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Swiss Web developer picks open-source backup tool from Zmanda

Zen Innovation said it deployed Zmanda Amanda Enterprise for about one-tenth the cost of EMC Networker.

When the size of Zen Innovations' data backups outgrew its homegrown scripts, the Swiss Web application developer deployed Zmanda Inc.'s Amanda Enterprise open-source backup software last year over EMC Corp. NetWorker based on price.

Along with saving money, Zen Innovations AG increased the efficiency and reliability of its backups.

Zen Innovations, founded in 2007 by former employees of Thompson-Reuters and located in Kehrsatz, Switzerland, markets a software tool called Global Trade Tracker that that provides Web-based access to trade data from 56 countries. The company also writes custom software for clients, and has approximately 10 TB of data that it had been protecting with homegrown tools and scripts, managing director Sergio Laberer said.

"We grew quickly after we were founded, and the scripts weren't efficient anymore," Laberer said.

The company also evaluated EMC's NetWorker backup software, but found Zmanda's open-source backup tool considerably less expensive.

"We have different database and operating systems, and EMC requires you to buy separate modules for them," Laberer said. "NetWorker got costly very quickly." NetWorker would have cost Zen about 25,000 Swiss francs, or just over $22,000 U.S. "Zmanda was about 10% of that," he said.

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Amanda Enterprise is based on the open-source Amanda standard. Zmanda has evolved Amanda from its original incarnation to support Windows machines, added security features, brought it up to date with support for new applications, improved its scalability and added the Zmanda Management Console (ZMC) GUI with reporting features. Zmanda can also send backups directly to Amazon's S3 cloud. A premium support subscription for each Zmanda Backup Server is $375 per year.

When Zen Innovations started, it had little storage, but now hosts data for seven customers as well as its own. "Recovering with scripts was time-consuming and prone to errors," Laberer said. "This cut down at least a day's worth of work a week for our database administrator. It runs essentially on its own. Our backups are much more efficient now."

However, Laberer said he and his team sometimes still go to a command-line interface (CLI) to increase the performance of restores. To restore just a few files, it can take between 20 minutes and a half hour. "Sometimes we still use the CLI when we're pressed for time," he said.

"CLI is always the zippiest option and many system administrators prefer CLIs for some day-to-day tasks," Zmanda CEO Chander Kant wrote in an email to "There is always a small overhead of using a management console -- for example, a Web server runs on the backup server to support the back-end of the console. We continue to find ways to bridge the gap between CLI performance and management console performance."

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