Case Study: Unitrends Has Good Things In Store For Ham Radio League

That mailbox, though unused, was being backed up regularly along with practically every bit of digital data created by the organization,all 100-plus Gbytes of it,creating a potential disaster for the ARRL and its IT manager, Don Durand. "We store anything and everything we receive," he said. "After working for years with ham [operators], I can say, they never throw anything out."

>>%A0 The ARRL, run by more than 160,000 ham radio aficionados, can now back up more than 100 Gbytes of data.

The ARRL's stored data includes e-mails and large SQL databases for the organization's membership and back-office systems, Durand said. Its previous backup strategy, which depended on Computer Associates International's ARCserve software and 12 DLTtape drives of varying capacity and age, could not keep up with day-to-day needs, he said.

One issue: Because of the amount of data, the ARRL found it no longer had enough time in the day to do backups, Durand said. A full backup might take up to 18 hours, and doing the backup during business hours was out of the question. "We tried it once, and it took one hour for an e-mail to get sent," he said.

Seeking a more manageable backup strategy, Durand contacted Unitrends Software, developer of the hard-disk-based Data Protection Unit (DPU) backup appliance, which in turn passed the lead to solution provider Data Storage Depot.

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Gary Schwartz, president of the Bethel, Conn.-based company, determined that the DPU with 360 Gbytes of capacity would be the right product for the client's backup needs. The DPU also fit Data Storage Depot's sales model, he said. The solution provider focuses on storage hardware and builds many of the RAID and non-RAID arrays it sells. "Our typical customer is self-supporting, with its own in-house IT support staff and their own software," Schwartz said.

Before the DPU was delivered to the ARRL, Data Storage Depot configured the software, including Unitrends' BareMetal Plus disaster-recovery software. The solution provider also provided assistance in connecting the device to the ARRL's servers.


>> SOLUTION PROVIDER: Data Storage Depot
>> Text goes here for a callout that will four to five lines>> FOCUS: Custom-built storage hardware solutions
>> Problem and Solution: Data Storage Depot replaced the American Radio Relay League's hodgepodge of tape drives with a more manageable backup system.
>> PRODUCTS and SERVICES USED: Data Protection Unit (DPU) and BareMetal Plus from Unitrends Software
> A technologically savvy ally at the customer organization can help champion an integrator's cause.
> Talking to the customer about future plans could open the way to new business.
%A0> For example, the solution provider found an additional use for the DPU appliance: desktop PC imaging.

Currently, the ARRL's SQL database production server is backed up on an incremental basis to the DPU. Then, on a regular basis, a full backup is triggered from the DPU to the company's report server, which allows users to generate reports on the latest data without affecting the production server's performance.

During his work with the DPU, Schwartz said he found another use for the appliance not identified by Unitrends: desktop PC imaging. Like most organizations, the ARRL wants to deploy standard software configurations,including partitions, applications and files,quickly to its PCs, Schwartz said. He found that it is possible to set aside one hard drive on the DPU for a configuration image that can be downloaded to a new PC, cutting the rollout time for a batch of PCs to hours instead of days.

"We came up with this application when [Durand] started talking about his plans to roll out some new PCs," Schwartz said. "His eyes just lit up."

Schwartz said his work with ARRL was especially satisfying due to his own love of amateur radio.

"I have been an ARRL member for 30 years, but I never visited their [] site," he said. "When I went there, I found out that everyone in the organization, except the IT department, is into this hobby. Don is one of the very people we talked to in the past few years that is so technically savvy. He can get management to understand that such-and-such technology is good for three years, and then it will be necessary to change to this next technology."