Components supplier solves backup problems

Components supplier solves backup problems

Kevin Ballard and Brian Miller

When it came to protecting its data, Silicon Systems Inc. (SSI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Texas Instruments and a manufacturer of semiconductors and complementary servo/spindle, interface, preamp, and ASIC devices, looked at a variety of solutions. We even considered attaching tape drives to each of our

Windows and Unix servers and workstations.

But what we really wanted was a uniform approach that would provide centralized control of storage management. We needed a solution that could back up data from our disparate platforms to a common tape library--one that would not restrict us to certain vendors. We wanted to be confident that the software we chose would work with existing libraries and any tape technology we chose in the future. And because we regularly add new servers and workstations, the solution had to be easily scalable at each site.

After a thorough review of storage management packages, we chose Legato NetWorker. This software was especially well-suited for our environment because it supports current and planned platforms, including Windows NT, Windows 95, Macintosh, HP-UX, Solaris, NetWare, and Network Appliance systems.

We particularly liked a feature called Media Pools, which allowed us to create backup schedules for different servers and workstations depending on the importance of the data. NetWorker also scales easily with "drag-and-drop" client definition, remote Storage Nodes for distributed tape management, and enabler-based client connections, which allow you to increase the number of client connections through electronic enabler codes. Additional software is not required to expand the number of clients.

Having experience with Legato technology via Sun`s Solstice Data Backup Utility (SDBU), we were confident that NetWorker would meet the needs of our expanding enterprise. (Sun resells a version of NetWorker as part of a long-standing OEM agreement.)

We implemented separate NetWorker servers at our five corporate facilities. At our headquarters in Tustin, CA, which houses 600 employees and 800 network nodes, one server backs up 30 Solaris, 11 HP-UX, and 60 NT servers and workstations to a 238-slot StorageTek 9714 tape library with five DLT drives.

The backup server also protects four Oracle databases, performing hot backups through the NetWorker BusinesSuite module. By automating the database backup process and relying on integrated Oracle functionality for concurrent database backup and application updating, database administrators no longer had to first export a copy of the database before backing it up. This allows us to back up more frequently, which means we are that much more protected.

If a restore is needed, it can be accomplished fast and with one attempt. Another backup server protects 35 Windows NT and Windows 95 workstations. This server is linked to two tape libraries--a seven-slot Quantum 4700 storing weekly full backups, and a six-slot HP C67 used for daily incremental backups.

Together, these two servers protect a total of 1TB of data, which is completely backed up each week, with daily incremental backups of about 250GB.

At SSI`s next largest site, in Santa Cruz, a manufacturing site with 600 employees and 500 systems, a Solaris-based NetWorker server backs up 20 other servers and workstations (Windows NT, Solaris, and HP-UX) to a 40-slot StorageTek 9710 library with two DLT drives. The configuration is similar at our Bay Area Design Center in San Jose, where 15 servers are protected. At each of these sites, weekly full backups are typically 350GB, and daily incremental backups run about 125GB. In Longmont, CO, SSI also relies on a single NetWorker server to back up 20GB from six servers (one Windows NT and five Solaris) to a 28-slot Breece Hill Infinity Q430 tape library with two DLT drives. Finally, at our smallest site, in Phoenix, a 15-slot Breece Hill Q215 library with one DLT drive is linked to a NetWorker server to protect a 50GB Network Appliance server.

While most policies are established at headquarters to meet quality and other requirements, each location (except Phoenix which is administered from Tustin) has an on-site backup administrator. NetWorker`s central management console gives SSI headquarters enterprise-wide version control, a task that will be streamlined when we implement Legato GEMS management software in the near future. GEMS automates NetWorker software distribution and version control across the enterprise; allows each remote site to monitor backup operations at any other site; and provides fail-over capabilities in the event of a disaster at any one site.

Click here to enlarge image

Volume pools provide a method for tracking, organizing, and sorting data and backup volumes. Each pool is associated with a backup group, NetWorker Client, list of Savesets (file systems), or backup levels (full, levels 1-9, incremental, or manual).

Kevin Ballard is an information systems engineer and Brian Miller is an information analyst, at Silicon Systems Inc. (Texas Instruments, Storage Product Group), in Tustin, CA.

This article was originally published on January 01, 1999