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Data replication for DR
The use of remote data replication for DR isn't new, but it has taken off in large part to the increased role of server virtualization. It was more than a decade ago when storage firms began offering capabilities in their storage arrays to copy or replicate data to a remote storage system, but that ability often relied on having identical server and storage hardware at both locations.

Today's server virtualization technology, which allows the same images to run on different server types at each location, is simplifying replication for DR and lowering its cost. The "game changer" for replication in 2009, according to Stephen Foskett, director of data practice at Mountain View, CA-based consultancy Contoural Inc., is the combination of widespread server virtualization and virtual storage technology "and, most importantly, universal APIs and management systems to stitch the two together. VMware's SRM [Site Recovery Manager] is a good example of the kind of end-to-end technology that will finally allow storage replication to become a standard component of the data center," he says.

Foskett predicts new products will make it easier for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to replicate data to DR sites, and for enterprises to move data generated from remote offices to their main data center. In 2009, the bottom line is that replication for

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DR will become more affordable. According to Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group in Stillwater, MN, replication technology will no longer be for the "rich and famous," and will become more prevalent in organizations of all sizes.

Deduplication: This was a slam dunk, kind of like one of those easy electives you take in college to boost your GPA. Deduplication was all the rage this year for good reason: It's a proven technology that pays an immediate dividend. The products and technology are maturing, and users are often seeing the dedupe ratios that vendors promised.

eDiscovery: Everyone is talking about it, but not everyone is buying new tools or developing new strategies to deal with it. In part, we're waiting on storage managers to get used to new roles as managers of corporate information vs. managers of the systems that host that information. Outside of law firms, storage pros are just catching up to the painful realities of litigation holds and eDiscovery requests.

Green storage: We'd like to grade on a curve here. The fact that green storage is on our "not hot" list for 2009 is pretty good evidence that we didn't exactly ace this one. Then again, most storage pros couldn't avoid hearing a green pitch from a vendor--or being handed a corporate green initiative--this year. In that regard, our prediction was dead on. Is it our fault the vendor messaging is missing the mark? We didn't anticipate the wide divide between vendors and the IT pros being asked to open their wallets (not just their minds) to green data centers.

LTO-4: Adoption is increasing according to our surveys. But so far, there hasn't been a mad rush toward LTO-4, and LTO-3 is still more prevalent. LTO-4 is almost an inevitable upgrade when companies decide to refresh their tape technology and want to take advantage of advanced features such as encryption. We were too exuberant in 2008, but we'll take credit for endorsing the technology.

N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV): The jury is still out. VMware Inc. and Microsoft Corp. support NPIV, which lets virtual server guests see a dedicated partition of a host bus adapter in a Fibre Channel SAN. Citrix Systems Inc. is working with Emulex Corp. on supporting NPIV and Virtual Iron Software Inc. has certified with Emulex. Still, it's not exactly at the top of storage managers' priority lists.

This was first published in December 2008

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