Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with EMC Isilon SyncIQ

To prepare for disaster scenarios, such as an unplanned outage that can potentially compromise your data, you need a solution that creates and safely stores copies of your data.

EMC Isilon SyncIQ is Isilon’s data replication software and a key element of a robust data protection and disaster recovery solution. SyncIQ works with the underlying snapshot technology of EMC Isilon SnapshotIQ software to copy data blocks that change between replications. The replication process is completed quickly and with minimal disruption.

In this video, Principal Solutions Architect Amol Choukekar, answers frequently asked questions about SyncIQ. Watch this video to gain a basic understanding of the technical concepts and functionality of SyncIQ. For more information, contact your EMC Isilon account representative.

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Video Transcript

Hello. This is Amol Choukekar, Principal Solutions Architect with EMC Isilon storage division.

Today, I’m going to talk about EMC Isilon SyncIQ and how it helps in implementing a disaster recovery and data protection strategy.

In this video, we’ll talk about EMC Isilon SyncIQ’s design features, basic functionality, and the operations associated with it.

SyncIQ is EMC Isilon’s data replication feature.

It is a licensed feature of OneFS and it replicates data from one cluster to another cluster, asynchronously, over a standard LAN or WAN connection.

SyncIQ allows creating user-defined policies that can be scheduled to replicate data to meet data recovery point objectives.

SyncIQ maintains the integrity of data by copying the data as well as the metadata, like permissions associated with files and directories.

SyncIQ uses underlying snapshot technology that performs block-based delta copies between replications.

This results in tremendous WAN bandwidth savings and shrinks the time needed to keep the data in sync between two clusters.

SyncIQ is typically set up to replicate data from a single source cluster to a single target cluster in a one-to-one relationship.

However, SyncIQ is capable of replicating from a single source cluster to multiple target clusters in a one-to-many relationship.

As we can see in this example here, we have a dataset, D1, replicating to both cluster 2 and cluster 3 in a one-to-many relationship.

At the same time, we can see that we have cluster 1 and cluster 3 with independent datasets participating in a SyncIQ relationship in a bi-directional fashion.

Thus, we can say that SyncIQ can perform one-to-one, one-to-many, and bi-directional replication with independent datasets.

Starting with EMC Isilon OneFS 7.0, SyncIQ functionality has been enhanced for ease of failover and failback.

Now, let’s take a look at the operations associated with SyncIQ.

As we can see in the example on the whiteboard here, we have a production side and we have a disaster recovery side. We have data on the production side in read-write mode and we have data on the disaster recovery side as read-only. This is marked read-only to maintain the integrity of the data.

Now, let’s talk about failover. Failover can be temporary or failover can be permanent in case of a disaster.

Now, let’s talk about a temporary failover. For example, a DR testing scenario.

What is failover? Failover is nothing but marking the target directory on the disaster recovery side as read-write.

Now, let’s say in case this was temporary, and we are done with the disaster recovery test, we wrote some data, D2, as in this example, and we want to continue the normal operation as it was before.

What would need to happen is a process called as a “failover revert”.

What is failover revert? Failover revert is nothing but discarding the changes that were written while we were in a read-write state and marking the target side back as read-only so that normal processing can continue.

Now, what happens in case of an actual disaster?

You would have your production side inaccessible.

You’ll initiate a failover process which marks the target side as read-write and you would point your clients to the target side or the disaster recovery side, and you continue writing new data to it, D2, D3, in this case.

Let’s say after a period of time, the production side comes back up and we want to go back to the original production, there’s a couple of processes that need to happen.

While we were on the disaster recovery side, we wrote some new data, which is significant data now.

That needs to get copied back to the production side and that is done through what is called as a “failback” process.

So, what is a failback process? Failback process is reversing the direction of the SyncIQ policy and copying all the changes from the disaster recovery side to the production side.

So you would have your D2 and your D3 copied to the production side.

Once that is done, a normal failover can be initiated, where we can mark the production side as read-write and we can continue your normal operations in the same direction from production to disaster recovery side and mark disaster recovery side back as read-only and continue replicating data to it.

As we saw in this video, SyncIQ provides powerful functionality for disaster recovery and data protection.

If you have any further questions about SyncIQ and would like to implement SyncIQ in your environment, please feel free to contact your EMC account team or EMC Business Partner.

Thank you for watching.

About the Author: Kirsten Gantenbein