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Pricing and Conclusion

SonicWALL touts the CDP product line as a solution to the problems with tape backups, and cites some interesting statistics in their product literature. Apparently, 30% of IT costs are associated with tape backups, of which 20% fail, while a surprising “40% of dedicated, full-time IT Managers can’t recover data from their tape backups.” SonicWALL’s CDP solution is designed to eliminate these costs and challenges.

The SonicWALL CDP 2440i is intended to be a seamless solution to data backup needs for small network administrators. It is a full hardware/software solution, comprised of three elements: the physical appliance, a software Agent for PCs and Servers, and the software Manager. This makes the 2440i a flexible and complete solution to network backups that not only saves key data, but provides offsite disaster recovery and full image restoral as well. If you were going to use the single-disk 1440i or 2440i, I'd recommend you budget in the cost of the offsite subscription.

Of note, the SonicWALL CDP runs on Debian Linux, yet supports only Windows clients and servers at this point. Presently, there aren't software versions for either the Mac or Linux. SonicWALL is working on a Linux client, targeting release for the fall of 2007. In addition, gigabit support is provided in the higher end 3440i and 4440i, but not the 1440i and 2440i.

SonicWALL has a pretty complete package here, but there is competition in the continuous data protection space. IBM has a continuous data protection software package called Tivoli, which offers the advantages of continuous data protection, and provides the options to send the backups to local disk and/or network storage devices such as a server or NAS.  There are also other vendors of CDP software products—check this Network Computing article for more info.

Seagate is the only company to have had a consumer-focused solution in their Mirra product. But the company recently discontinued Mirra, saying that they are rolling the technology into an upcoming product.

Like other SonicWALL products, there are both purchase and subscription costs with the CDP. The 2440i has a list purchase price of $2,999, plus annual subscription costs of $509 for software and firmware updates, increased to $629 or $1,172 if you want 8x5 or 24x7 support.

For 5GB offsite storage, the list on the annual subscription is $353. The Bare Metal Recovery feature will set you back $30/PC or $299/Server.

Data backup isn't cheap—these products are not really targeted at consumers and will stretch the budgets of many small businesses. But, as SonicWALL points out, tape backups have significant weaknesses. And while NASes are a common and easy means of network data protection, most allow for backups only at specific intervals. The beauty of continuous data protection is its dynamic capture of disk activity. 

I can think of numerous occasions when I created an important file, made changes, then goofed something up and lost hours of work. I wish I'd had the SonicWALL CDP 2440i on my network then; I would have been able to independently restore my work and save hours of re-work and frustration. I certainly enjoyed the security of having SonicWALL’s 2440i continuously saving my work as I wrote this review!

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