Softek, part of the Fujitsu group, has announced one new and two enhanced replication products that cover three environments: Windows; Unix; and mainframe z/OS, and three scenarios. With replication each data write to a disk is done a second time to another disk as part of a disaster recovery and/or backup strategy where minimal data loss is allowable. Mirroring is done where no data loss is allowable.

Softek Replicator is the new product, running on z/OS, Windows, AIX, HP-UX, Linux and Solaris, and supporting any storage array, such as those from EMC, HDS, H-P, IBM, StorageTek or a commodity JBOD supplier. It replicates data writes to one drive array or disk to another across an IP link. The replication is done at host level, not by the drive array controller. EMC's SRDF is a controller-based replicator only working with EMC arrays. Softek Replicator, as it is host-based, is independent of the drive arrays and controller firmware.

Softek TDMFis an enhanced product that provides migration facilities to move data from an existing disk array to a new one. It is available for the same hosts and addresses the same arrays as TDMF.

Softek Storage Provisioner consolidates storage arrays into centralised and tiered pools. It also mirrors data in a SAN. Mirroring is typically done at drive array or SAN level as it is synchronous with a write operation not being complete unless both main and copy disk writes have been done. Replication is asynchronous with writes to the copy volume being done using an IP link. This means that if the main disk goes down a couple of I/Os could be lost as they are still 'in the network'. Where this cannot be tolerated then mirroring is better. Replication enables users to roll-back a copy to a point in time before, for example, a virus attack, which mirroring cannot do. Replication can be cheaper tham mirroring as you only replicate files or databases of interest instead of mirroring entire disk volumes.

By extending Softek's mainframe-based replication technology to Unix and Windows servers, "We're bringing replication to the masses," said Chris James, european marketing director. A cost is that host cpu cycles are used as each write is done twice.

Replicator and TDMF run on the Red Hat Linux distribution. SuSE and Mandrake distributions will be supported in later releases. AIX's JFS file system is supported which, Softek claims, is unique.

Softek Replicator, available in December, is priced from £1,200 per Unix/Windows server and from £17,000 for z/OS. Softek Provisioner is £14,000 per server engine. Typically copies are needed on two servers for complete data protection. TDMF pricing is determined by customer-defined variables, including the number of installed systems running the software, amount of data migrated or time period for migration.

The announcement means that disaster recovery and backup choices are widened for enterprise and medium-sized customers.