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A2 Tech Preview
It has been a while since we first announced our upcoming virtual appliance for Alike (A2). Although there’s been a bit of radio silence on the topic lately, fear not– we’ve been busily working on it behind the scenes. So as we near the finish line we would like to provide a bit of a tech preview to highlight some of the A2’s features and changes.
It’s an appliance. Of course that’s pretty obvious, but it’s worth briefly going over it’s basic design, and why that’s beneficial. The A2 appliance is based on a Linux OS, and has been tested to run on XenServer/XCP-ng, Hyper-V, KVM, and on physical hardware. The same image functions on all of these platforms. This means that while the underlying hardware (virtual or physical) may be different, the OS and software environment will be predictable and dedicated to the Alike solution. No longer can the presence of third party software, antivirus, group policy settings, or Windows updates interfere with the Alike software. This sort of “clean room” setup goes a long way to minimizing, if not eliminating many of the most common technical support engagements.
Simple to setup
Installing the A2 is a snap. Just boot a VM or physical machine from our installer ISO, and in minutes that system will be transformed into your A2 system, ready to go. Updating to new software versions is as simple as a button press.
Hello Virtual Restores
One of the major innovations with the A2 is the “virtual restore share”. This new feature is the cornerstone to how the A2 provides access to recover your systems and data. Every time a backup is completed, it will be instantly available in the virtual restore share.
\\<a2 host>\Restore\<site#>\Your_VM\<backup version>\
Inside each folder can be found the following virtual files:
*Raw disk image
*VHD of each disk image
*VHDx of each disk image
*Folder containing files for each drive/partition (FLR)
Because this system is instant, automatic, and persistant, it makes quick file recovery a snap. No longer do you need to run a FLR job for temporary access to your backup data. You can now easily integrate your backups with custom scripts, or any other tooling you like.
Completely redesigned datastore
Alike’s old datastore (ADS) contained many files and databases which were required to take backups, perform replication, or recovery tasks. It’s design goals were for extreme deduplication, performance and data integrity. However, simplicity and ease of management were not part of the design. Add into the mix Offsite Vaulting, and you could get some fairly confusing behavior and requirements to learn and manage.
With the A2, we’ve complete redesigned the back end (along with pretty much everything else). So now, the “ADS” will basically look like a single file, growing as needed to store your data. Furthermore, we’ve eliminated all the “local databases” from the Alike design, making the A2 appliance more or less disposable– all the data and configuration is stored in your ADS, at all times.
This gives a distinct advantage for manageability, portability and point in time integrity. Need to move your backup storage? Just move the single file, and plug it into your A2. Want to backup your entire system to tape? Just archive the single data file. Need to recover everything and all you have is your ADS “file”? No problem, just point an A2 image at it and start restoring in minutes, or less (from the virtual folder).
Faster and simpler
Thanks to the new architecture, all backups have gotten faster with the A2. We’ve eliminated the old “2 phase” approach of data acquisition and commit, and replaced it with a single streamlined phase. This single phase is not only quite a bit faster, it also significantly reduces the disk, and network I/O for your jobs.
Simple to manage and use
As with every version of Alike, we’ve tried our best to make it easy to use and configure. Setting up your A2 takes only a few minutes. Managing it can be done from any device with a browser. Of course, if you prefer the command line, you can ssh in as well 😉 With the A2, your backups and DR will be faster and easier than ever.
Some quick highlights
- Deployable as a VM or on Physical hardware
- Expanded Storage Support
- Improved logging troubleshooting
- Built-in diagnostic tools
- Settings export/import
- Encrypted remote proxy access
- Optional cloud-base monitoring and alerts