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HP Preps Pricey Disaster Setup

Finding new ways to disaster-proof critical business data seems to have become one of the summers hottest tickets. The latest vendor delivering an offering in this area is Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), which is readying a very high-end, three-site remote replication offering that's not for the faint of heart: The starting price is a cool $6 million.

The computer giant is gearing up to launch a high-end disaster recovery solution next month, promising that it will safeguard customers’ data even through the most unthinkable of disasters. The HP StorageWorks Multi-Site Disaster Tolerant Solution includes HP’s XP disk arrays, as well as its Metrocluster and Continental Cluster software for servers, providing synchronous replication between two proximal sites and asynchronous replication to a third remote site.

Like most synchronous remote replication solutions, HP’s new offering ensures that the second site -- which cannot be more than 100 kilometers from the primary site -- always has an exact replica of all of the first site’s data. The data is sent to the second site via dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) equipment; HP says it supports any standard DWDM equipment. In the case of a local disaster at the primary site, such as a fire, the second site can automatically pick up operations.

But what happens if an entire region is hit by disaster and both sites are wiped out? That’s where the third, very remote location comes in, HP says. Depending on the importance of the application, companies can choose to asynchronously mirror their data to the third site, or send point-in-time copies to the site at regular intervals, like once every 15 minutes or every hour. For sending data asynchronously across long distances, HP offers SAN extension equipment from CNT (Nasdaq: CMNT).

If some colossal catastrophe were to wipe out both primary sites, customers could quickly get their operations up and running again from the third site, HP claims. While they would lose any data that had yet to be sent, or that was in transit, they would still have almost all of their data intact.

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