CommVault Simpana lets Ellis Medicine centralize data backup and archiving

Ellis Medicine scraps Symantec Backup Exec, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and other products in favor of CommVault Simpana for backup and archiving from one console.

Ellis Medicine found out too much data backup can be a bad thing, at least when you have too many backup applications to tackle it.

The Schenectady, N.Y.-based hospital group used four backup products at one point before settling on CommVault Systems' Simpana for data backup and archiving, said network engineer Rodney Kowalczyk.

I have a big file share folder with two 400 gig LUNs attached to it. That would totally grow out of control if not for the archiving.

Rodney Kowalczyk,
network engineer, Ellis Medicine

Streamlining backup and archiving

Kowalczyk said it was a long road to a streamlined backup and archiving strategy. The hospital was using Symantec Corp. Backup Exec as its main data backup product before adding CommVault to handle Microsoft SharePoint. When Ellis installed a Siemens picture archiving and communication system (PACS) product in 2008, Siemens suggested IBM Corp. Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for backup and the hospital switched its main backup to TSM, and added an IBM tape library. It kept Backup Exec for some apps, and Ellis added a Unitrends backup appliance and Acronis software for bare-metal backups.

"So we had Symantec, CommVault, TSM, Unitrends and Acronis, and one guy managing all that with me backing him up," Kowalczyk said. "He was getting kind of upset, going to all these different consoles and calling different companies for support. He said, 'We need to go to one solution here.'"

By then, Ellis Medical switched PAC vendors from Siemens to Amicus so it wasn't locked into TSM. Kowalczyk said he evaluated all of his existing applications plus EMC Corp. NetWorker because Ellis is an EMC storage shop.

"We wanted an enterprise-wide solution that would fit in one console. We realized CommVault could back up SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, Oracle, AIX, Windows and mailboxes -- everything we wanted to do," he said. "And it connects to our EMC storage [Clariion and Centera], and our tape libraries."

Ellis is running Simpana 8 on a CommServe, a MediaAgent and a few virtual machines and clients, and Simpana 7 for the rest. Ellis still uses Acronis for bare-metal recovery of servers but CommVault is used with all storage.

Kowalczyk said he uses CommVault's data archiving policies to move any data not touched for a year automatically to his Clariion CX4-240 storage array for one year, and then to the Centera content-addressable storage (CAS) system for good.

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"We have a lot of SQL and a lot of Exchange," he said. "I have a big file share folder with two 400 gig LUNs attached to it. That would totally grow out of control if not for the archiving."

Kowalczyk said he has approximately 27 TB of data to backup, almost evenly split between disk and the 300-slot IBM tape library. The hospital group has 30 VMware ESXi virtual machines and about 200 total servers.

Kowalczyk said his biggest backup challenge is "to make sure everything finishes during off hours at night, which aren't really off hours in a hospital. With Simpana 7 that was an issue, but it's improved now. Simpana 8 is twice as fast. When I come in in the morning, I want to see everything finished. Usually it is, although sometimes we have a problem with WAN links."

Kowalczyk said he's interested in the upcoming Simpana 9, but "we'll wait until at least one service pack comes out." Automated licensing is one of the features expected in Simpana 9, which should help him.

"Licensing is a little confusing now," he said of his current versions of Simpana. "All our systems run with McAfee. With so many licenses, we have to make sure when we purchase something, we purchase everything we need. If we add a tape library, what license do we need?"

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