JetBlue switches to EMC Avamar, does remote-office backups over WAN

While migrating to larger data centers, JetBlue centralized its backup process by using EMC Avamar deduplication instead of tape at remote sites; now the airline doesn't have to fly IT people to regional offices to collect tapes.

While upgrading its data centers, JetBlue Airways centralized its remote-office backups with EMC Avamar's data deduplication software and took its airplanes out of the data protection process.

While upgrading to larger data centers, the New York-based airline began using EMC Avamar's client-based deduplication application to back up over the wide-area network (WAN) instead of doing tape backups at its regional sites. Before that, JetBlue used to fly IT people to its regional offices twice a week to rotate tape. That was expensive, and a waste of manpower, according to JetBlue storage architect Justin Tobe.

"That was the big inefficiency," Tobe said. "We used the tried-and-true methods [for backing up remote sites] but we've been decentralized for so long, and we have such a large footprint at our regional sites. During our tech refresh, we found a way to centralize backups."

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JetBlue is in the process of migrating from its Garden City, N.Y., data center and Salt Lake City, Utah, disaster recovery site for larger data centers in Beltsville, Md., and San Jose, Calif.

JetBlue is an EMC storage shop with Symmetrix DMX-4s in its data centers and midrange Clariion 6500s at its remote sites. It also uses EMC Celerra NF600 42g for network-attached storage (NAS) at its data centers. JetBlue has an EMC DL4106 virtual tape library (VTL), but will replace that with Data Domain deduplication backup targets in its data centers and replicate across the WAN between them. That will give JetBlue both of EMC's deduplication backup products.

"We use Avamar specifically for remote offices and Data Domain will be for intra-data center backups," Tobe said.

Tobe said Avamar's deduplication reduces the data enough to make it feasible to move data over the WAN.

"It costs a lot for bandwidth for these sites," Tobe said. "We can back up over the WAN, but without deduplication, we really couldn't afford to do it. We keep the data for 90 days, then dedupe it to a [Quantum] tape array in the data center and then offsite to Iron Mountain. We back up all file systems and Exchange at all regional sites. Backups go over the WAN with relatively low bandwidth usage."

"The big change is we're moving away from a decentralized infrastructure. Now we manage everything centrally as much as we can," he added.

That centralization includes the electronic manuals that JetBlue's pilots use to fly the planes. (JetBlue calls this Paperless Cockpits). These manuals are PDF files on a distributed Windows file share stored on Celerras at the two major data centers. "Instead of pulling data from each airport, we have it on NAS systems on each central site and we pull it over the WAN," Tobe said.

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