Managing short backup windows on a budget
by Linda Christie
With users spanning multiple time zones, many servers must be available close to 24x7. "Almost anytime we take a server down for maintenance, it's a bad time," said Wayne Fountain, CTO for PlanetUplink, an ASP that outsources a wide variety of applications.
To reduce server downtime for backup operations, Fountain prefers not to use mirroring technology to capture a snapshot of a server's disk, "If the mirror disk gets corrupted and it's not caught, you're looking at the previous night's restore anyway," he said.
To provide reliable, cost-effective backups, Fountain shortens backup windows by first backing up to high-speed media. "We put two network cards into each server: a public card that users access and a private card connected to a separate network dedicated for backup processes," Fountain said. "Then we back up the server to a storage area network drive array as a temporary holding place."
"More importantly, we have recycled our retired servers and hard drives to handle backups from the arrays to tape. Since we're not worried about high speed at the temporary holding place, we can use DAT arrays instead of SAN devices to do tape spooling. Sometimes that can take all day. However, by using this method, we've cut costs considerably and can pass that on to the end user."
For additional information about PlanetUplink, visit their Web site at
About the author: Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.
This was first published in February 2001