If you ever wondered why remote data replication is useful, the explosion at Hemel Hempstead this week has helped clarify matters.

The European HQ of 3Com was damaged in the blast, but said its backup systems should result in minimal impact. Other IT companies have not been so lucky.

Remote site replication can be expensive, but, with fortuitous timing, BakBone has just released affordable replication software.

NetVault: Replicator creates real-time copies of data in remote sites. It combines synchronous mirroring security with journalling by replicating byte-level data changes to the remote site over an IP network.

Bakbone said it offers a high level of data availability without the usual trade-offs in operating cost or limited platform support. There are plug-in modules for Exchange, SQL, Oracle and MySQL. Replication can be scheduled or done in real time. Its operation can be integrated with other Bakbone backup, recovery and reporting products.

Gartner expects disasters such as Buncefield to help drive demand for replication products. It predicts the market will grow from $1.4 billion in 2004 to $2.6 billion by 2009.

Pricing for NetVault: Replicator per host node starts at £850 for Windows, £1,700 for Linux and £3,400 for Unix.