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Casino Rolls the Dice With a VTL

Foxwoods Casino and Resort was experiencing torturously slow restoral times and aggravating mechanical failures with its tape backup system. So, the resort determined that a change was necessary. Although replacing its tape system represented a significant six-figure investment, the resort decided to go ahead and deploy a virtual tape library (VTL).

Foxwoods, which has 11,000 employees, operates six casinos that house more than 7,000 slot machines and 400 tables for 17 different types of table games. More than 40,000 guests visit the resort each day, staying at the Grand Pequot Tower, the Great Cedar Hotel, the Two Trees Inn, or the MGM Grand at Foxwoods. The resort is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, so the IT staff is responsible for serving another 1,200 employees that provide municipal services, such as fire department and E911 communications, to the community.

A lot of hardware is needed to support the various operations. Foxwoods runs about 400 servers -- most run Windows, but there is also a mix of IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, and Linux servers. The various devices generate about 100 TB of information each day.

In early 2005, the resort was having problems with its tape backup system, an IBM 3494 tape library featuring 3590E drives. "Restore times could take as long as 24 hours, which was unacceptable," says Michael Grillo, principal engineer at Foxwoods. That amount of time was needed when a when a major problem such as a database management system crash took place.

Compounding the issue was the tape backup system's unreliability. "We were having four or five failures a month with the drives," Grillo says. "In some cases, a sensor would misread the tape and mark all tapes as invalid, so our technicians had to go back in, figure out what was wrong and then fix such problems."

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