Using snapshot and replication in your data protection strategy

How does replication fit with snapshot backup as part of a data protection strategy? And what are the biggest mistakes or misconceptions you see today about replication and backup?

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We are seeing big upticks in adding replication to snapshots and traditional backup. In fact, in ESG's recent report on data protection strategies for highly virtualized and private cloud infrastructures, less than 10% of folks were "only" doing traditional backups. Most were also doing replication, either at the application level, the volume level or the storage level, as well as snapshots.

The biggest misconception is that replication and backup are interchangeable. This same kind of problem confused many people when it came to backup and archive. A long-term backup is not an archive; its retention isn't driven by the contents of the data but by a fixed schedule. At first, most everyone confused the two -- and it really was the fault of the marketing folks at backup companies, who saw that archiving was appealing and started mislabeling their capabilities.

Then, we went through a phase where folks started understanding that the two data protection strategies were different, and the pendulum swung all the way in the other direction, where separate folks were using separate tools, and isolated strategies let to isolated storage.

Now, we understand that backup and archival tools are complementary and can sometimes be achieved with integrated products, co-managed by one team and retained in unified storage.

The same reality exists for replication and backup. For the best data protection strategy, you must recognize that they are not the same, but complementary. Understand that they may be achieved by separate means (e.g., application-centric replication alongside centrally managed backups), but that they need to be designed as part of one strategy.

This was first published in August 2013

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