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Best Practices: Sorting out remote-office backup

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Continuous data protection (CDP) is a complementary option to replication. CDP or near-CDP technology is available as SAN-based appliances, app-specific adjunct products, host-based snapshot managers and as backup apps. With CDP, data can be protected locally to a backup server transparently and then replicated.

Data reduction. A key to successfully deploying replication in remote locations is the ability to minimize the number of bytes transferred. Data reduction in the form of deduplication and compression is an essential enabling technology for remote data protection. This capability is necessary to keep disk-capacity requirements low and to make maximum use of bandwidth. Like CDP, this technology is incorporated into different types of hardware and software products.

Wide-area file services (WAFS). Wide-area optimization technologies, such as wide-area file systems, applications services and data services (WAFS, WAAS and WDS), leverage data reduction to further improve bandwidth efficiency. Typically implemented as appliances, these devices compress data and provide additional performance optimization functions such as caching and low-level protocol optimization. They're also increasingly app-aware and can dramatically improve I/O by streamlining chatty application-level protocols. Depending on the app mix and aggregate network activity, these devices can produce dramatic results and, in some situations, make it possible to eliminate

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remote servers entirely.

Specialized remote backup applications have evolved that integrate capabilities such as replication, CDP and data reduction, including products from traditional software vendors as well as alternative products and services.

Remote options
The challenge then is how to determine the right backup model. The fundamental choices include:

Option 1. Back up locally to tape (or to disk with offsite tape copy).

Option 2. Back up locally, then replicate the backup data offsite.

Option 3. Back up directly to a remote location with data transferred directly from the branch server to a data center (or third-party backup service provider).

This was first published in September 2007

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