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Writable clones
Any test requires accessing the replicated data, even if only to read or write to a few sample database fields. That access can interrupt the replication process, raising the danger that the replicated data would become out of date if an actual disaster or hardware failure occurred during the DR test.

A number of vendors aim to solve that problem by creating replicas of data that can be written to and kept current. According to NetApp, its FlexClones act as "a transparent writable layer" in front of the snapshot copy of the data in the DR facility, allowing the snapshot to be used for DR testing while remaining up to date in case of an actual disaster. Symantec Corp. has enhanced a similar feature called Fire Drill in release 5.0 of Veritas Storage Foundation for Windows.

CA offers a similar capability with XOsoft Assured Recovery, which suspends the replication of data between a master and replica copy, spooling changes made during a test and applying them to the replica only after the test is over and replication resumes. CA XOsoft Assured Recovery works in conjunction with the CA XOsoft Replication and CA XOsoft High Availability DR and business continuity software (formerly WANSync and WANSyncHA, respectively).

These writable replicas not only make it safer to do DR testing, but make the replicated data available for other uses, such as data mining,

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and test and development.

Click here for a sampling of
backup reporting applications (PDF).

This was first published in May 2008

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