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In Chris Poelker’s latest Computerworld blog, he outlines five simple steps that will make a major impact when improving your company’s bottom line by just evaluating your IT infrastructure. Chris’s post explains why deduplicating data backups, fixing networks and WAN bandwidths, optimizing servers with virtualization, and controlling business continuity and disaster recovery are so important to IT environments.

Step 1: Dedupe your backup environment. Backup is the biggest headache facing most organizations. Make sure the solution you choose integrates with any existing tape backup environment and enables you to automate tape for long-term archives AFTER data is replicated offsite.
Step 2: Fix your network. Invest in solutions that replicate data with maximum efficiency for DR and enable server-less, LAN-free backups to remove backup traffic from the network.
Step 3: Optimize servers and applications. Virtualization can put an organization ahead of its peers in terms of cost reduction and consolidation.
Step 4: Virtualize your storage area network (SAN). Storage virtualization with fabric- or appliance-based intelligence makes disk a commodity and enables IT departments to keep vendors honest and costs low.
Step 5: Get your business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) under control. On-demand physical-to-virtual conversion and automated virtual-to-virtual recovery of application servers reduces downtime and streamlines the recovery process.

To get the full story, check out Chris’s post 5 Steps for Evaluating Your IT Infrastructure on the Computerworld website.
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Recently, VP of Enterprise Solutions Chris Poelker authored a blog post for Computerworld on optimizing IT in 2013. He states that CIOs must “embrace change to drive operational efficiencies and adopt proven technologies” and in turn these changes will reduce costs. Chris challenges CIOs to act now and begin creating strategies based on what their businesses need. The post features a great checklist of the following questions that IT managers should be asking themselves as they prepare their enterprises’ environments for 2013:

1. Does the solution simplify or automate operations?
2. Can we leverage the solution across platforms and applications?
3. Does the solution take advantage of existing assets?
4. Can the solution enhance existing policies and procedures?
5. Can we procure the solution based strictly on the savings it provides?

These questions will help IT managers first perform an internal assessment to analyze costs and find areas where to make improvements. Once the assessment is completed and all IT assets are audited, the IT management team can evaluate where the investment in new technologies or changes in operational practices can be made to further streamline processes or reduce costs. To read more from Chris about strategic optimization of IT environments, check out the full Computerworld blog post.
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It was an exciting time for FalconStor at this year’s VMware Partner Exchange (PEX), as the show coincided with the release of the next edition of our RecoverTrac disaster recovery automation tool, which won Best of VMworld 2012 in the Business Continuity and Data Protection category last fall. Our booth at PEX was manned by a mix of the FalconStor sales and marketing teams headed up by our Channel Chief and VP of Sales and Marketing Gary Quinn. During the show, FalconStor was busy talking with partners about our data protection, storage virtualization, and deduplication technologies and how they interact with one of the key VMware topics: the virtualized data center. Many of the partners that stopped by our booth were very interested in how they could use our solutions (especially RecoverTrac technology) to provide disaster recovery services to their customer base.

The overwhelming response from visitors to our booth who stayed for a product demonstration was how quick and easy it is to test a recovery scenario and how much RecoverTrac technology knows about the production and disaster recovery environments. Partners also liked that the RecoverTrac tool can protect a physical machine and then recover it to a VMware environment. Many attendees asked how much a RecoverTrac license would cost them and were pleasantly surprised to find out that it is a standard feature, included with the purchase of FalconStor Continuous Data Protector and FalconStor Network Storage Server.

In addition to meeting new partners, FalconStor also had the opportunity to connect with VMware to discuss more ways we can work together. Stay tuned as FalconStor continues to gain momentum and redefine data protection, again!
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In the software industry, training and education are not options – they are vital necessities. Not only do we need to keep our employees on or at the cutting edge of technology, we need to make sure our partners and customers obtain the knowledge they need to successfully implement and operate our solutions.

FalconStor views its education program as an investment in its people. Giving employees and partners the tools and skills for success leads to successful deployments and operations, expert service, superior tech support and, ultimately, happy customers. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

I spoke with Jay Goldstein, the Director of Education, Training and Knowledge Management at FalconStor, to get the inside scoop on FalconStor’s learning portal, FalconStor University.

Katie - Why do you feel that education is so important?

Jay - Providing our audience with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully perform their respective roles is our primary goal at FalconStor University. Our partners need to be able to consistently and accurately sell, manage and implement our solutions and our customers need to be able to manage and use our solutions to resolve their backup and recovery challenges. Our employees need more than just product knowledge; they need both formal and informal education and training programs to improve their skills and knowledge to be successful.

Katie - What kind of education does FalconStor offer?

Jay - FalconStor University provides everything from self-paced online courses to hands-on, instructor-led classroom courses in the areas of sales and technical training for our product suite. We also provide a variety of informal webcasts and product videos to address “just-in-time” knowledge transfer to our partners. For our employees, we offer the FalconStor Education Center which provides employees across the globe with 24/7 access to over 2,400 online courses in business and IT skills and desktop application courseware to supplement their job skills and advance their professional development.

Katie - Can you tell me more about the processes and work that goes into creating these training and educational materials?

Jay - Our global training objective is to provide effective, engaging, interactive content based on the needs of each targeted audience. Over the past nine months, we have overhauled our global registration process and revised our instructor, evaluation, project scoping, project management and quality assurance procedures. A new curriculum development process was put in place last year to help us develop and deliver a higher quality of instruction. We are in the process of restructuring our current e-learning and classroom offerings into “blended-learning” solutions to best meet the needs of our audience. This combination of pre-requisite, self-paced e-learning followed by instructor-led workshops to apply and expand on the concepts introduced in the e-learning portion of the course will ensure the best learning experience for our partners, customers and employees.

In 2012, we rebuilt our training lab infrastructure for improved course delivery. These upgrades will enable us to employ virtual, instructor-led training in the near future to further leverage our resources and equipment globally.

To improve partner enablement, we recently launched our PartnerChoice Certification Program to provide role-based sales and technical certifications to our partner community. Certification levels are designed to increase their capabilities to sell, implement and support FalconStor solutions around the globe. We introduced this program in 2012 and will be adding new training certification programs throughout this year and beyond.

Katie - It sounds like you and your team have been very busy! What’s the feedback from those who use your training materials?

Jay - We perform regular surveys of our offerings and have found that, in almost all cases, learner knowledge is significantly increased after participation in our online and instructor-led offerings. We are constantly striving to improve our processes and the quality of our courseware.

Thank you, Jay, for the informative and thorough answers to my questions!

I can say from experience that the learning courses I’ve taken here at FalconStor have been excellent, and they just keep getting better. I joined FalconStor in 2010 as a recent college graduate with a marketing degree and zero knowledge of data protection or disaster recovery (“What does a server do? What’s remote replication? Is ‘deduplication’ even a real word!?”). Over the years, I’ve taken my share of FalconStor product training courses, and I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time. Furthermore, I’ve been able to apply that knowledge in every area of my online marketing role here at FalconStor. I would recommend our learning materials to everyone.

If you’re a customer or partner who’s ready to dive into FalconStor’s fountain of knowledge, you can visit the Customer Portal or PartnerPlace Portal to get started.
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Our recent disaster recovery survey with IDG Research shows that optimizing DR practices is at the forefront of customers’ minds. A whopping 83% of organizations say they are shifting gears on backup and recovery practices. Companies know that time is money and they can’t afford to lose continuous access to their data for any period of time– or worse yet, to permanently lose that valuable data. The pressure is on for IT professionals to keep vital data available and that means moving their disaster recovery systems into the future of automation and replication

You can see from the above infographic based on our DR survey results that the importance of disaster recovery automation is not lost on IT professionals. The risk and implications of data loss are driving a move from inadequate recovery methods to fully automated disaster recovery technologies that can provide complete data availability and business continuity. 

This sentiment seems to be echoed in our recent customer success stories. IT managers and executives are investing in our reliable, automated technology to ensure their data is protected and always accessible. I’ve hand-picked three of my favorite success stories below that illustrate why and how companies are making the move to more sophisticated data protection and disaster recovery systems.

Republic Steel
What I really like about this case study is that even though the customer chose a FalconStor solution to solve an immediate challenge, they are able to use this same technology to achieve more advanced disaster recovery objectives in the future. Republic Steel needed to migrate to a new SAN to handle its growing data needs. They chose FalconStor NSS not only for its ability to smoothly and quickly perform the migration, but because it had the functionality and flexibility to allow them to prepare for future DR endeavors. FalconStor NSS includes FalconStor RecoverTrac technology, a powerful disaster recovery automation tool, which will make ensuring business continuity a cinch.

Greater London Authority
GLA realized that with increasing amounts of data, storage was getting tight and its tape backup system was becoming inadequate for disaster recovery. Knowing that its storage problem was only going to get worse with upcoming high-profile events such as the mayoral election, the Royal Jubilee celebrations, and the 2012 Olympic Games, Greater London Authority determined it was about time to upgrade its systems. It chose FalconStor NSS to virtualize its storage environment and replicate data offsite. RecoverTrac technology within FalconStor NSS automates DR processes and cuts recovery time of the entire IT environment down from three days to four hours. Better yet, GLA saved nearly £90,000 compared to other vendors’ systems and IT managers expect a full ROI within four years.

Korea Yakult
Last but not least, one of our newest case studies features a health-food manufacturer that likes to “stay ahead of the curve” when it comes to IT technology. Korea Yaklut’s original DR system left much to be desired with a data center and backup center located in the same building. Feeling exposed to the risk of fire, leaks, or worse, IT managers decided to implement FalconStor CDP for its reliable disk-based remote backup capabilities. Now that Korea Yakult has achieved its goal of remote backup, it plans to automate disaster recovery using the RecoverTrac technology available in their FalconStor CDP solution.

Want to see more case studies? Take a look at our customer success stories page and browse by our product or industry menus.
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Mark Twain once said that “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” That statement would certainly apply today to tape technology. A leading analyst firm1 recently confirmed that, in spite of the increased acceptance of a disk-to-disk approach to data protection, disk-to-disk-to-tape backup will continue to be the major strategy for enterprises that are seeking to balance speed and cost. They found that IT leaders prefer tape as their long-term data storage solution, because of its low long-term total cost of ownership. They noted that, since the majority of data centers require both disk and tape for tiered backup and archive/compliance needs, this calls for an approach that bridges physical and virtual tape operations through integrated tape-management capabilities that include deduplication.

I could not agree more. To meet these needs, a virtual tape library (VTL) deduplication solution such as those offered by FalconStor will integrate with existing backup and tape infrastructures to streamline operations, prevent isolated silos of backup and avoid unnecessary overhead. Let’s take a look at specific ways FalconStor solutions take that a step further to support an integrated approach to managing both disk and tape: automated tape caching, tape consolidation, multi-tape export and tape library support.

Automated tape caching
What is “automated tape caching”? Well, basically, it is a disk cache for the physical tape library. That means it provides transparent access to data regardless of its location. When you have automated tape caching, tapes appear to be inside virtual libraries and are visible to the backup application. The backup application maintains direct access to data so existing processes are not disturbed. It works by using a tape caching policy that contains data migration policies that determine when export, deduplication, and deletion from disk occurs. Tape caching policies are flexible and can be defined to automatically trigger migration to physical tapes immediately or at a specific time or day. Data is written to physical tape transparently in the background by the VTL, without impacting production backup servers.

Tape stacking and consolidation
This refers to stacking smaller tape formats onto newer larger tape formats. The primary benefit of this ability is to enable a customer to get rid of the tape drive hardware required to read the older format tapes. The smaller physical tapes are imported into virtual tapes of the same type, allowing the physical hardware to be eliminated. The smaller virtual tapes can be stacked onto larger physical tapes for archive purposes. When the data is required, the VTL emulates the original smaller tape format and drives, but the data is actually retrieved from the physical tape.

Multi-tape export
We have seen that organizations often need to create multiple copies of physical tapes because of service level agreements (SLAs) and regulatory requirements. FalconStor VTL provides multi-tape export, which creates multiple copies of physical tapes. This increases IT productivity by eliminating the need for manual tape duplication or scripting.

FalconStor VTL can create up to five physical copies of virtual tapes as part of automated tape caching or an auto-archive policy; or it can occur during manual export of a single tape. When data is exported, separate export jobs are created for each physical tape copy, and each job is assigned a unique job ID so that it can be tracked, monitored and recovered.

Automated tape library support
Emulating tape libraries is important because it avoids expensive, hazardous rework of existing backup policies and procedures. Fortunately, FalconStor VTL emulates over 50 popular tape libraries and 30 tape drive formats, ensuring transparent integration into existing backup environments without the need to reconfigure backup jobs and making it possible to import data from physical tapes and export data from virtual tapes to physical tapes. For enterprise environments, this includes support for STK/SUN/Oracle ACSLS Library Station-managed tape libraries as well as IBM 3494 tape libraries and IBM 3590 tape drives.

As an integration example, a physical tape library can be Fibre Channel zoned to a FalconStor VTL system so that data can be imported from tape to disk, or exported from disk to tape. For disaster recovery (DR), deduplicated tapes that have been replicated can be exported, making data directly accessible from the physical tape if needed. The backup software product can use its own “tape copy” function to create physical tape from the virtual tape library, or the auto-archive feature of the VTL can automatically export modified data to physical tape.

In summary, tape is definitely not dead and continues to have an important role in a sound data protection architecture both now and in the future. It is vital to look for technology such as FalconStor’s that supports an integrated approach to managing both disk and tape. Automated tape caching, tape consolidation, multi-tape export and automated tape library support are key, specific examples of that support.

 [1] Gartner, Dave Russell “Organizations Leverage Hybrid Backup and Recovery to Take Advantage of Speed and Low Cost”  22 August 2012
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Long Island Business News recognizes outstanding members of the Long Island business community who are under the age of 40 in its annual “Top 40 Under 40” Awards. The program celebrates local business leaders who have demonstrated career success, mentored and promoted their profession, and given back to their communities. It is truly my pleasure to announce that our very own CFO, Louis Petrucelly, has been selected for this honor in the award’s 15th anniversary year.

When I heard Lou was being recognized in LIBN’s “Top 40 Under 40” Awards, my first thought was that it couldn’t be going to a more deserving person. Lou is incredibly hardworking and completely dedicated to FalconStor’s success. When I think back to a sales management course that I took in college, there is one lesson I’ll never forget. My professor said if you want to be a good leader, you have to gain the respect of those you work with, and in order to earn that respect in business, you should never ask colleagues or staff to do something that you wouldn’t be ready and willing to do yourself. My professor was an ex-Marine so in keeping with that theme, Lou is the kind of guy you would follow into the trenches. He spurs his team on because they know he’s putting in the long hours and taking on the arduous work alongside them.

Now, I don’t want you to get the idea that Lou is all work and no play. Anyone who knows Lou would agree he’s the first person to crack a joke or offer a funny comment. I can recall many instances where he had meeting rooms full of people rolling with laughter while he recanted a hilarious personal story. It’s Lou’s ability to balance his work ethic and commitment with his hearty sense of humor that makes it such an enjoyable experience to work with him.

Big congratulations to Lou on his “Top 40 Under 40” recognition! We are all very proud and excited for him here at FalconStor.
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Earlier this year, IDG Research Services and FalconStor Software conducted an InfoWorld QuickPulse survey on disaster recovery trends. Among the 189 IT managers and executives who participated, the survey found that 42 percent are still not adequately armed with modern disaster recovery solutions, even though they experienced at least one instance of data loss in the past year.

The majority of those surveyed continue to rely on ineffective manual processes and tape backup systems, which is not surprising given how entrenched legacy backup systems are after more than 20 years of deployment. The good news, however, is that most respondents are aware of the need for change. There is general agreement that business must move toward more efficient, reliable automated disaster recovery systems.

With the increased adoption of virtualization and the extraordinary amount of time required for tape backup, companies are turning to disk-based solutions and moving tape to the role of longer term storage. Hurricane Sandy, which devastated IT operations in the Northeast United States this fall, was a major wake-up call. The superstorm demonstrated the urgent requirement for DR plans that can restore both data and IT services quickly to curb the cost of downtime even in the most extreme circumstances.

Data protection and disaster recovery technology is an insurance policy for today’s data centers, which must operate 24/7 to meet the high demand on IT services. To date, due to reduced budgets and the conventional perception of disaster recovery as a high-maintenance process that nobody has enough time for, IT has not quickly adopted new solutions. With greater education by forward-looking industry experts, IT managers and executives are becoming more aware of the need for data protection modernization. Change is on the horizon, and I predict we’ll see more success stories than cautionary tales as more evolved DR systems are implemented in 2013.
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“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill
FalconStor has long participated in running an annual food drive during the holiday season and this year is no exception. We’ve teamed up yet again with Island Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island, to collect non-perishable food products and personal care items for local families in need. This year, our collection efforts hold even more significance as we donate not only for the holiday season, but for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

It’s a difficult time of year for those who were severely affected by the hurricane. I can’t even imagine what it would be like having all of my personal possessions destroyed in an instant. Many families have to start all over again after losing their homes, cars, clothing, and other items in the wake of the storm. It’s all the more devastating that victims have to endure this during the holidays, a time that should be reserved for joy and celebration.

Despite the hardships brought on by Sandy, the holiday season brings profound feelings of hope and perseverance. Our community is working hard to rebuild itself and to get back to its usual, everyday happenings. At FalconStor, we’re big believers in giving back to the community that we live and work in. We’re honored to partner with Island Harvest on this food drive and eager to lend our neighbors a hand, helping to bring a little normalcy back into their lives.

What’s really awesome about working with Island Harvest is that the organization takes an incredibly hands-on approach to assisting those in need. After the hurricane, its volunteers jumped into emergency response mode, working around the clock to help Long Island victims. They distributed tens of thousands of meals, water, and nonperishable food items to the hardest hit regions, utilizing distribution sites, shelters, and their own mobile food pantries. In the days following the storm, volunteers even hit the streets, going door to door to deliver essential food and supplies to the needy.

We hope that our contributions will assist our neighbors in need and aid Island Harvest in its quest to end hunger in our community during this exceptionally trying time. I’d like to give big thanks to all of the FalconStor employees who have already participated in the drive. Your donations are much appreciated and go directly to our neighbors in need. And I’d like to mention that employees can continue to give now and throughout the holiday season.

For more information on Island Harvest and how you can help, please visit their website or call (516) 294-8528 or (631) 873-4775.
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I’m proud to announce that the FalconStor® Network Storage Server (NSS) storage virtualization solution, was recently recognized as a silver medal winner in Penton Media’s Windows IT Pro “2012 Editors’ Best Awards” in the Best Hardware: Appliance category. Leveraging the industry expertise of its editors and authors, Windows IT Pro chose to honor FalconStor NSS and other great products that exist in the market today, proudly sharing this information with their Windows IT Pro and SQL Server Pro communities.

Ralph Wynn, FalconStor’s Sr. Product Marketing Manager, had this to say about the win:
IT outages and downtime are unacceptable. Companies need reliable data protection and disaster recovery systems in place that will ensure operations continue normally even in the event of a hardware failure or natural disaster. The FalconStor NSS VS Series Appliance with RecoverTrac technology makes downtime a thing of the past, and the 2012 Editors’ Best Award demonstrates its strategic importance.

FalconStor NSS is a scalable, highly available solution that enables storage virtualization, data migration, and data protection in heterogeneous environments. The solution’s ability to provide rapid automated disaster recovery allows you to restore Any Service, Any Time, Any Place – addressing your most demanding disaster recovery and business continuity needs. It’s no wonder FalconStor NSS is an award-winning product!

For more information on how FalconStor NSS provides complete data protection against disasters, check out one of our recent case studies. This 2-page success story details how one customer uses FalconStor NSS to cost-effectively reduce downtime and recovery time objectives.

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