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ExaGrid EX10000E data deduplication appliances shrink home warranty firm's backup window

Looking for speedier backups, Cross Country Home Services picked ExaGrid post-process data deduplication appliances over EMC's Data Domain inline dedupe systems as part of an IT overhaul.

When looking for a faster, more efficient data backup system, Cross Country Home Services selected ExaGrid Systems EX10000E data deduplication appliances over EMC Corp.'s Data Domain because of its post-processing deduplication method, according to senior manager of network, systems and telecom Chuck Matulik.

Matulik said the main goal for switching from tape to disk this year was to reduce his backup windows. Mission accomplished: He said Cross Country cut the time it takes to back up its production Oracle database from approximately 12 hours to four.

"We run an Oracle database that is close to 1 TB," he said. "To write that to tape used to take 12 hours, so if we started at 9:00 at night, it would still be writing at 9:00 in the morning. We are a 24/7 shop. Now we back up in about four hours. D2D [disk-to-disk backup] is just so much better."

A big part of that improvement, Matulik said, comes from doing post-process vs. inline deduplication. ExaGrid and market leader EMC Data Domain both dedupe at the target but Data Domain does inline deduplication, and Matulik decided a post-process data deduplication appliance was better for his needs.

"Our backup windows had to be much smaller. We looked at the best method of doing backup in a smaller window," Matulik said. "Tape was not the answer, so some disk-to-disk was required. We looked at Data Domain at first. I liked that they have more flexibility, but in the end that was a negative. We had to have consistent backups across servers. By the end of May, we converted to ExaGrid."

Inline deduplication significantly reduces the raw disk capacity required because it deduplicates before beginning the backup process and never writes the full data set to disk. Post-process deduplication moves the data in full to disk before initiating the deduplication process and requires a greater initial capacity overhead than inline solutions. However, post-process can be faster because it avoids the bottleneck that inline dedplication can cause before storing the data.

Matulik said ExaGrid data deduplication appliances also cost less than Data Domain boxes. Cross Country has 320 TB spread across three locations, with a 20 TB ExaGrid EX10000E at each site. The company also standardized on Symantec Backup Exec as part of the backup overhaul.

Cross Country, which issues home warranties, used to write backups natively to local network-attached storage (NAS) systems or onto an EMC NetWorker server and then to SDLT-2 tapes. It had been using this method for at least 10 years, but the process became more cumbersome after the firm opened a second call center. At the end of last year, Cross Country began revamping its IT infrastructure and used the opportunity to change their backup technology to disk-to-disk with deduplication.

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