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Consolidated data backups go smoother for Sematech with CommVault Simpana and NetApp disk

Streamling all of its backups on NetApp disk and CommVault's Simpana backup application makes the process shorter and easier to manage for research consortium Sematech.

When Sematech Inc. moved into a new data center in Albany, N.Y., late last year, the semiconductor research consortium decided it was a good time to streamline its data backup process by getting rid of its tape backup and consolidating two separate infrastructures into one.

"We decided to take the opportunity to do a technology refresh while we were doing the move," Sematech systems administrator Daniel Muller said.

Sematech kept its Austin, Tex., office, and split its personnel and operations between the two locations. The move included a migration from an aging Hewlett-Packard (HP) Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) and DLT tape drives to a pair of NetApp Inc. FAS3140 filers -- one in Austin and one in Albany -- with approximately 30 TB of raw data on each. The NetApp systems are used for primary data and a backup repository.

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Before the move, Sematech maintained separate backup structures for its Windows and Unix systems. It used two Symantec Corp. backup applications -- Net Backup for Unix and Backup Exec for Windows. That method significantly increased the management overhead of the company's backups.

"There was an organizational split between the Unix and Windows sides of the house," Muller said. "We maintained different retention policies, different technologies and different backup products. It wasn't particularly efficient in today's climate to keep two separate infrastructures that duplicate each other. We wanted a single pane of glass so we could see what was happening on both sides of the house."

Muller's team would have to check both applications to see if the backups completed. "We had to check databases on Unix and Windows to know if we had a full backup," he said.

Sematech considered adding Windows licenses to Net Backup, which would have reduced the upfront costs of consolidating backups to one application. Muller said he also looked at EMC Corp.'s NetWorker but that would be "a brand-new technology, and a steep price entry."

It wasn't particularly efficient in today's climate to keep two separate infrastructures that duplicate each other. We wanted to see what was happening on both sides of the house.
Daniel Muller
Systems AdministratorSematech
Sematech picked CommVault Simpana 8 soon after it was released in January, largely because NetApp reps praised Simpana's integration with their filers. Muller also thought CommVault would be easier to manage and add features to in the long term.

"We were really looking to have an application that could be administered by both sides without lock in for the Windows or Unix guys," Muller said. "We like the way we can leverage Simpana's common technology. It's modular and we can plug in things like an archival agent, which we'll be looking at."

Sematech doesn't use one of Simpana 8's major selling points -- data deduplication. Muller says he uses the dedupe offered for free in NetApp filers for both primary and backup data. "We use NetApp for a disk-to-disk backup target as well a primary data store," he said.

Muller was eager to get rid of tape, especially since the Austin office no longer has an IT staff to deal with handling the cartridges. Switching to 100% disk-based backup and recovery also significantly reduced the backup window.

"Backup times were an issue, since our [tape] infrastructure was almost a decade old," he said. "Our backups consumed up to 40 hours on the weekend. We wanted to get that backup window reduced."

Muller says using a combination of NetApp's snapshots and Simpana for applications has reduced the backup window to a couple of hours per night. "Our Active Directory backups are now more granular," Muller said. "Before we had to do that by tombstoning and through load leveling, and now we can do that all through Simpana. We can see how backups cross all systems and are complete."

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