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Hardware replication vs. software-based data replication tools

What are the benefits/drawbacks of hardware-based replication vs. software-based replication?

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Both hardware replication and software-based replication have benefits and drawbacks. However, which solution you utilize will likely be dependent on your business recovery needs, and objectives along with financial considerations.

With that said, knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each of these options make it easier to decide what data replication tool is appropriate for your needs. Two important questions to consider for your data replication needs are how quickly will you need to recover the data being replicated after a disruption, and how much down time can you afford?

Hardware replication

The benefits of hardware-based replication include:

  • Typically easy to set up initial configuration
  • No need for application-awareness of replication
  • Consistency with secondary site storage in synchronous mode
  • Hosts attached to the storage environment can use the replication feature
  • Vendor-specific support

The drawbacks of hardware-based replication include:

  • Tied to vendor- or hardware-specific solutions
  • Need to use specific disk arrays (tied to vendor)
  • May require advanced scripting to increase functionality
  • Usually more expensive
  • Need to accurately know and track storage requirements

Software-based data replication

The benefits of software-based replication include:

  • Generally more options and features
  • Not tied into specific hardware brands
  • Can be used across multiple hardware- and hybrid-based platforms
  • Replication usually occurs in real time
  • Restoration usually completed in shorter amount of time

The drawbacks of software-based replication include:

  • Hardware vendors may not provide needed support
  • Support may be limited to just the software application
  • You still may need to track and accurately know storage requirements

This was first published in September 2010

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