Tech Report: Nonstop data protection

Jerome Wendt

The latest continuous data protection (CDP), or continuous backup, products promise administrators the ability to recover from a point in time--going back minutes, hours, days or even weeks--on a range of platforms. They offer the flexibility of restoring individual logical unit numbers (LUNs), defined volumes or single files.

CDP products differ from point-in-time snapshots in two key ways. First, data changes are recorded continually, as opposed to halting an application's I/O activity to create the data snap. And second, data changes are stored incrementally rather than storing numerous data images. A growing number of products also provide the ability to:

Recover from any previous point in the past, rather than certain fixed points Create a central data store that multiple servers can use for backup and recovery Because of the differences among CDP product offerings, administrators must sort through them to identify the tradeoffs that each one will present to their environment. Administrators should consider these factors:

  • Dual write-performance penalties
  • Reliability of the CDP application
  • Difficulty of deployment
  • Maintenance of the application
  • Additional storage requirements
  • Impact of the agent on the server's I/O
  • The different types of applications that are supported
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