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Is copy data management a replacement for backup?

Copy data management can be a backup replacement in certain situations, but organizations need to be aware of its limitations.

A number of vendors have copy data management offerings, and each has its own philosophy about how the technology should be used. That said, copy data management is more about storage efficiency than data protection.

Generally speaking, redundancy accounts for a large percentage of an organization's storage cost. According to some estimates, the average enterprise creates eight to 10 copies of every production data source. These redundant copies are used for a wide variety of purposes, including dev/test, support, end-user training and reporting. If these estimates are true, a relatively modest 100 GB database could ultimately account for up to a terabyte of storage consumption. When you factor in the number of production data sources that exist within the average enterprise environment, you can begin to see how quickly redundant data can consume the available storage.

Copy data management allows everyone to work from a common copy of a data source. Rather than a development team making a full-blown copy of a production database, the copy data management software might instead use snapshot technology to provide the development team with an isolated development environment that perfectly mimics the production environment. In other words, the dev team is using the production database, but in a way that protects the integrity of the production data.

Although copy data management could conceivably be used to create data recovery points, the software never creates a true backup copy of the data source. Any redundancy exists only at the storage level. With the proper level of redundancy, copy data management might be able to act as a backup replacement, but it is not a good solution for organizations that require an offline (tape) copy of their data.

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