Double-Take replication software solves remote-office data backup headache for Lennox International

Because backups at remote offices failed regularly and file restores were sometimes impossible, Lennox International turned to Double-Take replication software.

A heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturer with more than 160 locations worldwide solved daily data backup failures and made file restores quicker by replicating data to a centralized server at headquarters.

Dallas-based Lennox International issues its large remote offices a standard Windows server, which IT manager Drew Duke said in the past also included a direct-attached tape drive and either CA Inc. ARCserve or EMC Corp.'s NetWorker data backup software.

Unfortunately, executing nightly tape-based backups at these remote locations was easier said than done. "We'd get calls for a file restore, and then come to find out that though the software depended on [staff] switching out tapes every night, they hadn't even opened the package of tapes," Duke said. It was also difficult with a small IT staff for the company to go to each remote location to make sure the backup was configured properly.

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"After 10 or 11 times I said, 'This is ridiculous,'" Duke said. "Half the time the tapes hadn't been opened, and other times the log file partitions were full and we didn't have monitoring to alert us to that."

Duke said he solved the problem by adding replication software from Double-Take Software Inc.

The implementation came after he evaluated Symantec Corp.'s Veritas NetBackup and what at the time was called Double-Take Livewire replication.

"NetBackup had a lot of the traditional look and feel of an old-school backup program," Duke said. "It was also expensive."

Lennox tested the Double-Take replication software, and Duke was pleased with the results. "I was fine with making sure it was configured correctly, but I couldn't be going back to look at log files every day to see, did it work, or did it not work?" he said. He said within seven hours of bringing in Double-Take's software, Lennox had seven of its remote servers backing up to a central Windows server at headquarters.

A Double-Take client is now added to each new server deployed before it's sent to its remote location from headquarters. Lennox is in the middle of a major server refresh, so most of its remote locations now have Double-Take installed and backing up to Dallas, where it still has NetWorker installed to back up the Windows server's Volume Shadow Copy service (VSS) snapshots to tape for secondary data backup.

When remote locations call for a file restore, Duke said, "Before we even get a help desk ticket, the file is there."

Sending data over the wide-area network rather than backing up locally to tape brings its own set of challenges, however. Lennox handles this by throttling the amount of bandwidth the replication uses during the business day down to no more than 20% of the line capacity. "But after hours and on weekends, we take 90% of the wire [for replication]," Duke said. "And a lot of the locations have T1 connections."

A total of 4 TB among all remote locations gets sent over the WAN. However, Duke said sizing the disk capacity on the back-end Windows Server took a couple of tries to get right. "At first we started off with about 2 TB and thought that would give us plenty of space," he said. Lennox was able to easily add more disk drives into its existing four-bay Windows server, but "the next [capacity] upgrade will be more painful."

Double-Take repackages Livewire in Double-Take Backup

What Duke bought as Livewire is now known as Double-Take Backup after Double-Take overhauled its product lines in April following its acquisition of emBoot Inc.

In April, Double-Take began shipping its two new software packages, Double-Take Move and Double-Take Flex. This week, it announced it had begun shipping two more software packages announced in April. Double-Take Availability combines previously separate Double-Take high availability (HA) failover titles, for Linux, Windows, VMware Infrastructure and Hyper-V. Double-Take Backup combines Livewire with TimeData CDP.

Duke said he's hoping TimeData's snapshot capabilities will eventually translate into a separate snapshot offering he can use with his back-end Windows server. "We've had a checkered history with Microsoft, in particular with the reliability of VSS," he said. "I would like not to have a dependency on VSS and would like all the data protection we deploy to be Double-Take instead."

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