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GPS developer uses Atempo LiveBackup to locate data worldwide

Trimble Navigation hasn't used centralized backup hosts or portable media since 2002. Instead, it backs up workstations to regional repositories using Atempo's LiveBackup.

With thousands of employees spread over 20 countries and a highly mobile sales force, GPS developer Trimble Navigation Ltd. found Atempo Inc.'s workstation-backup software and pricing model a better fit than the larger backup software vendors.

Trimble uses Atempo Live Backup to protect its data on eight regional SQL Server boxes in the U.S., Europe and New Zealand, which make up the company's main backup infrastructure.

"We use Atempo for a lot of different things," said Shawn Wilde, Trimble's chief information officer. Trimble was one of the first companies to deploy Atempo's workstation-backup software in 2002 and has since rolled it out to support most of its 2,000 workstations deployed by field sales representatives and senior management.

The company has a central data center in Ohio with storage from EMC and NetApp from a company it acquired last year, as well as some Dell servers with direct-attached disk. But most of the organization's 6 TB of data is backed up using hundreds of LiveBackup clients in the field. Live Backup's continuous data protection (CDP) sends only changed data from each workstation to the nearest regional SQL Server box set up for long-term retention.

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Trimble does not back up those SQL Server boxes to tape or replicate the data back to the main data center, as is customary in many other distributed environments. "The analysis we made was, what's the risk of losing both the entire SQL Server and a laptop or desktop at the exact same time? It's pretty low," Wilde said.

Wilde considers it a "bearable nuisance" to resync any lost SQL Server box with a fresh backup from the associated laptops and desktops. Trimble doesn't need any WAN optimization appliances for the backups, he said, because Atempo sends only changes over the wire.

Atempo allows users to restore deleted files, which Wilde said was a big factor in selecting Live Backup. "This was the No. 1 reason we liked Atempo's product," Wilde said. Not only can users restore accidentally deleted single files without IT intervention, but Wilde said it's a security feature for him, as well.

"Most of the material users are working on, particularly in upper management, is extremely sensitive, especially under SEC rules," he said. "Not having help desk staff involved in restores makes us more comfortable about possibly exposing that data."

Atempo doesn't charge for host servers, another thing Wilde likes about it. "I have [host] servers all over the world, and knowing all the other costs involved for things like the server hardware, SQL and OS licenses, why should vendors bill us for that server, too?" he asked.

Atempo primarily competes with larger backup vendors such as EMC, Symantec and IBM on price, but also on new features. Atempo recently upgraded to Live Backup 3.2, adding a Mac and Linux backup client, support for more granular administrative roles than just "admin" or "user," support for a group management console and more scalability, thanks to a change in how the product's underlying database arranges data.

Wilde said Trimble has tested the latest version at its European regional offices, but the company remains Windows-focused. Instead, "it would be nice if they would give users a little more control over slow bandwidth link updates," he said. Today the software has a slider bar to allow users to throttle bandwidth, "but it could be much more network- aware," Wilde said. "If it's connecting on a low bandwidth link, like a wireless hot spot, it could prioritize backing up a recently changed PowerPoint file before it backs up the antivirus file, for example."

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