Novell previews business-continuity cluster

Novell is expected to announce a business-continuity product that lets IT administrators cluster as many as four geographically separate storage-area networks to replicate and mirror data among each other for disaster recovery.

In a Novell Business Continuity Cluster Services implementation, IT administrators can link disparate SANs to fail over for each other when problems occur. The cluster requires NetWare 6.5, Novell's eDirectory, DirXML and Novell Cluster Services 1.6.

Travis Berkley, manager of LAN services for the University of Kansas, has seen demonstrations of the clustering and replication technology.

"We might use this (product) for connecting remote campuses we have for replicating important PeopleSoft data," Berkley says.

"If you had remote offices in various locations, you could effectively replicate them hither and yon," Berkley says. "That way if a branch office went down, you could still do business from corporate." Berkley has a Xiotech SAN connected to Novell NetWare servers.

The Novell Business Continuity Cluster also provides a less-than-5-minute Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and a 0-second Recovery Point Objective (RPO) that depends on the type of synchronization occurring between sites. RTO covers how long a customer can afford to be without its applications and data; RPO measures the amount of data a customer can afford to lose.

Data replication or mirroring is done asynchronously or synchronously across ATM, Fibre Channel, IP or SONET networks, depending on how much the customer has to spend, the latency they can tolerate and how distant the sites are from each other. It works with host-based, appliance-based or array-based replication products from DataCore Software, EMC or Veritas Software, among others.

The cluster is managed with iManager snapins, DirXML drivers and scripts. IManager is a Web-based management console that lets administrators manage Novell eDirectory and Novell products.

The Business Continuity Cluster also uses Novell's Virtual IP Address technology, which lets the IP addresses from different network subnets be shared for failover without confusion if they already use the same IP addresses.

A Virtual File System interface lets IT administrators create scripts that affect the systems' failover. In the future, the product is expected to conform to the Storage Management Interface Specification.

Novell's Business Continuity Cluster Services is one of the first multi-way clustering and replication products. Other companies such as EMC, Hewlett-Packard and IBM offer replication products that replicate data from one site to another. Xiotech Corp. offers n-way clustering with its Magnitude 3D.

The product is expected to ship in the first half of this year