Two important facets of disaster recovery include high availability clustering and data replication. And according to SteelEye Technology, customers are increasingly demanding products that offer these combined services, seeking higher levels of protection to safeguard data rather than just applications or servers. In the past, SteelEye considered data replication simply as a means for providing clustering services. But recent consumer demand led the company to expand its data replication products to provide continuous data protection (CDP).

SteelEye Data Replication for Windows 6.0, which is available as part of the LifeKeeper Protection Suite for Windows Server, includes new features such as any-point-in-time rewind, a built-in data recovery wizard, and the ability to replicate to multiple targets simultaneously. These new features use CDP to provide disaster recovery.

The any-point-in-time rewind feature lets an administrator access a backup and move forward or backward through the replicated data stream, using timestamps or another defined bookmark, to any point in time. This feature gives administrators the ability of finding the optimal time from which to restore data to put back into production. The data recovery wizard is a guide that walks you through the process of building a temporary data set and validating that data set, then automatically moving the data set onto the production server and bringing up the applications necessary for normal operations to resume. This wizard recognizes dependencies between data volumes--so if, for example, you need to restore a volume that houses your Microsoft Exchange mail stores, the wizard automatically evaluates the corresponding volume that holds your Exchange log files to also restore it from a point in time that ensures consistency between the two volumes. Another new feature supports multiple simultaneous targets for replication. Thus, you can back up a production server to another server on the LAN, for quick recovery, as well as to another server or multiple servers across the WAN, for disaster recovery purposes.

Although SteelEye's new data replication product is currently available only as a bundle with its clustering solution, the company is considering breaking the products apart, to provide CDP for Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS). SteelEye is still doing research to determine whether this need exists.