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EMC this week covered some serious ground on the software side of the house, announcing a slew of new tools for sending files between data centers and between storage systems made by different vendors.

EMC is garnering attention from an upgrade to its Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) replication software. For the first time, customers will be able to use a tool in this package called Star to send information over long distances between three different data centers.

"A customer mirroring data between a primary data center in New York and secondary data centers in New Jersey and London would be able to continue replicating between New Jersey and London in the event of an outage at the New York center, ensuring continuous protection and minimizing data loss in the event of a multi-site outage," EMC said.

In the past, the primary site had to be up to pull off the replication tasks. The three-site replication is a first from any Tier 1 storage vendor.

EMC is under increasing pressure to satisfy the large customers that would look for this type of technology. Hitachi last month refreshed its high-end storage line, and IBM is expected to follow suit by refreshing its Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) or "Shark" system next week. EMC is clearly hoping to maintain an edge over these competing systems via software, although most of the new SRDF features will not be available until the first quarter of next year.

EMC also upgraded its SRDF code in a couple of other areas. It released a tool for quickly switching from real-time synchronous replication to near-real-time asynchronous replication. This gives customers using synchronous replication a way to cut down on bandwidth costs and speed up application performance as needed.

In addition, EMC has built a bridge between its SRDF software and its VMware virtualization software. Customers can now slice up a single server into numerous virtual servers at a remote site. Each one of the virtual servers can then tap production data on a Symmetrix box. This means customers can have fewer servers at a remote site than at their production site, which saves on hardware costs. This, however, requires that customers place significant faith in the VMware technology, which is making a gradual move from test to production use.

Away from SRDF, EMC is finally living up to some of its promises to work with multivendor gear. New Open Replicator software permits the exchange of data between Symmetrix boxes and systems from IBM, Hitachi and HP. ®

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