Out Of Harm's Way


"We were using Veritas Backup Exec, and it wasn't doing the job in terms of reliability. We wound up having to reinstall it a number of timesat one point [we had to reinstall] once a month. We would do a fresh install and lose all our history, which is a little irritating," said John Applewhaite, network manager for the City of Georgetown.

He wanted to have a system that could backup at least three weeks' worth of data and went looking for a replacement that would be more reliable in his environment. Applewhaite had decided to look at appliances, rather than solutions that combined hardware and software from separate vendors, to backup the city's systems.

Adding to the challenge, Georgetown was running several operating systems including Red Hat, SUSE Linux, Novell NetWare and Microsoft Windows. The city has over 300 users and workstations spread across multiple locations with systems that support computer-aided dispatch, 911 call recording, building security and city services.

Applewhaite's search lead him to the Revinetix Sentio 4400 disk-to-disk backup appliance. The Salt Lake City vendor in turn, called in IS Systems, a San Antonio-based solution provider to do the installation. Georgetown also purchased Revinetix's tape archive support software.

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IS Systems, which generates about $1 million in annual revenue, had never installed a Revinetix system, so the solution provider's first step was testing the appliance on its own.

"I did my own due diligence on Revinetix and asked for an evaluation [to find out] how hard the product would be to install, what kind of training would it take and what long-term management would there be for the end user," said Alex Pearson, president of IS Systems. "Right off the bat, I was impressed with the product. I had it up and running in about 20 minutes."

Touted as "disaster-proof," the Sentio 4400 is a total disk system that connects to every unit on a network and can hold 4.8 Tbytes of raw data. IS Systems brought the test unit to Georgetown, and the city did its own evaluation early last year.

"I was able to run backups, and it seemed to do pretty well. It was just a matter of finding the money to get it budgeted and get people interested in it. Our folks really hate to spend money, even if they think you need it," Applewhaite said.

It took several months for the city to approve the $28,000 purchase, and Georgetown had the Revinetix boxwith 4.7 Tbytes of usable storageup and running in November, just in time to avert a potential data disaster.

At about 1 a.m. on a Friday morning, the city's SAN failed. "About a month after I'd gotten the [Revinetix] unit, we had some air-conditioning problems that caused our SAN to crash, and we lost the data. I had to restore about 948 [Gbytes] backand it went pretty well. We were able to restore it in 31 hours," Applewhaite said.

About 150 Mbytes was lost due to a glitch when upgrading the financial system, but Applewhaite was pleased with the overall performance of the unit.

Applewhaite also was happy with his relationship with IS Systems.

"They're extremely patient. We had to pull money from several different sources. It got complicated, and it took us a long time to get a purchase order cut. They were very accommodating," Applewhaite said.

IS Systems has sold only the one Revinetix system so far, but Pearson said the solution provider would recommend the solution again and offered no complaints. "It went so painlessly. It went in well. The few hiccups that we did run across were taken care of immediately, and the learning curve setting up the device was minimal," he said.

The price also is right, he added. "The cost per gigabyte for [Revinetix's] storage is very reasonable as compared to even tape. It's fast, where tape is slower. Since this is a backup to disk, it goes very fast," Pearson said.

"It does exactly what it's supposed to do. I would recommend other VARs take a look at this product. It is a good, cost-effective solution for end users, which is the bottom line," Pearson said. "We make money by taking care of our customers."