Chip Design Firm Scuttles Tape

Software firm goes all-disk for backup, envisions tape-free enterprise

October 11, 2006

3 Min Read
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Synopsys is de-duplicating its way to a tape-free backup environment and closing in on booting tape completely.

The IT manager at the firm, which makes software for designing semiconductors, says he's gone through a combination of Data Domain de-duplication appliances and EMC and Network Appliance primary storage. The result, says Pethuraj Perumal, has been to improve backup reliability and manageability.

It all started late last year, when Synopsys deployed a Data Domain DD460 appliance with 4 Tbytes of capacity at the firm's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. Things went so well that Perumal's group eventually rolled out six smaller DD430 appliances with 2 Tbytes each at six field sites where Synopsys keeps local data.

Perumal says Synopsys uses Data Domain to back up the company's critical applications -- except for Exchange, which he backs up on his Network Appliance SAN. He still uses tape for archiving, but says it's just a matter of time until that's done on disk as well.

"We are heading there," he says of a tapeless enterprise. "Over the last year, I did all disk-based backup. I didn't buy any tape. Next year I'll look for disk-based archiving. For now, we'll keep tapes for archiving."Perumal says he was looking for faster and more reliable backup than he was getting from his StorageTek tape libraries. He knew about the de-duplication technology that Data Domain uses to compress data, but was skeptical of the vendor's early claims about how much it would reduce his backup load. (See De-Dupers Lining Up, Insider: De-Dupe Demystified, and De-Dupers Demand Disk Mindset.) Even without certaintly about how much the compression would help, Perumal chose Data Domain over an Overland REO disk system.

"They said we would get 25 to 1 compression," Perumal remembers. "We were really suspicious and thought, 'If it gives us eight or 10x compression, that would be great.' It gave us 22 to 1 for one site, and at least 18 to 1 in the other sites."

He says besides improving backup reliability and speed, he saved around $200,000 while simplified management and support.

"We haven't had any failures, so far," he says. "Our old tape drives were giving us a lot of trouble. We also saved a lot of money. Previously, we had [Sun] StorageTek libraries, [Symantec] Veritas software, and Dell backup servers. The solution was based on three vendors' products, and I needed hardware and software support from all of them. Now I only have Data Domain. I dont have to worry about multiple vendors or anything else."

One more thing he doesn’t have to worry about -- flak from his staff. Besides two domestic sites, Synopsys uses Data Domain appliances in development offices Chile, China, Finland, and South Korea."I used to get complaints all the time from admins on conference calls from our field sites," Perumal says. "Now nobody says anything about backup problems."

Now he's considering adding Data Domain's newly released DD560 appliance, which scales to 22.5 Tbytes raw capacity. (See Data Domain Goes Array Route.) He's testing the DD560, and if that works out, Perumal says he'll probably replicate between appliances.

One place Synopsys doesn’t use Data Domain is email. Perumal says he used his DD460 to back up Exchange at first, but the Synopsys Exchange store outgrew the appliance when the firm increased its users' quotas. Now Synopsys uses Network Appliance SnapVault to replicating Snapshot copies to disk.

"Exchange is a different beast," Perumal says. "You need single mailbox recovery and other requirements. It's a huge amount of data to back up, and the Exchange file changes every minute.”

— Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Synopsys Inc.0

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