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Expanding technology choices
It's easy to become disheartened when you consider the myriad challenges associated with building an effective DR strategy. But there's some good news: The number of available DR technology options is expanding while costs, though still not inconsiderable, are coming within the financial reach of more organizations. Rather than having to depend solely on backup tapes--and their associated multiday RTOs/RPOs--for DR, a variety of alternatives for budget-constrained companies are now available.

Replication services, for example, can be implemented at the application, database, host, network and storage array levels in ways that should address almost any combination of requirements and budget. For an environment with only a small number of critical applications requiring a short RTO, a host-based tool may do the job; in addition, many environments are successfully replicating databases using the log-shipping facilities native to many databases. Options like these are often overlooked in our storage-centric view. For environments needing to provide recovery services across a broader range of platforms and applications, storage-level replication services make sense; we're now seeing more robust replication, mirroring and snapshotting options offered for midrange arrays.

CDP technologies are also beginning to make their way into environments seeking to improve DR processes. Often introduced to protect a specific application

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or database, such as Exchange or Oracle, these tools can provide significant benefits especially with regard to ease of recovery.

The challenge is to not put the cart before the horse. Be aware that tool selection is the easiest (and--be honest--the most fun) part of the DR process, so there's a temptation to jump to this phase first. That would be a serious mistake. Without performing the heavy lifting first--the business-impact analysis and planning--the likelihood of overspending or coming up with an incomplete solution is highly probable.

This was first published in January 2007

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