Continuous data protection technology trends in storage


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CDP is just part of the process
CDP has great potential benefits, but it shouldn't be viewed as an isolated technology widget. Rather, CDP should be treated as a little piece of a much more profound process and business change. As such, storage managers should look at CDP in a holistic manner, using it as a springboard for addressing the following:

  • DATA CLASSIFICATION AND TRACKING. ESG has been monitoring data classification since 2003 and has seen little progress in this area. Why? Classifying massive amounts of data is too manually intensive and time-consuming for most shops. These limitations aren't going away, but other technologies like CDP may persuade weary IT managers to make the effort. Data classification and tracking will uncover the most exposed critical information and where it lives. Once this is accomplished, CDP benefits can be instantaneous.

  • HIGHLY AVAILABLE INFRASTRUCTURE. CDP will copy changing data frequently, but what if servers, storage or networks are unavailable? As a follow-up to data classification, IT managers must also assess infrastructure assets to uncover any single points of failure. Is critical data supported by multipathing RAID arrays and server clusters? Are remote data centers available over multiple network routes? These kinds of infrastructure assessments may seem obvious, but

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  • ESG finds that sometimes the most apparent items are also those most likely to be ignored.

  • APPLICATION-BASED RECOVERY PROCESSES. Storage risk-assessment specialists often point to a common problem with disaster recovery. While users tend to test their disaster recovery processes at the system level, they fail to test across a multitiered application environment. This can introduce problems when it comes to the timing and complex interrelationships inherent in restoring business applications and databases. Smart storage managers will use CDP as a blank sheet of paper to improve disaster recovery readiness. This can be accomplished by starting with the data and then working up to mapping application topologies. Finally, application-recovery processes should be fully tested to ensure that planning assumptions are correct.

  • ILM SECURITY. While CDP and storage tiering are clearly beneficial, they introduce some new risks because online storage is easier to break into than tapes collecting dust in an offsite vault. Make sure to support CDP and storage tiering with secure configurations, role-based administration, an appropriate number of access controls, as well as reporting and auditing.
Bottom line
CDP is by no means a panacea. It must be supported with the right process, and organizational and technological changes to reach its full potential. That said, the potential operational and capital benefits from a combination of CDP, ILM and disk-to-disk backup are impressive. Savvy storage managers will bring their vendors in to discuss their roadmaps for CDP and to work out an implementation strategy. Be sure to cast a wide net, because storage bigwigs and startups alike offer some impressive options for CDP.

This was first published in March 2006

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