EMC upgrades replication, virtual tape products

EMC Corp. on Monday announced a new version of its RecoverPoint data replication and protection solution and a new virtual tape library for IBM mainframes.

Rob Emsley, EMC’s senior director of software product marketing based in Hopkinton, Mass., called Version 3 of RecoverPoint “a major upgrade” to the technology EMC acquired with the purchase of data protection firm Kashya Inc. in May 2006 in its continuing buying binge that also included the acquisitions of security firm RSA, virtualization pioneer VMware (since spun off into a private company) and content management company Documentum. EMC announced Friday it would buy personal information management company Pi Corp. for an undisclosed amount of cash.

EMC has been increasingly focused on backup and recovery, replication and security, Emsley said in a briefing last week. “It’s an area where a lot of customers continue to face challenges,” he said. The new release applies “new thinking to an old problem,” he said.

A key feature of the new version is that the replication is network-based, rather than array- or host-based. Array-based replication doesn’t impact the production environment, but can only replicated like-to-like – you couldn’t replicate an EMC array to one from Hitachi Data Systems, for example, said Lauren Whitehouse, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. They’re also proprietary and expensive. Host-based replication is cheaper and supports heterogenous environments, but impacts the production environment.

“Network-based replication (is) off-host and off-array,” she said. “(It is) simple and low-cost like host-based solutions — although the cost of the appliance it resides on is part of the price — but (doesn’t) bog down the production server. Processing occurs on a network appliance or switch.” It also supports heterogeneous storage systems, she said.

Emsley said it’s the data replication functionality that most customers – whom he described as typically mid-sized, with mid-range storage solutions – are buying when they purchase RecoverPoint. But he said continuous data protection is also a significant feature.

“Think of it as a Tivo for your data centre,” Emsley said. RecoverPoint can recreate the state of the customer’s data centre at any point during a particular window of time; say, for example, three days. The actual size of the window depends on how much storage the customer has available, and how dynamic the production environment is.

A transactional database environment, for example, changes a lot and demands more storage, Emsley said. It’s also less tolerant of recovery time, since it’s an environment where time is money. It demands an image that is closest in time to the point of failure, and the fastest to recover.

The new version allows the customer to run the replication and the CDP against the same production environment, which wasn’t possible before because of the complexity of the implementation, Emsley said.

“Each replica copy had a journal of consistency groups. Either could be recovered independently,” said Whitehouse. “EMC would split off one copy, mount it, clone it and use it.” The problem was that customers wanted a smaller storage footprint and protection from logical corruption, she said. The new version offers the ability to have another copy for off-site created from the production set. Rollback can occur through either image.

“This provides a lot of flexibility,” Whitehouse said. “One use case is (disaster recovery) testing…you can run DR testing in the remote site (on the replica) without infringing on the local copy that may be needed for operational recovery.”

There is also better integration with EMC’s Clariion CX-3 family of disk arrays, written into the firmware of the arrays, Emsley said.

MORE: EMC’s new VLT scales to half a petabyte

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