Today, basic backup and restore alone doesn’t allow IT staff to meet demanding service level agreements and disaster recovery strategies. When you lose data or a database between scheduled backups, you often have to manually re-enter the data and transactions from scratch, and in some cases, the information is permanently lost. Some organizations tell me that restoring data from backups takes too long for critical applications. Others say that physical tape or disk transport offsite for disaster recovery purposes is risky, costly and time consuming. So how can SMBs address these challenges?

Consider a data replication software solution which, if used properly, can be deployed, managed and maintained by any IT staff running basic backup today.

Replication is the process of synchronizing two servers—a primary server (the one you want to protect) and a replica server (your backup or “failover” server). It’s like copying existing information from one server to another server. The replica server can reside on the LAN, but it can be placed in a remote location that can be reached over a WAN or dedicated line. After the initial synchronization is completed, only the small changes and new data are copied from the primary server to the replica server, so this process may be performed in an ongoing, continuous manner.

Some replication software solutions include a “data rewind” feature that, when combined with a continuous replication process, provides continuous data protection, or CDP. CDP complements the data protection offered by traditional backup solutions by offering data protection and recovery between periodic backups and snapshots. It enables IT staff to quickly and easily revert to a known good point in time to recover emails, files and even complete databases. And a replication solution can also be used to eliminate offsite physical media transport as the backups can be transmitted over the WAN—even if you also use a data deduplication solution.

Other replication solutions such as SAN and storage-based ones, can only be used on storage devices of the same manufacturer. Replication software, on the other hand, is “hardware-independent,” so you can choose expensive, high-speed storage for your production environment, while using slightly slower but more affordable storage for the replica system.

A replication solution that is integrated with a traditional backup solution provides an even better solution for total data protection. Clearly, small and mid-sized businesses need more than backup to meet the growing demands of the business today, and a replication software solution can help bridge the gap.