DMV Green Lights Remote Backup

Turns to disk backup to eliminate tape at 73 remote offices

September 7, 2006

3 Min Read
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The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has driven much of the complexity and cost out of backups by removing tape from its remote customer service sites. And backup administrator Mike DePhillip is looking to build on that success.

DePhillip wanted to eliminate tape at all of the motor vehicle customer service centers around the state without increasing costs. He was using CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup and considered EMC Legato and Symantec NetBackup before settling on Avamar's Axion. (See Test Run: Avamar's Axion 3.5.)

DePhillip had several backup challenges. He had 73 customer service centers without dedicated IT staff. He also had sensitive customer data and workstations running Sun Solaris 2.51, a version so old he couldn't modify the boxes to add backup software.

He was also looking to cut costs, so buying 73 new workstations was out of the question.

"It's hard to get management to spend $10,000 per workstation per customer data center," he says. "We took the old workstations, installed Linux, threw an Avamar client on at headquarters, and shipped them out to the customer service center. Linux thinks the Solaris 2.51 box is just a drive letter."He also wanted to save money on his backup application. He says the Avamar Axion and Replicator software running on two Hewlett-Packard servers cost around $120,000, while backup software from the larger competitors would have run around $200,000. "My yearly maintenance on ArcServ is $48,000. Avamar charges $14,000 per year."

So that takes care of the financials. What about the backup process?

"Before, we were using local tape drives at each site," DePhillip says. "The manager had to remember to swap tapes. It would take five hours a night to back up to tape, and the courier service would come in and take the tapes. Now all of that comes over a WAN link at night. We don't have to buy tapes, rely on managers to swap tapes, or give sensitive data to a courier service."

He says it takes about four hours to back up the 73 customer service centers over "T1 links and slower, all the way down to 56k connections."

DePhillip credits the new speediness to Avamar's data de-duplication features, which compress data, reducing the amount sent over the wire. (See Insider: De-Dupe Demystified and De-Dupers Demand Disk Mindset.) "I had a database that was well over 80 gigs, and it turned that into 30 gigs of real data after it went through the chunking process and broke it down. Then it backs up only changes after that. And I dont have to muck with it."DePhillip is still mucking with tape in his data center now, though, to back up most of the 27 Tbytes of data stored on his EMC Clariion CX700. But he regularly backs up his main database and other critical data to the Avamar appliances. He's preparing to set up a disaster recovery site, add two more Avamar boxes, and replicate data from those devices in his data center.

"Once we get the DR site up," he says, "we'll be tapeless."

— Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Avamar Technologies Inc.

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • World Cellular Information Service (WCIS)

  • Symantec Corp.

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