Article

EMC overhauls Retrospect backup software for Mac

Beth Pariseau

EMC Corp. showed a renewed commitment to Apple Macintosh users this week with its release of Retrospect 8, adding features to the SMB backup application that had only been available on the Windows version.

The Mac version of the application that EMC bought with Dantz in 2004 has been more than a full version behind the Windows edition, and the product's development resources within

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EMC have been in flux. That led to questions about the future of Retrospect that were answered with this latest upgrade.

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At Macworld on Tuesday, EMC opened public beta tests on Retrospect 8, which will be released for the Mac first. Retrospect 8 integrates the Mac and Windows editions onto a single platform and adds long-awaited features on the Mac side, including multi-threading and disk-based backup.

Eric Ullman, director of product management for Retrospect, said the new "universal engine" will allow the software to run on both Windows and Mac computers. Windows and Mac backup servers can manage clients belonging to the other operating system.

Retrospect 8 makes the Mac edition multi-threaded, so up to eight simultaneous backup, restore or transfer operations can occur at once. The upgrade also adds disk-based backup and disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) options. Previously, Mac users could only copy entire volumes from one removable disk device to another. The new version supports networked storage, and can copy individual files according to schedules or policies.

"If you do backups to disk Monday through Friday, and only want to transfer Friday's version to disk, you can do that," Ullman said. For tape backups, Retrospect 8 can absorb a new piece of tape media into an existing library without having to re-scan all cartridges.

Users can now create customized reports on backup jobs and receive email notifications for the Mac edition.

Until Windows is brought into version 8 later this year, Mac users will even have some features missing from the Windows version, such as AES 256 encryption and support for Windows Hyper-V and VMware Fusion virtual servers on Mac hosts. VMware ESX support will follow for Windows, Ullman said.

Taneja Group analyst Eric Burgener said EMC's support for Mac-based backup servers is rare, and a sign of an increase of Mac users. "I don't think we've necessarily reached an inflection point with Mac in the enterprise quite yet," he said. "But [version 8] is clearly targeted at larger configurations."

The product is expected to become generally available by the end of February, and will be a free upgrade for users who purchased licenses after January 2008.

Behind the scenes at EMC Retrospect

This release should allay fears many users have had about Retrospect's future. Jason Ferenczy-Zumpano, practice administrator for Cornerstone Medical Care of Brandon and Sun City Center in Florida, has been using Retrospect 7.6 for Windows but "there was some concern" for him about EMC's commitment because of slow development of the Mac version. EMC said at last year's Macworld that it planned to develop a new version of Retrospect by this year, but the roadmap was vague. "To EMC's credit, they've now delivered on what they said they were going to deliver by 2009," Ferenczy-Zumpano said.

Retrospect general manager John Palmer said Retrospect got lost in the shuffle after EMC disbanded its Insignia SMB products division in January 2007, and wasn't considered strong enough on its own for rebuilding the SMB business.

"The question was whether Retrospect could develop organically into a $15 million business, or if more acquisitions were needed to add scale and credibility to the SMB business," Palmer said.

Retrospect received a boost last April when EMC acquired Iomega, giving it SMB and consumer brand recognition and channels. Retrospect engineers joined the new consumer division based on Iomega, and began work on version 8.

Palmer said development for the Mac version lagged because Windows is a bigger market, and was a priority for engineering resources. But Apple's stature in the enterprise has improved over the last two years, especially in multimedia editing and design, drawing EMC's attention as a growth opportunity.


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