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FC CDP appliances
FC SAN-attached CDP appliances are a better fit than other CDP products if there are short recovery windows and high application data change rates. For example, FC SAN-attached CDP appliances:

  • Come in clustered configurations
  • Require FC-attached storage systems
  • Use agents to capture data at the block level
  • Present virtual LUNs or volumes as targets to hosts
  • Maintain database consistency
Many FC SAN-attached CDP products share these characteristics, but implementations vary. For instance, EMC Corp. has two RecoverPoint appliances: the RecoverPoint/SE CDP appliance that supports two servers in a cluster, and its RecoverPoint/CRR model that scales up to eight appliances in a cluster.

Stefan Knoerer, senior software and system architect at Siemens IT Solutions and Services in Munich, Germany, needed faster restores of a high-performance database. The Oracle database, consisting of more than 200 LUNs, resided on an EMC Symmetrix DMX-3. Each day, there were approximately 350GB worth of changes to the database, which ran at around 5,000 IOPS and used eight FC HBAs on each HP-UX server. Siemens was using EMC DMX-3's Business Continuance Volumes along with backup software for data

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protection, but it could still take up to 20 hours to restore a database when corruptions occurred.

To address this problem, Knoerer evaluated FC SAN-based CDP appliances, selecting EMC's Recover-Point CDP. After a proof of concept followed by a three-month trial, Knoerer implemented the CDP appliance in early 2007 and witnessed a big reduction in database recovery times. "RecoverPoint reduced our database recovery times to two to four hours, depending on database traffic," says Knoerer.

Although Siemens used EMC's PowerPath to split writes at the host level, EMC's RecoverPoint also takes advantage of new protocols in FC switches and FC director line cards that can split host writes at the fabric level. The EMC RecoverPoint CDP appliance logs on to a Brocade AP-7420B Multiprotocol Router FC switch or a Cisco Systems Inc. MDS 9000 family FC director with a Storage Services Module line card. EMC RecoverPoint requests that the service begin copying writes for a specific host's data stream, which is then sent to the RecoverPoint appliance over the FC connection.

Both of Symantec's backup programs--Backup Exec and Veritas NetBackup--offer CDP technologies that help users to minimize potential data loss by creating more frequent recovery points. Veritas NetBackup RealTime Protection (available in fall 2008) is a CDP offering designed for mission-critical data center applications with heavy workloads. It supports both Unix and Windows operating environments, and requires SAN-based storage.

Veritas NetBackup RealTime requires the latest version of NetBackup, Version 6.5.2, to unlock its full functionality. It's part of the Veritas NetBackup product line and uses NetBackup for policy creation and recovery processes. RealTime can also be deployed as a standalone product and is sold separately.

Backup Exec also offers continuous data protection technology (Backup Exec Continuous Protection Server) designed for Windows environments with moderate to light workloads, and has no specific storage requirements. Backup Exec's CDP capabilities are currently available.

This was first published in September 2008

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