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Tape is in it for the long haul

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Use case: Multisite backup and recovery

This IT services company architects and supports customer call centers. Tape libraries have significantly improved the company-wide backup process, bringing speed, capacity and density advantages with minimal power usage.

The call centers back up remotely to one of nine regional data centers. Backup data from the regional centers is copied to one of two corporate data centers. Active data with fast restore requirements is stored on disk in the data centers. Aging data is stored in a large tape library located in one of the corporate data centers.

When the services company planned to replace its legacy libraries with an updated product, speed of implementation was essential. One of the company’s major market differentiators is the speed at which it can bring new call centers online, so the IT team couldn’t afford downtime or poor scalability with its tape storage. They also needed a backup infrastructure that provided performance, capacity and density to support growing customer backup volumes.

Their choice of tape library offered these capabilities in a small footprint with economical power usage. Robust scalability ensures uptime and fast restores allow more direct data backup for a simplified backup and recovery process. The ability to upgrade drives was also important thanks to continued LTO tape technology development.

Use case: Business continuity

Company no. 3 owns acute

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care hospitals throughout the U.S. Corporate IT provides the hospitals with computing support and business continuity services. The company maintains two data center locations, each with its own tape library. One is located in the corporate data center and one in a secondary disaster recovery (DR) site.

The corporate site backs up and archives corporate data, while the DR site library retains backup and archive data from the remote sites. Most of the hospitals back up to local virtual tape libraries with deduplication that replicates over the wide-area network (WAN) to the DR site library. IT then archives the replicated data onto other tape drives in the same library. In cases where the data to be backed up can’t be deduped, and/or doesn’t need local disk-based restores, servers may back up directly over the WAN to the tape library.

The company frequently upgrades its storage environment and needed a tape library with a highly scalable infrastructure. At the same time, it needed to control space and costs in its data centers. The tape library is highly scalable thanks to upgradeable drives and frame components. It’s also more economical than disk for environmental factors like density in a small footprint, efficient rackspace, and lower power and cooling costs. These factors resulted in large operational savings over the life of the library.

Tape is here to stay

Given these end users’ stories and the advantages tape provides, it’s clear that tape has confounded the naysayers once again, and will have a long and fruitful life as a platform for protecting and retaining users’ most valuable information assets.

BIO: Jeff Byrne is a senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group.

This was first published in August 2012

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