Replication is the Hot

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-08-14 Print this article Print

New Continuity Topic"> Specifically, the experiences of terrorist attacks and blackout, have cast a new light on remote replication services, Gerr said. Previously if a vendor wanted to invest in remote replication, the choice was between the three top vendors: EMC Corp., Hitachi Ltd. or IBM. Each product only worked on its own infrastructure, and licenses were needed for the equipment on both sides of the intervening data lines. "Now, a combination of new technologies has cracked the golden castle of remote replication and made disaster recovery not the black art it used to be," Gerr said.
Companies like XOsoft Inc. and Topio Inc. provide software solutions that allow companies to mix and match virtually any software and hardware combination, he said, through the use of agents. Smaller businesses also have the option of going with solutions like NSI Software Inc.s DoubleTake.
Click here to read more about XOsoft and other companys tools to recover database files. In addition, some companies are choosing to backup their data at a second remote site thats geographically separate, said Mike Marchi, senior director of marketing, ILM, compliance, and data protection solutions at Network Appliance Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif. Marchi said that some backup facilities in New Jersey, the traditional location for New York firms to back up their data, were now being supplemented with tertiary sites in Minnesota or Arizona. However, synchronous mirroring of data is mostly cost-effective in a range of 60 miles or so, analysts said. "What I find interesting is that in Gartner surveys disaster recovery spending has not gone up," said Donna Scott, a vice-president with Gartner Inc.s research division in Stamford, Conn. "They say spending budgets have not gone up, but I know theyve gone up. Where theyve gone up is replicating data over distance. That snapshot, that environment, becomes part of the production budget. It doesnt get put into the [disaster recovery] budget." Typically, a smaller, mission-critical store of data is housed at the second site, the most critical applications needs to keep the business up and running. If the primary backup facility goes down, a business can hobble along on the data stored at the third site for a week or so, Marchi said, instead of all of the data becoming permanently lost. While he wouldnt provide exact figures for the number of companies pursuing this strategy, Marchi said that his companys duplication software has a 40 percent attach rate. According to an informal audience survey Gartners Scott conducted at a recent seminar, some 70 percent of the audience now outsourced this storage function, Scott said. More storage customers are taking information off-site and not just replicating it to near-line storage, Marchi said. "Most of the customers are doing it for the most important information, just for things that affect the business," he said. "We do a lot of that. With e-mail, Microsoft Exchange, its very important to have a third replica; a primary site for the near-line storage, and a second site for a set of directories." Other records stored on near-line storage include generic Word documents and even instant-messaging logs, he added. Some firms expand the planning for continuity beyond data replication to include an entire redundant infrastructure. This can be seen in the strategy of Paul Bell, manager of network architecture and engineering for a New York-based securities firm. The firm maintains a 500-seat facility in Queens, complete with equipment that is periodically powered on and tested in case of an emergency. After the Sept. 11 attack, he said, most of the company simply moved to the New York City borough and kept working. The Queens facility houses enough near-line storage to house the companys data, Bell said. Tape backups with snapshot and monthly archive data are physically taken to another facility a few hours away. The companys ongoing disaster recovery program is continuously updated, Bell said, and it is signed-off at levels even above the CIO and CISO position. "Senior trading management have to sign off on it," he said. "Their revenue stream depends on it, so these people have to be involved in the decision." Although some areas of the country have placed a lesser priority on data availability and disaster recovery, the heart of the U.S. financial services industry has been tested, twice, and survived, analysts suggest. However, a true disaster would be a nationwide incident that would take the rest of the countrys plans off the shelf, Gerr said. Check out eWEEK.coms Storage Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and business storage hardware and software.

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