Feature

Replication revisited

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Once an expensive option, replication is now available in many forms and is more affordable and effective than ever.

The success -- and adoption -- of replication technology can be largely attributed to advances in local-area, wide-area and storage-area networking, as well as server virtualization and cloud computing. From replicating virtual machine (VM) images for data protection and high availability to the exchange of information with cloud services, replication has proved to be the most suitable and agile data transfer and protection method in increasingly virtualized IT environments.

But it's not just coincidental progress that has elevated replication's role in data management. It's as much, and perhaps more, due to changes in business requirements.

For example, downtime tolerance has been shrinking. A 2010 data protection research survey conducted by Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) revealed that 18% of respondents can't accept downtime for tier 1 applications, up from 8% only three years ago. Disaster recovery (DR), a prime user of replication, is becoming a basic requirement, and the same ESG survey identified it as the No. 1 area of investment. Compliance obligations of public companies and certain industries drive the use of replication to ensure accessibility and recoverability of critical data. Globalization, and the resulting need for firms to operate globally with satellite offices

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dispersed throughout the world, is also spurring replication-based data protection.

Another indicator of the increasing relevance of replication is the diversity and multiplicity in which it has found its way into products: as an array feature, backup application option, business application capability, network appliance add-on and even as a virtualization product option. Able to run in arrays; in the network; on hosts or within applications; asynchronously or synchronously; and at a block, file or sub-file level, replication products and choices are plentiful, maybe even overwhelming at first. But replication offerings can be grouped into categories that offer varying benefits and value propositions for different use cases and environments.

This was first published in February 2011

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