Case Study: Eagle's Backup Soars At Nebraska Medical Cente

While the center had recently implemented a SAN with an EMC Clariion array, many of the organization's 130-or-so Windows servers were being backed up to individual tape drives, while others were centralized in small groups of five to seven units for backing up via a tape drive on a single server.

Meanwhile, the ArcServe backup and restore software being used by the center was no longer keeping up with the volume of data, said Rick Miller, director of technical service.

The Nebraska Medical Center consulted with several software developers to find the best medicine for its backup management headaches, and eventually settled on the Backup Express application from SyncSort.


>> COMPANY: Eagle Software, Salina, Kan.
>> FOCUS: Storage
>> Problem and Solution: The Nebraska Medical Center needed to consolidate the backing up of 130 servers. The solution was the Installation of an on-site tape library and off-site backup.>> PRODUCTS and SERVICES USED: Spectra Logic Fibre Channel Gator 12K tape library, SyncSort Backup Express software, Fibre Channel and Ethernet backbone
> Consider capacity-on-demand storage equipment
> Customers appreciate a single point of contact.

SyncSort, based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., passed the lead to solution provider Eagle Software, Salina, Kan. Dave Hiechel, president and CEO of Eagle Software, said his company met with the center in January 2002 to prescribe Backup Express software in conjunction with a Spectra Logic Gator 12K tape library featuring AIT-3 tape drives.

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While the 12K library has a maximum capacity of eight drives and 120 tape cartridges, the center started out that March with only two drives and 60 slots thanks to the solution's capacity-on-demand capability, Hiechel said. "With capacity on demand, customers don't need to buy all they need at one time, but instead they have the ability to grow as they need," he said.

As a result, the Nebraska Medical Center was able to start out with an entry-level version of the library and then add more capability as budgets would allow. "It becomes easier to budget for XYZ project if the plan calls for just adding an extra drive instead of budgeting for all new equipment for a big project like disaster recovery," Hiechel said.

That is exactly what the center has done. The organization acquired its third drive in June 2002 and purchased three additional drives throughout February 2003. Two more were bought in July, filling out the array.

"It's not common to do such quick drive upgrades," Hiechel said. "Most people buy once a year. Rick was buying once every 30 days at times."

The 12K installation has been in a state of constant upgrading, including the addition of a second set of 60 cartridge slots to max the library's capacity. On the software side, the Nebraska Medical Center acquires Windows, Unix and Linux drivers as needed. And last summer, the library was upgraded with software to enable it to back up servers on a SAN via a Brocade Communications Fibre Channel switch rather than do point-to-point backups with specific servers.

Eagle Software also sold and implemented a second Spectra Logic library, a Treefrog model 2K with a maximum capacity of two AIT-3 drives and 30 cartridge slots. This second unit was set up at a backup site on the Nebraska Medical Center campus for disaster-recovery purposes. The center tests the second library monthly by doing a full restore from tapes backed up from the library.

Throughout all the upgrades, Eagle Software helped with much of the implementation and training and found it necessary to go on-site only in a few cases. "Most problems we could talk through on the phone," Hiechel said. "As the customer needed more drives, for instance, we sent him drives prepackaged on their sleds for installation. %85 All configuration could be done by the user in about 15 minutes."

Miller said he prefers to buy hardware directly from vendors such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell because of cost and service requirements, but prefers to deal with solution providers when it comes to software and add-on services.

"I like the arrangement we have [with Eagle Software, Spectra Logic and SyncSort] for support," Miller said. "If there is a backup problem, we call SyncSort. If there is a tape problem, we call Spectra Logic. But if we don't know where the problem is, we call Eagle Software. It's nice to know where to go. Eagle Software has been very responsive."

The job is not yet done. The center plans to start upgrading its 12K library this year as AIT-4 drives become available, and in the next six or seven years, most likely will add AIT-5 drives, Hiechel said.