UPDATE: EMC, Legato and Nortel join forces to make data safer

When a disaster strikes a company, key business information stored in its data centres are vulnerable and risk obliteration without a corporate business continuity plan.

To help companies protect their data, EMC Corp. in Hopkinton, Mass., Nortel Networks Ltd. in Brampton, Ont., and Legato Systems Inc. in Mountain View, Calif. announced a business continuity solution that would allow disparate data centres to behave as one.

If a data centre was destroyed or system unavailable, the solution will enable transactions to automatically be re-routed to an alternate site. No manual restore or restart procedures would be needed, which EMC says reduces costs and time to recovery.

The solution includes EMC’s Symmetrix high-end storage area network (SAN) products and CLARiiON SAN products, EMC’s Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) remote replication software, Legato’s Automated Availability Manager (AAM) for EMC SRDF and Nortel’s OPTera Metro 5200 Multi-service platform.

“We’re basically bringing from a hardware perspective Symmetrix and CLARiiON that will be storing information at the sites,” Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis at EMC in Hopkinton, Mass., said. “But the most the significant piece is the Symmetrix remote data facility that provides multi-platform, multi-site data replication transparently so that data that’s created at one site can – totally transparent to the applications and servers, and with no overhead on the servers – be replicated to the remote site.”

Legato’s AAAM for EMC’s SRDF combines the functions of the two to protect sites of system resources, data and applications; protects for planned or unplanned downtime; protects for site failure and disaster; and provides automatic or manual site-to-site failover and fail-back.

Legato’s AAM console manages the Symmetrix and CLARiiON SANs over distances of up to 200 kilometres because Nortel’s OPTera Metro 5200 is based on dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) and its bandwidth provides massive scalability, Steinhardt said.

In addition, the customer can tailor the solution to fit their storage and disaster planning needs such as choosing to replicate critical data at a specific disaster recovery location, and sharing data storage tasks between other data centres. The options are also there if a company wants to go to the extreme of saving all the data at each location.

“The permutations and ways you can design it are not insignificant; there are a lot of different ways you could slice it. You could have it where [with] two data centres, each picks up some of the load, or one picks up all of the load, or one picks up a part of the load and another picks up a bigger part of the load. There are multitude of ways you could define this,” Steinhardt explained.

Supported platforms for the solution include Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Solaris, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s HP-UX, Microsoft Corp.’s Windows NT and 2000 and IBM Corp.’s AIX.

Alan Freedman, research manager, infrastructure hardware at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said the products included in the solution are well-known and well-regarded and are already widely-deployed in the enterprise.

Freedman said business continuity solutions have had a stronger presence in the enterprise since Sept. 11. He explained that customers want a solution that is easy to architect, heterogeneous and easy to install but added that the weak economy has slowed adoption of business continuity solutions.

“There’s been a lot hype surrounding disaster recovery and business continuance and that has translated into a lot of tire-kicking on the customer’s end,” he said. “What I mean by that is going out and evaluating or investigating solutions like that. It hasn’t actually resulted in a tremendous amount of purchasing or installations but we do see some momentum in the market picking up. Once the economy picks up and people are more willing to spend their budgets we should see a rise in these types of solutions.”

In addition, EMC said the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) announced that its Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) has reached draft level. These are guidelines for industry software- and gear-makers to follow to make their products interoperable. EMC is a member of SNIA and Steinhardt said SMI-S v1.0 should be finalized by mid-2003. He also said EMC would start building these specifications into its products with the first ones being rolled out in the second half of this year.

For more information visit www.emc.com, www.nortel.com or www.legato.com.