Cummins Inc.

Power systems company cuts backup windows with SAN-based tape backup

September 2, 2002

3 Min Read
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Power systems company Cummins Inc. was seeing growing mounds of data starting to eclipse what its backup environment could handle -- so it pulled the plug on its direct-attached SCSI tape libraries and moved to SAN-based backup.

At the end of 2001, Cummins's storage environment was approaching 17 Tbytes, and its IT staff was straining to run a full backup in less than a week. "Our backup was running literally around the clock," says Art Bitts, a senior systems engineer at Cummins.

Based in Columbus, Ind., Cummins designs and manufactures electrical power generation systems. The company, which has 24,900 employees worldwide, had $5.7 billion in sales in 2001.

It has about 300 servers located at its Indiana headquarters and nearby manufacturing plants, most running Windows NT and a few running Sun Solaris or Compaq Tru64. Those servers host a mix of applications, including Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) databases, Web servers, file shares, and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

The bulk of its storage -- which is now approaching 25 Tbytes -- is in a pair of Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Lightning 9960s, plus a 9980V that it recently brought online. The arrays and servers are attached to a Fibre Channel SAN with a total of about 370 ports, a combination of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) SilkWorm 2800 (1-Gbit/s) and 3800 (2-Gbit/s) switches, plus one 2-Gbit/s 12000. Chris Price, Cummins's computing services director, explains why it bought the 12000: "The interconnections between switches were taking a lot of the ports, so we adopted a hub-and-spoke approach with the 12000."To back up the SAN data, Cummins had previously been using a pair of Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) TimberWolf 9710 tape libraries, each with ten DLT 7000 tape drives. Those were connected via SCSI to a single Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) NetBackup master server.

In a nutshell, Cummins was maxing out its StorageTek libraries. "They had done us very well, but our existing backup solution was at capacity."

In January 2002, the IT group evaluated the tape technologies on the market. Its first decision was to drop DLT, the tape format developed by Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS), and adopt the LTO format, which is backed by IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Seagate Technology Inc.

"We decided that for our environment, LTO made the best sense moving forward," Bitts says. "[The advantage] is a combination of LTO's capacity and performance, and the roadmap for the future. The first-generation LTO tape drives are 15 Mbyte/s and 100 Gig per tape."

Once it had settled on LTO, Cummins narrowed down its selection of tape libraries and ultimately picked the Advanced Digital Information Corp. (Nasdaq: ADIC) Scalar 10K, configured with 35 IBM LTO drives, which is connected to the 2-Gbit/s Brocade switch fabric.The result? Cummins says it has in many cases cut its backup windows in half.

"In the larger Oracle servers, the time it took for a full backup went from 12 to 14 hours to five to six hours," Bitts says.

What has helped shorten backup times is that the ADIC Scalar 10K has more tape drives than do the StorageTek libraries Cummins was using before, so the tape library can devote more resources to a single backup job. Another advantage is that servers connected to the Brocade SAN fabric are able to back themselves up directly. Previously, all of the backup traffic had to go over the Gigabit Ethernet network to the Veritas media server, and then to the DLT drives.

Besides performance improvements, an important factor that weighed in the decision, Price says, was ADIC's pay-as-you-grow option for the Scalar 10K: The unit has about 3,000 cartridge slots, but Cummins opted to buy a license for 1,800. "As we need additional tape slot capacity, we can pay the next increment," Price says.

And he definitely expects to need that additional space: "We used to see 50 percent growth rate over time in our storage. Now we're seeing 100 percent annual growth rate."Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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