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Selecting a CDP strategy

In a recent article on SearchDataBackup.com, Curtis Preston provides a thorough explanation of continuous data protection (CDP) for end users and how it differs from near-CDP. So what does this technology mean for the channel, and what should you be looking for in the tool you select?

The first question to ask yourself when approaching a CDP project for customers is whether it even makes sense for them. In terms of customer sales, this market is infinitesimal, especially for stand-alone solutions. By offering a tool that just does CDP, you could be further complicating your customer’s backup process rather than complimenting it. While these tools often create a volume that can be mounted and directed to your backup application, this means a whole new set of scripts and processes to create, maintain and monitor.

A larger concern is whether these stand-alone CDP packages will simply be replaced by backup vendors adding the functionality to their applications, like SyncSort and CommVault do today, or whether storage vendors will provide the functionality right on their controllers via, essentially, continuous snapshots? If so, these solutions would have the advantage of being integrated into either the backup or storage management process.

In fairness, these alternatives to stand-alone CDP tools present their own problems. For instance, to get CDP functionality in a backup tool, you might need to replace the backup application, and CDP functionality on a controller places the data at greater risk because the CDP copy and the primary copy would likely be on the same controller and the same disk subsystem. Of course, stand-alone CDP solutions require an additional software purchase too.

Recommended strategy: Be aware of these solutions in case your customer needs a near-zero recovery time. But instead of guiding them toward stand-alone CDP, invest time with backup software suppliers and storage hardware suppliers that are adding these capabilities.

George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation’s largest storage integrators.

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