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Data Replication Technology: What it is & how does it work?

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MAY, 2018

Mission critical data demands data services that deliver availability and recoverability. IT environments dealing with such data employ services like replication for said purpose. With combinations like backup and replication, IT environments deliver robust data protection for the enterprise.

This article explores data replication, its mechanics and types and its role in disaster recovery for businesses.

What is Data Replication?

Data replication, as the term implies, is the creation of replicas/copies of data from one storage location to another. This can be done between two on-premises appliances or between appliances in different locations or to completely geo-physically separated appliances via cloud based services.

Replication can be executed via three types of networks: Storage Area Network (SAN), Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN).

Conventionally, data replication is associated with data availability and disaster recovery (DR). However, there’s more to data replication than that.

Data replication techniques can also be leveraged by enterprises that have or need to create the following:

  • Additional Transactional Processing Systems – These facilitate real time reactions to transactional occurrences or changes.
  • Application Development Projects – Such projects demand immediate access to data to maximize business results.
  • Big Data Analytics – Analytics depends on data accessibility across teams of analysts working with the same data.
  • Data Synchronization – Data management projects, analytical data marts, mainframe environments and data warehouses can effectively leverage replication for data synchronization purposes.

How does Data Replication work?

Replication can be implemented using several different methods. Here are some of the ways you can utilize data replication.

  • Host-based replication.
  • Hypervisor-based replication.
  • Array-based replication.
  • Network-based replication.

Host-based replication – Purpose built servers

For this type of data replication, application servers paired with software are used to create replicas/copies of data from one site to another. This replication is mostly file-based and asynchronous.

The advantage to this replication is that it’s a storage agnostic.

Hypervisor-based replication – Replicate entire VMs

This type of data replication is specifically designed to copy/replicate entire Virtual Machines (VMs) from one host server or host cluster to another. This ability of replicating entire VMs facilitates disaster recovery by easing fail over to the replicated copy of the primary system.

The advantage to Hypervisor-based replication is that can run on servers that do not natively support replication.

The downside is that it uses CPU resources; this implies that during replication, the server performance is affected.

Array-based replication – Built-in Software Automatically Replicates Data

In this data replication type, built-in software is used in compatible storage arrays to automatically replicate data between them. Array-based replication’s limitation is that it requires homogenous storage environments; as the source and target arrays have to be similar.

The advantage of array-based replication is that it’s more robust and it requires less coordination when deployed.

Network-based replication – Supports any host platform

This type of data replication requires an additional switch or appliance between storage arrays and servers. Network-based replication can support any host platform and can work with any array.

Typically, network-based replication is used with heterogeneous storage environments.

Data Replication: Synchronous and Asynchronous

Data replication can be divided into two types:

  • Synchronous replication.
  • Asynchronous replication.

Synchronous Replication – Creating replicas in real time

Synchronous replication creates copies of data in real time. This type of date replication is best for environments that require reduced RTOs (Recovery Time Objectives). As synchronous replication is continuously creating data in real time, it tends to be very expensive. However, it is also very reliable in the event of a disaster.

Synchronous replication requires capable computation capacity because it creates latency and slows the primary systems.

Asynchronous Replication – Creating time delayed replicas

Unlike synchronous replication, asynchronous replication creates copies of data as per defined schedule. Asynchronous replication is designed to work over distances and uses less bandwidth; in comparison to its counterpart.

Asynchronous replication is suitable for businesses that can endure longer RTOs (Recovery Time Objectives).

The role of Data Replication in Disaster Recovery (DR)

Data replication, in combination with snapshot technology, is a key technology for disaster recovery as a Service (DRaaS). In light of the basics of DRaaS, replication creates the copy of the primary system in the form of a secondary system; in the event of a disaster, the primary systems failover to this replicated system.

Businesses that rely on mission critical data and cannot compromise on RTOs, can effectively leverage synchronous replication; while businesses that can endure longer RTOs but need cost effective disaster recovery can use asynchronous replication.

In order to ensure that the enterprise disaster recovery (DR) solution is reliable, the IT administrator needs to run tests. They need to make sure that the available bandwidth is enough for the setup replication technology. This is especially important for businesses that rely on remote data centers.

Synchronizing large amounts of data requires optimized compute capacity and a lot of bandwidth; it is very important to make sure that the system is well prepared for this kind of workload.

Conclusion – Setup StoneFly’s Innovative and Reliable Replication Technology

Setting up efficient replication services is important; especially if you’re business relies on mission critical data. Instead of worrying over the complications of compatible replication or efficient disaster recovery; setup StoneFly’s backup and disaster recovery services and let the experts take care of your data for you.

Our optimized solutions deliver enterprise level and reliable services for data storage, data management and data protection.

Contact us for details about our products and services.

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