State of Indiana Office of Technology

Symantec's PureDisk eliminates need for tape at more than 300 state government sites

October 12, 2006

4 Min Read
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As part of a mandate to centralize and consolidate IT infrastructure, the state of Indiana is using Symantec NetBackup PureDisk to overhaul its backup management and provide disaster recovery for more than 300 remote sites.

"The past 18 months we've been working on consolidation of our infrastructure by mandate of the governor," says Jim Rose, systems administration manager for the State of Indiana Office of Technology. "By infrastructure, we mean base-level service such as email, file services, authentication, and Active Directories. One aspect of that was support of our PCs and servers in remote offices."

Rose targeted remote offices with servers in them -- more than 300 of the roughly 1,000 offices providing state services in Indiana -- as ideal targets for centralized backups and saving money. More than 200 of those offices were running Windows with a single Active Directory with Symantec Backup Exec and backing up to local tape drives.

You can guess the problems: Non-IT personnel supervised backups, and critical data was stored only at the remote office.

"There were a couple of instances we had complete data loss within a specific facility," Rose says. "A few times an office burned down, and so did all the tapes and the server with it. Other times, we couldn't do restores because the person hadn't rotated the tape properly or didn't manage a backup properly, and one of the tape drives failed."There was another problem. Rose wanted to switch 60 or so offices running Novell over to Windows, which meant he would have had to buy new tape drives along with servers for each of them.

So he set out to accomplish three goals for the remote sites: to provide disaster recovery, improve support, and save money by getting rid of tape.

Rose says the state IT department was a Veritas shop since before Symantec acquired it last year, running NetBackup in the data center and Backup Exec on the remote Windows servers. To solve his remote problems, he considered PureDisk for remote offices when it launched in March as wide area file services (WAFS) (See Symantec Dips Into De-Dupe, Users Rally Round Remote Solutions, and No Easy Fix for Branch Office Blues.)

That option was quickly rejected. He says WAFS would have cost more because instead of replacing the servers only in the Novell sites, he would have had to add WAFS appliances in more than 300 remote offices.

"The cost of implementation would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars for WAFS," he says. He says some of the applications some of the remote sites used wouldn't run with WAFS either.Symantec charges $16,000 per Tbyte of stored data with PureDisk, and the state has combined 3.3 Tbytes of storage spread over 250 servers in its remote offices. Rose installed PureDisk as agents on those servers, and replicates to the state's main data center.

PureDisk uses data de-duplication technology to compress data, speeding transmission times and reducing the amount of data that needs to be replicated across the WAN to the central data center. (See De-Dupers Demand Disk Mindset.) This removes the need for tape at the remote sites.

Rose estimates he would have about 9.24 Tbytes in his content database without compression -- 3.3 Tbytes with a daily change rate of 1.5 percent over 120 days since implementing Pure Disk. Now he has 1.8 Tbytes in his content database. "I would estimate we are getting roughly 5x compression," he says.

PureDisk, based on technology Veritas picked up from DCT in 2005, is a first-generation product that lacks some of the features of its smaller competitors such as Asigra, Avamar, and Data Domain. (See Veritas Archives Another Startup.) But Rose likes its roadmap, which includes integration with Net Backup that will let him reduce the capacity stored on PureDisk.

"We had about a two-month return on investment on PureDisk," Rose says. "I estimate we already saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in not having to buy tapes and tape drives for new servers."He forecasts centralizing backup will eventually save between $1 million and $2 million in administrative and acquisition costs, plus gives the state disaster recovery.

Most of the offices with PureDisk are off tape completely, and he expects all of them to be without tape soon. That won't be the case in his data center, though, even with a Sun StorageTek virtual tape library running alongside his StorageTek tape library.

"Being a state government, I think there always will be a need for tape," he says. "Technologies are all over the place to go disk to disk, but we have to support legacy apps for our mainframe and with the amount of data we have with compliance requirements, we'll have tape for at least five to 10 years."

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Asigra Inc.

  • Avamar Technologies Inc.

  • Data Domain Inc. (Nasdaq: DDUP)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW)

  • Symantec Corp.

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