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Host-based replication software has one key advantage: hardware independence. "We chose Neverfail [Group Ltd.] because it lets us use disparate hardware," says Todd Sons, director of information technology at Jackson Walker LLP, a law firm headquartered in Dallas. Neverfail for Microsoft Exchange replicates the law firm's Exchange data to a passive server and keeps the two servers synchronized. In the event the active Exchange server fails, Neverfail immediately fails over to the passive server. The cost was just $10,000 for two Neverfail licenses that Sons can run on any Windows-capable server.
Host-based replication like that provided by Neverfail not only replicates the data, but monitors Exchange and the physical server hardware, network and operating system. It will fail over automatically if it discovers a problem it can't fix. Jackson Walker's Sons, however, disabled the automatic failover.
"We're doing manual cut-over. I want to make the decision," he says. Because users generally work from the Exchange cache, most never realize when they fail over or switch back. Products from CA XOsoft, Double-Take Software, Mimosa Systems Inc. and SteelEye Technology Inc. provide similar high-availability capabilities.
This was first published in September 2006