Carl Ditloff was spending more time on backup than he wanted to.
“I was personally working four hours every day just trying to manage all the local users, doing diagnostics and supervising tape changes,” says Ditloff, a network and support Engineer at Melbourne-based Schiavello, a manufacturer of workstations, seating, storage, demountable partitions and wall systems, and occasional furniture elements.
And that was just at the rapidly-growing company’s headquarters, where SQL Server, SharePoint and Exchange data comprise some of the 8TB of data situated on four physical servers. 30 virtualised servers, under Citrix XenServer, are also present. All data is backed up to an EMC SAN and, at regular intervals, to LTO tape.
“We currently backup up onto disk and then tape doing nightly incrementals and weekend fulls, with the fulls going to tape every week,” Ditloff explains.
The business’ other sites – Schiavello operates at around ten sites in Australia and three overseas offices – also need backup and Ditloff struggled there too, as while each was equipped with a file server that backup up to direct-attached tape he could never be sure if backups were being completed.
“We could not do centralised management and everything had to be checked manually. There was a big administration burden.”
This worried Ditloff.
“You do want to sleep at night,” he says, and the Symantec software the company used wasn’t helping him to get much shuteye. He therefore decided on new storage management software to get the single management console he wanted ad settled on CommVault Simpana.
Simpana quickly addressed the management chores that concerned Ditloff and he now says he can “… control all the media, we can also use one screen for all management including reports by all divisions and offices, disk staging and disk backup reports, and central management for all offices and divisions.” The company still ships tapes from its remote offices to headquarters, but is now confident they contain complete backups.
That win alone is saving the company a heap of time and helping Ditloff to snooze more deeply, but he has also taken advantage of the new software to improve the company’s ability to recover from disasters, using Simpana’s features which backup virtual machines.
“Backing up the traditional way from within the guest OS is a bit redundant because you do not get a complete snapshot of the virtual machine (VM),” he says. “We wanted to get the whole VM: when we restored, we used to build a new VM and then rebuild into it. Backing up the VMs in their entirety means restore time is reduced.”
Data deduplication has also paid off.
“Tests show we are achieving close to six times more data on disk and tape with dedupe active, which gives us a huge windfall in infrastructure savings,” Ditloff says.
Ditloff says the combination of central backup management and faster restore of virtual machines represents “Peace of mind.”
“It means we can get on with bigger things and not spend all the time focussed on backups.”
Some of those bigger things include archiving: the company is thinking about enabling Simpana’s features in this arena to tackle its mountain of unstructured data.
“When implemented, these data management features will give our company a huge business benefit,” Ditloff says, adding that he can already count savings of “… at least one yearly salary cost by switching from Symantec.”
This was first published in May 2011