After Magnum Semiconductor Inc. acquired LSI Corp.'s consumer products group last summer, it found itself with almost seven times as much data to back up to tape as it had previously.
John Wunder, Magnum's director of IT, realized soon after acquisition that the company couldn't make its backup window using tape.
"When we bought a division of LSI, we brought over a 17 TB data set," Wunder said. "We had 3 TB before that. We were using two technologies, LTO-3 and an older one, SDLT. Backing up to tape was slow but sufficient with 3 TB, but with the LSI data it wasn't even close."
What's an IT director to do? Dedupe, of course.
Wunder said he had been keeping his eye on data deduplication for a while and checked out products from Data Domain and Seagate Technologies subsidiary EVault, but he didn't think they scaled well enough to help.
Magnum goes VTL route
Systems integrator Intellistore then put together a system for Magnum consisting of a Quatrio Pivot 300 virtual tape library (VTL) with Diligent Technologies ProtectTier data deduplication software. Magnum also upgraded to Symantec's NebBackup 6.5.
Wunder said he gets from 10-1 to 20-1 deduplication ratios, depending on the type of data. "I had not investigated Diligent until Intellistore introduced me," he said. "I was significantly impressed with their technology. My first reaction was, 'Wow, what a big difference [from tape].' This is something I've been waiting for – bit-level compression -- so I can get my data set shrunk as much as possible so I can do something with it. Now we do backups at night and during the day get it off to tape."
Fortunately for Wunder, he didn't have to sell upper management on a new backup plan. But he did have to figure out a plan that significantly cut the backup window without significantly stretching the budget.
"I started at Magnum on Nov. 5," he said. "On Nov. 12, our executive team realized our backup system wasn't good and asked me to come up with a new one yesterday. They didn't understand [at the time of the LSI deal] the amount of time it would take to back up traditionally with tape."
Wunder decided backing up directly to tape was just too slow to seriously consider. Backing up to disk and then replicating off site to another disk array was the fastest and most efficient method and also the most expensive. "I'm too small to be able to afford the bandwidth we would've needed," Wunder said.
Shrinking data while shrinking cost
So he decided to go with a VTL and then move data off to a Quantum LTO-3 tape library. He estimates he saved $300,000 by using the Quatrio/Diligent combination instead of tape, because he would have increased the amount of libraries and tape media. Wunder said a Data Domain appliance would have cost $50,000 more than the Quatrio/Diligent VLT.
The amount of data Magnum stores hasn't leveled off since the LSI acquisition, and Wunder doesn't think it will. He said Magnum's engineers are rapidly filling up the company's NetApp FAS3050c NAS system, and he expects its data store to grow about 50% per year. "We're an engineering site, and engineers are pack rats," he said. "If you have it, they'll write to it."
Wunder still dreams of getting rid of tape completely and expects to do it eventually.
"I'm waiting for Blu-Ray jukeboxes to become more mainstream and for the media costs to come down," he said. "There's no comparison in the amount of data you can store on Blu-Ray than tape. But right now, media costs for Blu-Ray are too expensive."