EMC links local and remote data protection

EMC rolls out a new version of RecoverPoint that allows CDP and replication on the same volume. It also unveils its first mainframe VTL.

EMC Corp. is fine-tuning its RecoverPoint replication and continuous data protection (CDP) software with support for local CDP and remote replication on the same data volume and tighter integration of the two features.

EMC also unveiled the EMC Disk Library for Mainframe (DLm) 4080, a mainframe virtual tape library (VTL) based on the Celerra NAS platform.

The major update to RecoverPoint is the ability to assign continuous data protection (CDP) and remote replication policies to the same data volume. According to Rob Emsley, senior director of software product marketing for EMC, both processes could not be applied to the same data in previous versions.

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For Duane Swizer, director of technical operations for First Independent Bank in Washington state, this update removes the most important item from his wish list for the product. Swizer has used the product going back to its days with Kashya Inc., which EMC acquired in 2006. He said the latest version should provide speedier data restores.

"The one piece missing was the ability to keep a local copy of the replicated data, as well as sending a copy to our DR site," he wrote in an email to SearchStorage.com. "With the launch of the new version, we are looking forward to having a local snapshot in our data center to provide our organization a quicker restore of data in case of data corruption."

Another update, called the Clariion Splitter, puts processing for the RecoverPoint's copy-on-write application onto Clariion storage arrays, eliminating the need for an intelligent switch. This feature will only work with the newest CX 3 series disk arrays. The splitter can now handle VMware file system data.

Is it too late for CDP?

According to Emsley, the update to RecoverPoint is in part an effort to boost deployments of the CDP feature. "When users have had to make a choice, most have chosen to use replication only," he admitted.

The reluctance of organizations to use CDP isn't limited to RecoverPoint. The much-hyped backup technology hasn't really caught on, and its chances of catching on as a standalone product appear slim. But analysts see hope for CDP inside of data protection applications.

"CDP has been most successful when deployed as a feature of an accepted data protection technology, such as backup or replication," said Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. Recent research by the company found that CDP is actively being used by 13% of organizations, with 40% of respondents reporting that the technology is in plan for the next 24 months.

"It's been around a while, and it hasn't become mainstream," said Mike Fisch, a Clipper Group analyst. "But the technology is good. I liken it to snapshot copies taken to the extreme, and many users, particularly in the midmarket, are only just looking to add snapshots in the first place." Fisch also said he's seen adoption of CDP in the enterprise space. "It hasn't come about as fast as we thought it would a few years ago, but the technology hasn't been completely ignored," he said.

Too many cooks in the EMC replication kitchen?

While the new version of RecoverPoint should make users, such as Swizer, happy, it does nothing to reduce the number of replication products offered by EMC. It has array-based replication with Clariion's SnapView and MirrorView, and Symmetrix's TimeFinder and SRDF; host-based replication with RepliStor; and RecoverPoint for heterogeneous appliance-based replication.

This can confuse customers, although Swizer said he's in no hurry to see EMC pare down its portfolio. "I personally like having options based on the scenario," he wrote. "If EMC were to streamline the product base, I am afraid it might require me to change my plans to meet one of their needs."

EMC has also been feeling the heat from smaller storage companies, such as Compellent Technologies Inc. and EqualLogic Corp. that bundle replication and other data protection features into the software on their disk arrays. With this release, replication remains an add-on feature for Clariion arrays.

New mainframe VTL

The DLm 4080 mainframe VTL uses software from EMC partner Bus-Tech Inc. packaged into virtual tape emulators (VTEs) -- server blades that slide into a Celerra storage cabinet and can be clustered up to four ways. Emsley said the system is based on the Celerra NAS platform because the VTEs use NFS to access the disk storage. Using NFS allows all VTEs to access the entire disk in the disk array while still splitting up the virtual tape interface among several compute engines to improve performance.

The DLm 4080 can scale to 190 TB capacity with the addition of two cabinets. While other mainframe VTLs on the market function as tape caches, Emsley said EMC intends this VTL to retain mainframe backups on disk indefinitely. "In the mainframe world, the VTL as we think of it in open systems really isn't common," he said. "The DLm is meant to be the first tapeless mainframe backup solution."

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