CDP Delivers Backup Package

Prairie Packaging nixes SAN snapshots for Revivio's disk-based backup

January 13, 2006

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Prairie Packaging went looking for a SAN and wound up with a continuous data protection (CDP) system.

The Bedford Park, Ill.-based manufacturer of foam and plastic products started this serendipitous journey because it had too much important data on direct attached storage to retrieve from its tape backups in case of disaster. IT director Manny Singh says he wanted a SAN for snapshots to improve backups of about 1 Tbyte of data.

Singh looked at EMC Symmetrix and IBM Shark enterprise systems last November, and evaluated backup software from the leading vendors for snapshots. He found them all flawed. Prairies DAS setup includes servers from Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun, running Windows, Sun Solaris, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

SAN vendors couldn’t get their systems to work with all that, and Singh figured out snapshots weren’t the answer anyway for his Oracle databases and ERP systems. “We had to put Oracle in standby mode, and take the snapshot,” he says. “But we couldn’t do without Oracle for the five minutes we were in standby mode.”

Snapshots also leave gaps in protection. “If a corruption happens at 9:32, I want to go back to 9:31,” Singh says. “With snapshots, I had to go back to the last hour -- or do snapshots every minute, which isn’t realistic.”So he decided to check out CDP. The problem was, enterprise CDP was mostly talk back then. Revivio had a product, and EMC had just begun selling its RecoverPoint CDP software through an OEM deal with Mendocino Software. (See Applied Identity Adds $8M and EMC Pulls Forward With Backup.) Symantec had recently released Continuous Protection Server that it gained in the Veritas acquistion, and while Symantec calls it CDP, it is actually frequent snapshots. (See Microsoft and Symantec Cut SMB Tape.)

“Veritas said they had it, but it’s not CDP. And they wanted to charge $10,000 just to come in for a demo. We looked at EMC, but they were so new at CDP, their salespeople couldn’t tell us what it would do or wouldn’t do.”

Singh says Revivio’s Continuous Protection System (CPS) 1200 appliance lived up to the reputation CDP was gaining as a disk-based backup technology.

“I told all the vendors the same thing: You can bring your talent here to implement it, but it has to work here in our development lab,” he says. “In the Revivio demo, we picked a random time, and our guys could restore to that point in about five to 10 minutes.”

Prairie Packaging hasn’t had a crash since installing CDP in November, but Singh says he’s confident he can recover. CPS 1200 continuously stores changes made to Prairie’s most critical applications, and the manufacturing firm can roll back to any time to find the last good version. The CDP bill came to about $100,000.CDP is also the centerpiece of Prairie Packaging’s three-pronged backup strategy. Singh backs up about 1 Tbyte of “stuff we need to keep as current as possible” -- mostly Oracle database and ERP applications -– with CDP. He backs up about a week’s worth of email on Apple Xserve RAID systems before moving them off to tape. And non-critical data goes straight to tape.

When Prairie Packaging was still using tape only for nightly backups, a system crash or corruption could interrupt the business. “Take my system that manages inventory, for example,” Singh explains. “It tracks a widget from the time of manufacturing to the point of shipment. If we had a failure that night, we lost all the transactions that day. It could take days to get it back off tape.”

Prairie Packaging’s developers also use the Revivio appliance to test applications. Singh eventually hopes to add a Revivio box at a remote site and back up critical data that he can restore “in case of a complete catastrophe.”

There’s one thing he can’t do yet with CDP.

“I’d like to be able to rollback to a certain time to bring back more than one instance at a time. If I had saves at 12:00, 12:00 and two seconds, and 12:00 and three seconds, I’d like to mount all three at once. Now I can only mount one.”— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Mendocino Software

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Prairie Packaging

  • Rainfinity

  • Revivio Inc.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW)

  • Symantec Corp.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights