Saw a blog the other day that got the old grey matter ticking. It asked the simple question ‘Can replication replace backup?’ Various industry insiders gave their views, so here’s mine. I’ve no doubt that with the advent of cloud computing business owners will change their back-up and replication regimes but some won’t give up old habits without a fight. Why? Well here goes:

1 Replication isn’t the same as backing up: That’s a key difference. Replication and backup are totally different technologies. This difference is an important one. However, I think this difference will matter less with the shift to online or cloud computing.

2 Backing up is a mental issue: It’s like turning the gas off or renewing your insurance. You just instinctively know backing up makes sense. Business users are used to the hard luck stories of companies who don’t have a back up regime in place getting things wrong. Replication doesn’t quite work like that and it will take a while for our brains to get used to relying on it.

3 Backing up is a physical issue: Businesses traditionally have performed a daily task of ‘doing the backups’ and archiving them for a set number of days with a rotation of media. This process has been sufficient for most cases. So there will be some resistance from people who say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

4 Backing up is a trust issue: Businesses have an instinctive need for data on to be on some kind of physical media device. They feel comfortable because they can see it, touch it and hear it grinding away. They want a box that holds all their business “critical” data. It’s a trust thing.

5 Replication means duplication: Replication has become increasing popular as it gives businesses another option should there be a failure with storage. However, there’s a down side — the amount of storage required. Very often it is double or even three times what the business actually requires.

6 The future is out there: Right now Backup and Replication go hand in hand. In the future I reckon the daily backup will become obsolete as the new online technologies take over. These will allow businesses the chance to work when and where they want. What’s happening now is that IT is moving online. The need for physical boxes within businesses will fade and thus so to will the need for replication. As for backup, that too will move away from the traditional tape drives to an online service.

7 Take a lesson from our private lives: If all this sounds a bit too next generation scary then we need to look at how much happier we are when it comes to adopting new technologies in our private lives and then accept them in business. We’ve all been using Hotmail, Yahoo and other remote e-mail addresses for years now without a problem. We love our MP3 players and we download music online and while our “hosted” accounts remember our history of purchases. Like it  or not, we live in a digital world!