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Data Replication via Storage over IP

Both disk-to-disk and disk-to-tape data copying may be performed over longer distances using new storage over IP technologies. The Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) protocol tunnels data replication traffic within a wide area network link, while the Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP) provides a means to route storage data in native IP format. The iFCP protocol also provides fault isolation between connected SANs, further reinforcing the stability customers require for DR strategies.

Optimized buffering, data compression, support for jumbo frames, and techniques such as Nishan Systems’ Fast Write algorithm enable full utilization of available WAN bandwidth and allow for the extension of disaster recovery across hundreds or thousands of miles. The bottom line is that the 10 kilometer limit previously imposed by native Fibre Channel extension is no longer a restriction for today’s disaster recovery planning.

In addition, the use of more affordable and available IP network services for DR brings business continuity within the reach of medium and small businesses. Converting Fibre Channel traffic into IP enables customers to leverage a wider variety of IP solutions for DR strategies.

Steinbach Credit Union in Canada, for example, is using wireless LAN technology to replicate storage data between its primary production facility in Steinbach, Manitoba, and a secondary facility in Winnipeg. Using a combination of Proxim wireless bridges, XIOtech storage, and Nishan IP storage switches, this innovative solution avoids the monthly recurring costs of leased fiber optic services and still accomplishes the primary aim of high availability data access. Other customers are leveraging shared IP network links to support both disaster recovery and messaging traffic between multiple sites.


Currently available disk-to-disk data replication, remote server clustering, and IP storage switch products are making it easier for customers to design and implement DR strategies. As with 12-step programs, however, the key to disaster recovery is to take the first step. With management recognition of the necessity of DR support and funding, and due diligence in selecting robust products from current offerings, SAN architects and administrators can create recovery strategies that are tightly integrated with day-to-day storage operations and that can ensure business continuance in spite of unexpected disruptions.

Tom Clark
Director of Technical Marketing, Nishan Systems
Author: Designing Storage Area Networks Second Edition (2003) (available at Amazon.com), IP SANs (2002) (also available at Amazon.com).

» See All Articles by Columnist Tom Clark

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