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Data Replication Technologies: Inside or Outside the Storage System?

When it comes to choosing the best technology for storage data replication, you must do your homework thoroughly. It’s a tough call to make with so many options in the marketplace and functionality variations. In most cases, a high percentage of IT leaders choose the replication software offered by their existing storage vendor.

By default, every storage vendor wants you to have SAN arrays of the same model on both the production site and disaster recovery (DR) site. It makes sense because SANs from different vendors are typically not compatible with each other and do not support replication between them. For example, an HPE 3PAR SAN and a Dell/EMC VNX SAN are incompatible, therefore unable to replicate between both solutions. This means you must pick a single storage vendor for data replication and stick with them through thick and thin.

This is the most common approach across datacenters’ disaster recovery practices. It seems practical, logical and most convenient for the IT admins, until you run into situations that you were not expecting. As you already know, technology keeps evolving, racing forward, and storage vendors are innovating at rapid pace. Disks are getting faster, denser and hold more capacity. New functionalities are being released every 12 to 18 months. Sounds great, right? But what if you wanted to buy the new shiny object?

Maybe Pure Storage comes up with an attractive all-flash array (AFA) and you see it as a beneficial add-on for your environment, or you want to deploy hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) for a critical project. In a perfect world, you should be able to just buy either one of these solutions and add it to your existing environment. But there is no plug and play in the SAN solutions world. It is actually quite complicated.

Here are 3 questions you should consider right away:

  1. How will I be able to integrate Pure Storage or HCI into my current data replication strategy?
  2. What’s the extra cost of 2 of these systems given the additional requirement at my DR site?
  3. How do we coordinate, test and verify multiple different data replication methods, procedures?

You probably wouldn’t like the answers you are thinking of right now if you truly found yourself in this situation. Breaking news, if your company is in the path of success, you will more than likely need to adopt all-flash or HCI at some point. Both HCI and AFA adoption is growing stronger every year. So the question is not if you will ever find yourself in this situation but rather when.

Which takes us to the perfect time to ask yourself the real question:

Should I do data replication inside or outside the storage system?

Now this is where the rubber hits the road. It is clear that taking a hardware approach for replication will prohibit your ability to add other storage technologies to your environment in the near future. Knowing what you know, I would assume you prefer a data replication solution outside the storage system. And I’m sure your next question is, where do I find it?

No worries, you are not alone. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of IT leaders trying to overcome this same challenge right now, and you happen to be reading the right page at the right time. I know of the magic software (not a pill) that will help you solve this problem.

DataCore’s software-defined storage (SDS) replication is compatible with every storage vendor in the industry and applies to 3-tier SANs as well as HCI configurations. The greatest benefit with DataCore SDS is that you won’t need to rip and replace your existing storage. You get to keep the same SAN, network topology, same disks and same controllers. By adding DataCore to the equation, you automatically remove the limits of expansion and diversity.

You are gaining the freedom to choose your storage from any vendor at any point in time. DataCore SDS is like having a plug-and-play storage controller: just attach your new SAN device, and it just works. Say good-bye to storage silos and vendor lock-in. You are now in the driver’s seat, and you decide which storage topology and supplier is best suited for your immediate business goals.

All the disk arrays are placed in a virtual pool (regardless of vendor name) and this inclusive layer allows any block of data to be replicated to your DR site, regardless of what storage model resides on your remote location. Your primary site may consist of HPE, Pure Storage and IBM SANs, while your DR site may consist of Dell/EMC and NetApp SANs. That is totally acceptable with DataCore SDS.

To offer a visual illustration of this must-have technology, we put together a fun explainer video that will help you understand this SDS replication concept. Click below to watch the short video.

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