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Storage Replication Breaks Ties

Data replication is shape-shifting as it grows in importance to storage managers, and emerging trends signal simpler and cheaper approaches.

The expanded role of replication is no surprise, since there's simply more data out there that needs protection. At the same time, users are taking a longer look at timeworn replication methods in search of something better.

To see what's new requires a look at the status quo. In general, replication is still tied to backup, with one copy made locally and a second copy sent offsite. And it's typically done in storage arrays or alternatively in software at the server.

Both approaches have pros and cons. On the array side, replication tools that come with SANs from EMC, HP, IBM, and others have distinct pros and cons.

Let's start with the pros: "[SAN array-based replication] provides an effective single point of data replication for mission critical data," points out George Crump of the Storage Switzerland consultancy. Array-based replication is usually more scalable, he says. It can be cheaper than software replication for large installations in which software-based wares would call for multiple licenses. And it can support any operating systems that attach to the SAN, "for example, that OpenVMS box that you may still have," Crump asserts.

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