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Bank undergoes backup consolidation after mergers

Bank streamlines hundreds of backup tools acquired from a series of mergers down to two, saving it $800,000 in the process.

After a series of mergers, storage capacity for HSBC Mexico grew to about 300 TB, leaving it with applications running on around 200 servers and a bevy of backup systems and administrators.

"We had 14 backup administrators running around constantly changing out tapes and reconfiguring systems," said Ignacio Vera, chief information officer at HSBC Mexico. "We were relying too much on tape media for restores, and there wasn't much commonality between different applications, operating systems and their different versions."

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HSBC already had a global agreement with Symantec for storage management software, and the Mexican group was using EMC's Symmetrix DMX-3 arrays. In addition to embedded backup and replication tools running inside banking applications, the bank was also using IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager.

Beginning in late 2006, HSBC consolidated legacy Sun StorageTek disk arrays and DAS onto the DMX array using EMC's SRDF replication software. The company then deployed Symantec's NetBackup 6.5 enterprise client, which performs backups across the SAN and offers higher throughput than backups over the LAN. HSBC also bought more EMC disk to create a backup partition on the Symmetrix for staging before shipment off to one of three Sun StorageTek SL8500 tape silos. Within 10 months, HSBC had significantly streamlined backup operations.

"Today, four guys manage everything," Vera said. "Overall, we saved $800,000 by doing this consolidation."

Work is far from done

Vera's consolidation project isn't finished yet. There are still applications being backed up separately, mostly proprietary banking applications that have compatibility issues with NetBackup. "They need to be completely stopped before you can back them up," Vera said. "We also have to make changes to our applications to support high availability."

Meanwhile, his storage needs are still growing as the bank adds new services and customers adopt them in addition to traditional offerings. "Every year there's more and more data and more and more transactions," Vera said. "It's happening at most banks. We're growing around 30% a year."

HSBC is also consolidating three data centers into two, including a new data center in Mexico City. During this process, the company is standardizing on HP servers. "We're taking advantage," Vera said. "It's like when you clean out your house."

The bank is assimilating yet more legacy equipment as it takes on IT management for all Central American branches. HSBC has yet to tackle server virtualization, but it's in the plan.

With all this growth and change, Vera said he'd like to see NetBackup take more of the management duties off of his hands. "Backup [administration] needs to become more automated," he said.

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