier to install. You simply plug the appliance into your network and run a quick install on each client and server that you want to back up. The appliance itself requires no configuration. On the client side, all you need to do is point the Lasso software to the target appliance and click the new policy button to start defining the folders you want included in the backup.

You can also specify folders to be sent off-site. Lasso’s off-site backup is performed in the same way as backups to the appliance: They are as close to instantaneous as they can be without having an impact on performance, and only the deltas are sent across the wire to minimize the bandwidth used.

The Lasso comes with a Web-based file-sharing capability that truly increases its usefulness. This requires no extra configuration or software. Users simply define a list of contacts in their policy, and these contacts are allowed to access shared files by connecting to the appliance via the Web.

On each host, Lasso’s adaptive backup engine tunes the frequency of backups to the availability of system resources. I tested the Lasso CDP 1440i against a medium-size file server -- about 35GB -- and a lightly loaded Exchange server; the solution performed admirably in both cases. Files were backed up to the appliance very quickly, and minor changes were replicated almost instantaneously, with virtually no impact on system performance. The CDP also performed well in my tests against a small SQL Server database. I generated a small workload ranging from 20 to 50 users to see how backups would affect performance. Although the database server did show a slight dip in transactions per second, the impact wasn’t significant enough for users to notice. The backups themselves became less frequent, as the Lasso software tried to minimize the impact on system performance.

In addition to Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, the Lasso can back up data for Active Directory and many Windows desktop applications. Outlook, Goldmine, QuickBooks, Peachtree, and Great Plains are just some of the desktop applications supported.

Data is as easy to recover as it is to back up. Just navigate to your folder inside the Lasso client and choose the version of the file you want to restore. Administrators can manage backups and recoveries remotely via a Web GUI.

The Lasso CDP has two shortcomings that Lasso Logic says will be addressed in the next release. First, reporting is limited to one report, and even it isn’t very useful. Second, help files aren’t included with the product but must be downloaded from the Lasso Logic Web site. Lasso Logic assures me that the next release will show great improvement in the help system and will sport a set of reports that will make even Sarbanes-Oxley auditors happy.

The Lasso CDP offers continuous data protection that is ripe for small to midsize environments. Its easy, intuitive user interface will make users feel at home right away, and the minimal impact of backups on systems and networks will please administrators.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Value (10.0%)
Performance (20.0%)
Management (25.0%)
Reliability (15.0%)
Setup (10.0%)
Ease of use (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
Lasso CDP 1440i v.1 8.0 8.0 7.0 9.0 9.0 8.0 8.0