EMC refreshes remote replication

EMC has upgraded its SRDF remote replication software to support multiple vendors; three-site disaster recovery and a hook into VMware.

EMC Corp. announced it will offer, in the first quarter of 2005, heterogeneous replication for its Symmetrix array enabling users to replicate data to IBM, Hitachi Data Systems or Hewlett-Packard Co. storage arrays, instead of another Symmetrix.

It's a feature the Hopkinton, Mass. company has been promising for a while and already offers on its Clariion line. Like SANCopy for the Clariion, SRDF Open Replicator for the Symmetrix provides a point-in-time copy capability for users wishing to replicate data to non-EMC systems.

"You might have an older product sitting on the floor that could be put to use, whether it's from us or not," said Chuck Hollis, VP of storage platforms marketing at EMC. This feature has been on users' wish lists for some time because of the high price tag of the Symmetrix. Open Replicator gives people the ability to replicate data to a cheaper system as desired.

Stepping up its advanced features, EMC announced SRDF Star, a three-site business continuity product that allows users to replicate data between three data centers. SRDF Star extends the concurrent synchronous and asynchronous replication capabilities of SRDF by enabling any two of the three data centers to automatically continue replicating data in the event that one becomes unavailable. A user replicating data between a primary data center in New York and secondary data centers in New Jersey and London would be able to continue replicating between New Jersey and London in the event of an outage at the New York center -- providing continuous protection and minimizing data loss in the event of a multi-site outage. Using the standard version of SRDF, users would have to make a complete copy of the site before replicating, which would take much longer.

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"This product isn't for the masses," said Tony Asaro, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "It's for the banks looking at business risk analysis and the Fortune 50s -- for the people that can afford it, it is important."

Carl Greiner, analyst with Meta Group, said the enhancements to SRDF improves the product over what's already available in the marketplace. However, he said EMC could always better its scripting, which is the software users have to write on their host machines to run the replication software.

Next up. EMC has qualified SRDF to work with its virtual server software from VMware. Now, users don't have to have to maintain a duplicate set of servers running at their remote site. VMware can be used to create "virtual servers" at the remote site, each with access to real-time replicas of the Symmetrix production data, enabling a rapid restart from the secondary site for less cost.

"Finally, an example of VMware working with an EMC product," Asaro noted. EMC acquired VMware in December 2003 for $635 million in cash. Asaro said he's "not doing backflips about these announcements," but said that they are important additions to a popular product. He added that EMC needs to provide remote mirroring between unlike arrays, for real-time relationships between the systems. "IBM can create a mirror between a Shark and a FastT using SAN Volume Controller, if EMC could do this between a Symmetrix and a Clariion that would be of benefit to users," he said.

EMC has added mainframe replication capabilities to SRDF to work with IBM and has increased the number of copies that users can make inside the Symmetrix. With TimeFinder Clone, users can make up to 16 copies of their data and protect these copies using RAID-5 protection to ensure consistent replicas across multiple arrays.

NAS update

EMC has partnered with Arkivio Inc. and Enigma Data Systems as well as used its own Legato product to create a policy engine for its NAS gateway product, Celerra. Called Filemover, it will automatically move data according to a set policy to another target, which could be another array or tape.

And last but not least, to help users get a handle on creating an information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy, EMC has launched a service called Where to Start, which provides users with all the tools and methodologies to work out an ILM plan. EMC said it could offer this service in non-EMC environments, if required.

Permabit takes a shot

Separately, Permabit announced the Permeon Replication feature, which replicates data between two Permeon systems. It can preserve nonrewritable and nonerasable Write Once, Read Many file attributes on the replica file system via asynchronous and transparent disk-based replication, and enables users to configure replication on an automated, policy-driven schedule. Unlike EMC's upgrade to SRDF, Permabit can only replicate between its own systems.

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