University Cuts the Tape

College IT department switches software, improves backup

May 18, 2005

2 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Having disk backup can mean the difference between disaster recovery -- and disaster.

Take the facilities management IT department at the University of Cincinnati. Not long ago, IT analyst Dominic Ferreri was struggling to back up his 15 servers onto a tape library. His backup software did not support disk-to-disk-to-tape yet, and Ferreri had to back everything up remotely to tape (see Veritas Announces New Software).

We had periodic interruptions with our network connectivity at the time, and it just wreaked havoc with our system,” he says. “Our full backup is over 500 Gbytes. When you have that order of magnitude, backups take a long time. Any time we tried to back up to a remote machine, if we had an interruption on the network, it would fail the job. It just died. We had a lot of failed backup jobs.”

A change of backup software to a package that supports disk-to-disk-to-tape has gotten Ferreri's department onto a new track -- and Ferreri himself off the hot seat.

Here are the particulars. Ferreri’s five-person department supports about 500 university employees in HR, procurement, and maintenance. To back up data needed for day-to-day operations, he runs a NAS with about 15 servers and 500 workstations from Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) and a tape library from Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL).A few months ago, Ferreri was looking to replace Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS) Backup Exec, which did not run disk-to-disk-to-tape backups at the time. (Veritas subsequently added the feature as part of its Backup Exec 10.0 in January 2005 -- see Veritas Announces New Software).

Apparently, Dell saw an ideal prospect in Ferreri when it began selling CommVault Systems Inc.'s Galaxy Express backup software for SMBs with its storage gear last year (see CommVault Locks In Dell and CommVault Touts SMB Customers ). Veritas's lull became CommVault's opportunity.

Ferreri says backups with Galaxy Express survive network interruptions. “When we reconnect, it just picks up where it left off and keeps going,” he says.

“Now we back up directly to disk [a 2 Tbyte array], and then archive to tape. We can back up to one particular location, and configure the system to automatically copy our backup sets to another site. That’s allowed us to do some things with mission continuity disaster planning in mind.”

Ferreri plans to add a disk cabinet in a building off the main campus for disaster recovery. “If something happened to our main data center, we’d have that data offset automatically."Backing up to disk has significantly improved recovery time, which is crucial when doing customer service. “There are times we’ve literally been able to restore data with the user on the phone. We improved customer service for everybody we support -- immensely. If you have to restore off tape, you’re talking a minimum of a half hour, and that’s if you’re lucky.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights