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Post Y2K: Prevention still better than recovery

Post Y2K: Prevention still better than recovery

The need for businesses large and small to have a secure form of data backup has gone beyond being just desirable.

In many cases, particularly relating to publicly owned companies, it was considered a legal responsibility of management to have an effective and rapid means of disaster recovery. But Y2K is by no means the only factor in this development.

The rapid development of e-commerce and the concept of 24 x 7 businesses meant even an hour of unscheduled downtime could have serious effects on a company's bottom line. Even home users began to find a need to back up their data, so there became an urgent need for secure data storage, ranging from megabytes to petabytes.

It spawned an entire new industry in data storage and recovery - an industry that rode in on the Y2K wave but was not reliant on it, and that had a market that stretched from the study to the multinational HQ. Home users and small businesses were relatively easy to cater to with Zip disks and tape drives, but larger organisations required more.

They not only wanted off-premise data storage, they wanted instant access to it and that meant the creation of storage area networks (SANs) and fibre channels that would allow instant restores from remote sites up to 60 kilometres away.

Companies such as Tecmar, Exabyte, Iomega and Sony provided tape and high-capacity disk drives and the media to store data on; Veritas has become a major provider of the software to drive back-up systems, while Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi and others have all made major investments in providing total disaster recovery solutions.

Hitachi last year opened a $5 million disaster recovery facility built into the side of a hill just outside Brisbane's CBD. The facility has been designed to withstand a direct hit from a plane crash and has hundreds of terabytes of storage capacity. The data can either be delivered physically and stored on the client's own media, or can be data backed up in real time with the storage facility doubling as an extension of the client's network.

According to Hitachi Data Services' Queens-land general manager, Ralph Hunt, the centre is on a separate power supply and telephone grid to the rest of the city and its generators are capable of powering a small town. It has uninterrupted power supply, fire systems and security systems and is housed in a concrete building with 10-inch thick walls, but in the event of anything happening to the centre, the data is mirrored at other sites around Australia, so would still be recoverable.

Hunt said the threat of Y2K-caused blackouts or breakdown of services had created a greater demand for secure data storage, but the demand went further than that.

`A couple of years ago when you talked to people about disaster recovery they would say 'yes, we have backups'. But because Y2K was handled at senior management and board level and forced people at the top to look specifically at IT, they are realising that data processing is critical to their business.'

Furthermore, businesses started looking at how long they could afford to be down and the cost of being able to recover quickly, Hunt added.

`It is easy to find desk and office space but it is very difficult to find data centres. Most industries are now running 24 x 7 businesses and the impact of them losing systems at any time is therefore significant.' It was not unknown for listed Internet companies to lose a third of their market capitalisation after suffering a crash.

According to Hunt, selling disaster recovery is a matter of identifying organisations that see information technology as crucial to their business and can then put a value on the cost of having their system down. `It's a matter of evaluating the cost versus the benefit. It is like an insurance policy but, unlike a lot of insurance, if you don't have a policy and something happens you can often stay in business. However, if your IT goes down for a number of days you might not be able to stay in business. There is no restriction on the size of a business that should use disaster recovery but practicality says a corner store would not need to use our type of service. There are, however, other ways for them to protect their data.'

The speed of data recovery depends on the disaster recovery system being operated by the centre's clients. `At one end of the scale we run basically a mirrored system so that if your computer goes down, when it comes back it has up-to-date data and applications so downtime is measured in minutes rather than days. At the other end of the scale if someone has to physically walk in and recover or reload all of their applications and databases it could take a day or longer.'

Compaq introduced its new Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) to Australia in July. It is a modular system designed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week that can be added to and backed up without the need to shut it down and it uses a combination of data snapshot and mirror systems to enable rapid restoration of data if the primary storage site is destroyed.

Director of strategic planning Bob Passmore said ENSA was not technology for technology sake. `It used to be that you would have to keep a system up eight to 12 hours a day and were able to back up data late at night. But now the Internet requires systems to be up 24 x 7 and the amount of data required for storage is growing all the time. ENSA, which includes being able to mirror databases, means a large database that would have required two to three days to restore if it crashed can now be restored instantly.'

Compaq says ENSA `virtualises' storage allowing vast amounts of storage to be pooled across an enterprise for use by different types of application servers deployed anywhere. Because the system is modular rather than relying on a single centralised storage facility, it can be easily expanded and Compaq claims it can be scaled from gigabytes to petabytes as required. The company also launched a fibre channel-based network backup solution that allows multiple hosts to share common tape libraries.

In September, Compaq followed it up with the launch of a range of storage hardware and again in November with a series of Storage Area Network solutions including software for instant backup and restore; enhanced disaster recovery solutions for worldwide data protection; a `phone home' service to automatically fix problems; storage solutions; a complete portfolio of enterprise backup solutions for open systems; and `universal' storage devices.

Storage solutions have become an essential part of the Compaq enterprise computing strategy and the company has been one of the leaders in the development of SANs.

Earlier this month, on January 14, Veritas announced it had developed an end-to-end data protection software package for the SAN-based Compaq StorageWorks Enterprise Backup Solution family. The package utilises Veritas's Backup Exec and NetBackup in a product called EBS BackPaq that was jointly developed by Veritas and Compaq.

Compaq marketing manager (storage) Steve Bovis described EBS BackPaq as the first Fibre Channel backup and restore solution to offer automation, high performance, scalability and complete software functionality at a price comparable to individual DLT 35/70 drives paired one-to-one with individual servers.

In November, Compaq added several new storage solutions to its SAN range, which Bovis said increased data availability and reduced operational costs, speed application development and deployment time.

`The Internet has changed how the world does business, making instant access to online information critical to meet customers demands and help them remain competitive and has created a range of storage-related IT challenges.'

Hewlett-Packard has been providing data storage and disaster recovery solutions for Unix and Windows NT for almost a decade. Solutions marketing manager Michael Abela said HP structured its prices on the client's recovery time objective.

`We have five levels of recovery time objective. As the time between switching on and utilising our back up facilities lessens, so the price increases. We can get to the stage where we can have real-time data exchanges so a company can be up and running almost instantaneously by taking advantage of our SAN. People will weigh the cost on the basis of how mission-critical their data is.'

At the other end of the scale, HP offers a basic service based on eight-hour recovery. The basic service is a data warehouse system that provides storage and testing facilities for clients who do their own backups and want to store their storage media off-premises.

Exabyte has also been carving itself a good chunk of the storage media market with its popular Mammoth tape family. In November last year it announced its Exabyte X80 MammothTape technology library for large application servers and storage networks (see product box). The company's Mammoth 2 mid-range tapes began shipping in Australia on January 10 and there is already a strong demand for them, according to Exabyte Australasia regional manager Richard Giddey.

While the industry says it is still too early in the year to tell whether demand will drop off now that the major hurdle associated with Y2K has been cleared trouble free, most are confident that any lull will only be temporary and that the Internet will be the major driver of future disaster recovery demand.what's new from . . .

. . . Compaq

Compaq has invested heavily in disaster recovery as part of its enterprise solution range. It offers storage solutions for its Compaq ProLiant servers in the form of the Smart Array 4200 controller and the StorageWorks RAID Array 4000 System.

The Smart Array 4200 controller, based on a new 64-bit RISC processor architecture, is designed for workgroups and departments and comes with four Ultra2 SCSI channels for 320MB/secondbandwidth, and more than a terabyte of capacity with up to 56 drives. Compaq claims it offers four times the performance of the earlier Smart Array 3200 and is priced from $3650.

The StorageWorks RAID Array 4000 system, formerly the Compaq Fibre Channel Storage System, is ideal for customers with Microsoft or Novell clusters. It has dual RAID array controllers, one controller on active and the other on standby. The new system also supports dual Fibre Channel host adapters in a single server, providing redundancy for data from the server to the storage. The price of a base configuration StorageWorks RAID Array 4000 with dual host adapters and controllers, and the Cluster Series F Model 2000 Kit starts, at around $17,000.

Compaq also offers a range of Ultra2 Universal disk drives that operate across ProLiant servers, AlphaServer systems, and the StorageWorks Enclosure 4200. The drives come in a one-inch hot-plug carrier and are available in 9.1GB capacities at speeds of 7200 and 10,000rpm, and in an 18.2GB capacity running at 10,000rpm. They are priced from $1171 to $2465. Ultra3 drives are also now available in data transfers up to 160MBps.

Compaq

1300 368 369 http:// www.compaq.com.au

. . . Exabyte

Exabyte has established itself in the tape drive market with its new Mammoth-2 (M2) Tape Drive, which is already attracting a lot of attention.

Exabyte claims the M2 is the fastest drive in the midrange market at 12MBps (30MB compressed). It can record a 150GB (compressed) tape in under 1.5 hours and comes with LVD SCSI, HVD, or fibre channel interfaces. It is available in 20, 40, and 60GB native capacity and uses advanced 8mm Helical Scan for recording. The M2 can read Mammoth and Mammoth-LT tapes but will only write to M2 tapes.

By comparison, the Mammoth (Exabyte 8900) Tape Drive has a 20GB native capacity and 180MBpm native data transfer rates. It records at 21.6GB per hour and can search more than 20GB in 72 seconds (the M2 does it in 60 seconds). Like the M2, Mammoth features an industry-standard 5.25-inch half-high form factor and full read compatibility with all Exabyte 8mm drives.

The Mammoth-LT offers 14GB of uncompressed capacity and 120MB per minute throughput, with twice the capacity and performance of the Eliant 820 (the next model down). The Mammoth-LT can back up 7.2GB an hour (native).

The bottom-of-the-range Eliant 820 8mm features 7GB native capacity and data transfer rates of up to 60MBpm native.

Exabyte

1800 350 350 http://www.exabyte.com

. . . Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard provides a wide range of data storage products suitable for disaster recovery. They range from complete data library to low-cost CD-ReWriters.

HP SureStore DAT Drives and TapeRack are designed for mid-range network backup and offer 4 to 24GB compressed capacity with performance of up to 7.2GB per hour with 2:1 compression.

The SureStore DAT drives come with HP's one-button disaster recovery while the SureStore TapeRack comes with Hot-swap drives, power supplies, and fans. Software support is provided for redundant arrays of independent tapes (RAIT) and mirroring and array and mirroring capability is supplied via backup software.

Transfer rates vary from 7.2 to 36GB/hour (2:1 Compression) transfer rate per drive to support a wide range of backup windows and the user has slots for up to four removable drives for backup of 24 to 280GB.

It will support DAT and DLT drives, with up to 10MBps transfer rates.

For larger storage and backup there is the SureStore DLT Library range designed for backing up servers or networks with 40 to 200GB (15-Slot) or 80 to 600GB (28/48-Slot) of data. They offer Up to 1050GB (15-Slot) or 3.4TB (28/48-Slot) capacity (compressed), with up to 144GB/hour data transfer rate (28/48-Slot).

HP offers one and two-drive configurations, with stand-alone and rackmount configurations available for the 15-Slot.

Hewlett-Packard

13 1347 http:// www.hp.com.au

. . . Sony

Sony has developed a growing range of tape drives, tape cartridges and autoloaders that provide extended capacity for companies that need to do frequent large capacity backups.

Autoloaders such as the External 8 Cartridge DDS-4 TSL-S11000 provide up to 320GB of compressed data storage in eight 150m tapes.

It uses Helical Scan recording and a high-speed SCSI interface. There is multi-level error correction code, read- after-write security for data integrity and it is compatible with backup/archival software from most leading vendors.

The DDS-4 has a read/write speed of 2.36MBps native, and up to 4.72MBps compressed. It has a 10MB buffer and will run on either 110 or 240 volts.

For smaller businesses Sony offers the External 4 Cartridge AIT-1 Autoloader TSLSA300C. It uses AIT tape technology with tapes lasting up to 30,000 complete recordings/playbacks. Like the External 8, it has magazine loading for quick and easy interchange and uses digital servo-controlled tape management for precise tracking. Cartridges feature relatively short length (170 or 230m) tapes that combine with a special Memory In Cassette chip to enable fast searching. Cartridges are relatively small (8mm) and feature a dual spindle design.

Like its big brother it will run off 240 or 110V and is compatible with backup/archival software from leading vendors.

Sony

(02) 9887 6666 http://www.sony.com

. . . Veritas

Unlike the many companies that provide hardware solutions for disaster recovery, Veritas provides the software that makes it all possible. Products such as its Backup Exec series for small business and desktops, and NetBackup have spearheaded the company's success.

Version 7.3 of Backup Exec Small Business Server Suite for Windows NT is a data protection solution designed specifically for Microsoft Small Business Server for Windows NT and includes virus protection, backup, restore, and disaster recovery. It comes with single-step online backup of Exchange, SQL and the BackOffice Small Business Server and provides automated backup of the entire Small Business Server. It requires 40MB hard disk space, 96MB RAM (64MB RAM for System Requirement and 32MB RAM for Backup Exec), Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server v4.0 and v4.5; Intel P166 or higher compatible processor NetBackup 3.2, which forms the basis of Compaq's latest SAN solution, provides the ability to protect all data in and enterprise, from workgroups to enterprise servers on Windows NT, UNIX and NetWare environments. It has support for a dozen Server platforms and more than two dozen client platforms.

The basic restore option - Intelligent Disaster Recovery (IDR) allows users to recover remote Windows NT Servers quickly, without having to reinstall of the operating system. It also offers the ability to copy primary backup tapes and then `de-multiplex' these tapes so that data is `co-located' on the second tape speeding up recovery times for critical data or single file restores.

Veritas

(02) 9552 4455 http:// www.veritas.com


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