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Cisco accelerates replication between data centres

Company promises to 'dramatically shrink' replication times by adding technology to its Wide Area Application Engine appliances for data centres

In an effort to speed data centre replication over wide area networks, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) has put its WAN optimization technology for branch offices into its top-of-the-line acceleration appliance.

The company said a new version of the Wide-Area Application Services (WAAS) software that runs its WAE-7341 and WAE-7371 Wide Area Application Engine appliances for data centres now come with a replication acceleration mode.

“In terms of return on investment, you’re now able to minimize the WAN bandwidth that’s used for data replication,” said Marcus Phipps, Cisco’s senior marketing manager for data centre solutions.

Most large organizations have a separate data centre for backup protection, he said, or they might have several data centres that feed into a central centre. If big enough, replication could take days, even over an OC-3 or DS-3 link. The replication acceleration technology can “dramatically shrink” replication times over a WAN, he said. As a result, organizations can schedule more replications in a given period, which will make the data more resilient.

For example, a U.S. company with multiple sites that he wouldn’t name found it could take up to 78 hours to copy data from one site to its main data centre, getting throughput of 37 kilobytes a second. When it used the new version of WAAS, throughput jumped to 600 Kbps and the transfer time dropped to 1.3 hours.

Most customers will see similar results, Phipps said, although replication times will depend on the replication protocol used, the applications being replicated, the speed of the WAN link and the latency between sites.

Other than a few policies that can be set, Phipps said, the replication acceleration feature basically uses an auto configuration mode. It has been validated for use with EMC SRDF and NetApp SnapMirror replication software.

The WAE-7341 comes with 12GB of memory and 900GB of storage, while the WAE-7371 has 24GB of memory and 1.5TB of storage.

In a storage-related announcement, the company also said that it has added virtual machine optimization capability to its NX-OS (previously called SAN-OS) operating system. Essentially, it is adding virtual machine awareness to NX-OS 4.1, said Tony Antony, a senior Cisco marketing manager. This will help IT managers hone virtual machine performance in devices using NX-OS.

Cisco intends to make NX-OS the operating system for all of its data centre local area and storage area network products over the next five years.