Little, big storage
Compugen finds space-saving, scalable storage solution
Compugen found Overland Data's tape drives to be the right fit for backing up data in a high-rent data center.
By M.C. Kincora
With storage requirements at their co-location site growing over 200G bytes annually, Compugen Ltd.'s decision to shop for a highly scalable storage backup solution was a no-brainer. Finding the right system turned out to be a brainteaser, however, because the high cost of rented rack space forced Compugen to look for big storage in a small package.
"Our challenge was not to compromise in features and functionality to get the scalability and small form factor we needed," says Gary Mulder, systems administrator for Compugen, a computational genomics software and services provider with headquarters in Jamesburg, N.J., and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Compugen's Web site, LabOnWeb, is an important sales channel for its product and services. The site is hosted by Exodus Communications, an Internet hosting provider in Weehawken, N.J., and about 600G bytes of Web and database information is currently stored there. Meanwhile, corporate operations and research data from their internal network are stored on Network Appliance, Inc. NetApp filers at the company's U.S. headquarters.
In mid-2000, Compugen realized the need for a scaleable backup solution "to ensure that if the any storage servers went down we could restore the data rapidly," says Mulder. "Our data is our product. So, losing it would be disastrous," says Mulder. "As for our Web presence, it has to be 24x7. So, we had to have rapid response capability if a server went down."
The first step in the search for backup solutions was to consider outsourcing. "We looked at farming out all our storage to a service provider, but we didn't want to lose control over it," says Mulder. "We're adding a few gigabytes of data per month. If we do a major update, then the backup and management of the backup have to be very tightly integrated with our databases. We could end up paying two to three times the cost of a backup solution if we outsourced everything, because our data is so dynamic."
With outsourcing not an option, Compugen began evaluating backup technologies. "Tape was the only option, because it fits our need for high-density storage in a small form factor," says Mulder. Right away, Mulder eliminated Digital Linear Tape, because the drives take up too much room. So, he began checking out 8mm, Sony Corp.'s AIT-2 technology and Exabyte Corp.'s Mammoth-2 drives.
Besides Exabyte's Mammoth-2 drive, Compugen evaluated AIT tape solutions from such vendors as Overland Data, Inc. and Spectral Logic, Inc. Mammoth wasn't chosen, even though it offered "the most performance per cubic inch," because it's a single vendor option. "In AIT-2, we had more choice in libraries," says Mulder. "Also, the AIT roadmap, with the upcoming AIT-3, gives us a strong growth path."
Compugen chose San Diego, Calif.-based Overland Data's AIT-2 drives, because the company offered excellent support and products with features that fit Compugen's needs like a glove. In the features area, the fact that Overland Data's LibraryPro tape libraries come in compact modules was a big plus. "The modules allow us to use only the number of drives we need at that moment," says Mulder. "The modularity is something that we couldn't find from other vendors. We would have had to buy more than we needed at this point in order to be ready for the future."
Local support came from Huntington, N.Y.-based HorizonTek, a nearby VAR that sold the Overland Data units to Compugen and provided invaluable help with integration, according to Mulder. Compugen installed two Overland Data LibraryPro tape libraries with Sony's AIT-2 technology, one in the company's offices and another at the co-location site. A 3-module unit with 6T bytes of compressed storage resides at the company headquarters. A 2-module, 4T-byte library backs up data from NetApp filers and UNIX servers, which serve the LabOnWeb site.
Both libraries are connected to dedicated Sun Microsystems, Inc. backup servers running Syncsort Inc.'s Backup Express for standard UNIX backups and NDMP backups for the NetApp filers. Remote management of the co-located library is done via Overland's WebTLC software, which enables network administrators to remotely monitor and manage libraries through a Web browser.
Having a scalable, high-performance backup system has given Mulder and Compugen peace of mind. "In terms of our backups, we can meet our timetables," says Mulder. "We can back up our data every night and not impact our day-to-day business. We can make our backup windows and be sure that our data in our office and our co-lo site are secure."
For more information about Overland Data, visit their Web site.
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