Coffee company brews for tomorrow, with today's technology

When Green Mountain Coffee needed a solution to wake up its backup operation, it didn't wait for tomorrow's technology.

Sometimes the excitement about the next great thing obscures the steadiness and soundness of today's storage technology. For example, many of today's data storage articles and conferences cover the hot Storage Area Network (SAN) topic and how SANs are the cure-all for all that ails IT departments. Well, Jim Prevo has a storage plan, but he didn't feel compelled to turn to a new-fangled SAN to make it work.

"Managing our storage isn't our problem," says Prevo, vice president and CIO of Waterbury, Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. "What we're really most concerned about is system performance since our company and our data volume are both growing at 15-20% a year."

Prevo particularly wants to be certain system performance isn't compromised when performing the company's ever-growing system backups. He has sought out efficient and fast ways to handle system backup and storage -- he settled on DLTtape Systems from Quantum Corp.

The Quantum backup system evolved from single tape drives into a full backup server-based scheme. "Back in 1994 this started with single DLTtape drives on two Novell servers, when [the drives] had an uncompressed capacity of 10G Bytes," Prevo recalls.

These became DLT 4000 drives when Green Mountain switched to Microsoft Exchange servers and now Prevo also has a DLT 8000 drive for a production server, another DLT 8000 for testing development on a database server and a new Compaq server with a built-in DLTtape library.

Green Mountain distributes its specialty coffee worldwide, with the majority of its approximately $96 million yearly revenues coming from its wholesale operation that provides coffee for grocery and convenience stores. It runs its business on approximately 35 Compaq Windows NT servers with most of its business applications built on an Oracle database, a Peoplesoft ERP application, and some Microsoft Office 2000 suite applications. Servers are spread across three buildings and clients are in seven buildings. A frame relay network connects its five regional warehouses and a Gigabit Ethernet backbone links servers and wiring closets. With this system chugging along, Jim Prevo wanted to be certain Green Mountain could easily handle full daily backups.

Backups begin at the end of the business day to avoid compromising the performance of the live database during the backup. Prevo's team exports a copy of the database to a reporting database server and backs it up from there. The Oracle database uses about 110G Bytes of storage and Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft file servers have a combined backup requirement of between 30G bytes and 40G bytes. Prevo says the Quantum technology lets Green Mountain complete full backups in about four hours. "We perform backups from our servers to the backup server over our Gigabit Ethernet," Prevo explains. "Now we don't have to go to another building each day to harvest backup tapes. As soon as the backup is completed, we place the tapes in a fireproof safe right next to our help desk area to speed recoveries whenever they are needed."

With the Quantum DLTtape technology now in place Prevo has begun to map out some future plans. "With our backup and storage solidly set we have begun looking at some tiered application layers with PeopleSoft's Internet architecture. We can also think about faster and higher capacity database servers knowing that we can handle them," Prevo says. Green Mountain's investments in the tape drives and media have positioned it solidly for future growth, says Jim Jonez, the director of product marketing for Quantum's DLTtape group. "A roadmap like Green Mountain's is a vital part of the decision process," Jonez says, "and their backup and storage roadmap gives them a good foundation to build on."

For additional information on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc, visit their Web site

For more on Quantum, check out their Web site

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This was first published in May 2002

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