Case study: NY Mets add deduplication to roster


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Media and more
Fueling the Mets' storage growth is media, mainly in the form of photos. "The Mets love to take photos," says Milone. "In 2006, we took 77,000 photos." In 2007 (when we interviewed Milone), the photographer had snapped 83,000 photos when Milone last checked and the year wasn't over yet. Each 15-megapixel photo represents a 25MB to 30MB file.

The Mets run Windows servers, primarily from Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. They maintain 18 file and application servers at Shea Stadium and 23 at Sterling, which runs a wider range of applications. In general, the servers are used for file serving, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.

When Milone began to seriously think about the backup problem, the company had 3.5TB of storage at Shea Stadium and a little more than 1TB at Sterling, all DAS, which eight people managed: five at the stadium and three at Sterling. Milone plans to hire four more people in 2008 and, due to the rapid growth of the company's data, is considering implementing two SANs (one for each data center).

Two disk-to-disk backup alternatives
Although the New York Mets focused their selection on just a few products, there

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are others that would also meet the organization's low six-figure budget. Analysts cite the following two as examples:

Diligent Technologies Corp., Framingham, MA, offers ProtecTier, a virtual tape library (VTL) that also provides inline deduplication. Diligent bundles its software with a Linux server and Sun Microsystems Inc. storage arrays to deliver what amounts to an appliance. For the Mets' scenario, a Diligent configuration would provide 24TB (raw) of storage at each data center, Linux servers, ProtecTier software at each site and replication between sites. The price comes to a little more than $150,000, including one day of installation. Annual hardware and software maintenance will add another 20% to the cost. Of course, pricing is negotiable.

FalconStor Software Inc., Melville, NY, could provide its FalconStor VTL software, 12TB (raw) of storage hardware, single-instance repository (postprocessing dedupe) software, and FalconStor continuous data protection for each site packaged as an appliance plus replication between sites. The total cost would come to just under $150,000, plus the cost of professional services to help with implementation and deployment. Add 25% for maintenance costs; prices are negotiable.

The plan
Given that the company already had two data centers and an assortment of other properties, some of which are suitable as remote backup sites, Milone began formulating a multiphase plan to speed the backup process, eliminate tape and address the company's concerns about disaster recovery. "We could get business continuity and disaster recovery for all the Sterling entities," says Milone. It would just be a question of finding the right combination of technologies at the right price.

For backup, the Mets use Backup Exec from Symantec Corp. Each server contains two network cards; the second card is directly linked to a backup server to which Quantum Corp. DLT tapes are attached. However, the constant tape handling, sometimes eight tapes per backup, was taking a toll on the IT staff. The backup process entailed nightly incremental backups and a full weekly backup, so tapes were constantly shuffled around, leading to occasional backup failures.

The Mets may be Sterling's highest profile investment, but the company has other business units, each with unique backup needs. For example, for Sterling's real estate and investment businesses, Milone started a project last year to move away from paper by scanning leases and other documents. The company scans as many as 12,000 documents each month and stores them as PDF images. The document images are accessed and searched through a Microsoft SharePoint server. The Mets also have a number of minor league facilities. Over time, whatever backup solution Milone comes up with for the Mets he expects to extend to the minor league teams.

Milone's plan called for D2D backup automation combined with WAN replication, by which each data center could replicate backups to the other with the ultimate goal of eliminating tape completely. While Milone envisioned such daily and weekly backup as part of a comprehensive business continuity/disaster recovery initiative, the initial effort focused on Sterling's need to automate backup. Management agreed and approved approximately $200,000 for the initial effort, part of what would be a multiphase initiative.

This was first published in March 2008

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