Monday, June 23, 2008

Top 10 Reasons for Continuous Data Protection

At last week's HP confab in Las Vegas, FalconStor executive Peter Eicher gave a talk called "Ten Reasons You Need Continuous Data Protection."

FalconStor sells a solution in this area, and a few of the tips were product-centric, such as the flexibility to use any storage device or protocol you choose. Others, however, were more general in nature and address some issues regarding data backup and recovery.

Continuous data protection gives multiple recovery points, and moves away from the once-a-day practice of backing up data. "It's the single overriding reason" people adopt CDP, Eicher said. But there is the issue of data integrity to consider. Using what Eicher termed "full CDP," users are continually capturing data, so in the event of a disaster, nothing is lost. However, recovery time can be quite long. "Near CDP," he said, allows for snapshots of the data at regular intervals, making recovery quicker, but introducing the possibility of data loss, if something was written to the server between the last snapshot and the failure. "How bad is it if you miss a few transactions? If each order is for a million dollars, you don't want to miss any," he said.

Eicher also spoke about the benefits of server virutalization beyond simple consolidation, and how the technology can aid in backup and recovery. If you're running 10 virtual machines on one physical machine, you can issues at backup of CPU, memory and I/O capacity. FalconStor's approach to CDP lets users back up at the disk level, not the host level, so the impact is greatly reduced. And, from a recovery standpoint, you can have one VM standing in for 100 physical servers, and each can recover boot images from the CDP device. No longer is data recovery a one-to-one deal, Eicher noted.

CDP, he said, also helps organizations get rid of tape at remote offices, where the person in charge of changing tapes is usually not an IT worker, where tapes often get jammed, or can get lost in shipment back to headquarters, or he goes on vacation and no backup is done while he's gone. Using CDP, the data is kept on the box and replicated back to the data center, where it can then be transferred to tape storage.

At the conference, Eicher said he heard a unique use of CDP – one company was doing CDP for virus scanning. "Live scanning slows down the e-mail server a lot," he said. "By taking a snapshot of the e-mail server and running the virus scan against it, there's no impact to the live server. If a virus is found in one mailbox, you go right to it, without having to scan every mailbox. I thought that was a pretty interesting application of CDP."

-- David Rubinstein

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