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Tape Backup Put to the Test

Test equipment company National Instruments has shaved more than $100,000 a year off its tape and IT staffing costs, thanks to a major overhaul of the backup and recovery systems at its headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Jeff Mery, National Instruments data center and enterprise storage manager, explained that rapid data growth forced the firm to rethink its backup strategy. The company, which does technology testing for the likes of Microsoft and Nokia, backs up 30 Tbytes of data a week, a figure that's on the rise. A recent upgrade from Oracle 10.7 to 11i, for example, accounts for a 40 percent hike in the data volumes.

In the past, National Instruments relied on a complex mix of tape technologies from a range of vendors while struggling to cope with the firm’s growth. These included StorageTek’s L180 library with 9840A drives, a Qualstar 46120 library with AIT-2 drives, and two Overland LibraryPro Libraries, also using AIT-2 drives.

For Mery, this technology mix was a constant source of concern. “The multi-vendor, multi-tape environment is increasingly complicated to manage,” he says, adding that the libraries were often pushed to their capacity limits. “Imagine every Christmas, you or one of your employees having to come in and actually add tapes or pull tapes out of libraries. It’s not too much fun.”

About two years ago, National Instruments decided to begin overhauling its tape infrastructure. The firm looked at tape technologies from a number of vendors, including StorageTek and Qualstar, before eventually opting for Overland’s NEO 8000 box with LTO-2 drives.

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