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Arizona city turns to startup Tarmin for archiving

To get rarely used data off of the primary storage system, the city of Safford, Ariz., picks GridBank archiving software from newcomer Tarmin Technologies over larger and more expensive alternatives from EMC and other big storage vendors.

The City of Safford, Ariz., turned to GridBank software from newcomer Tarmin Technologies Inc. to archive its data without busting its budget or overtaxing its three-person IT staff.

Safford, with a population of approximately 10,000, is also the Graham County seat, so its three-person IT group handles data for the entire county. That includes information for the police and fire departments, as well as the three utilities the city runs – water, gas and electric.

Safford's data is stored on Dell EqualLogic PS5500E iSCSI storage with approximately 10 TB –and uses Asempra Technologies' Business Continuity Server for backups. But IT supervisor Derek Kruger wanted to keep the EqualLogic storage area network (SAN) free for primary data, and had old storage hardware from a company that went out of business and some other smaller disk systems he could use.

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"I started noticing during backups [that] a lot of data is just there and nobody ever touches it," Kruger said. "It gets put up there and gets left alone. So I wanted to archive it."

The City of Safford's archiving needs are varied. Because the city runs its own utilities, the IT group has to keep water quality testing results. Water quality is tested three times a week, and the city retains the records for the last 10 years. Kruger also lets employees keep personal files like photos of staff birthday parties and music files on the SAN.

Kruger said he looked at archiving products, including market leader EMC Corp.'s Centera, a few years back but they were too much for his budget of less than $500,000 a year. He came upon Tarmin because a few of its executives used to work for Asempra. Kruger became one of GridBank's first beta testers, and found the product and its pricing to his liking. Pricing on GridBank starts at $35,000 list with a 2 TB license, and it runs with any server and storage hardware.

"You can use whatever you want for secondary or tertiary storage on the back end," Kruger said. "I just pointed the server at the storage and GridBank saw all that new storage out there and picked it up and used it. We also have some Buffalo Technology storage and Intel home-growns, and we use that as tertiary storage. I'm letting people put MP3 files on the network again because I have this special tier and it's not clogging up the EqualLogic boxes."

Kruger said his other option was to buy more storage capacity and keep all his data on one tier. "The biggest thing about GridBank is [that] it's freed up about half of what I had on primary storage," he said. "I've been able to go with less-expensive solutions to supplement my storage. Instead of having to spend another $40,000 on an additional storage system, I spent a couple of thousand dollars on disk drives and off-the-shelf Intel servers and plugged them in."

Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said because GridBank includes archiving, data migration, e-discovery and other features in one package, it saves smaller shops from having to buy extra applications for their archiving systems.

"Tarmin has a lot more on the policy engine side and other archiving products, and it has e-discovery in it," he said. "There are probable six or seven products you'd buy from EMC and others for the complete archiving picture, and Tarmin has tried to bring all of those pieces together. If I compare Tarmin's features to companies specializing in one part of e-discovery, on a best-of-breed basis it probably wouldn't size up. But a midsized company can get an integrated solution that covers archiving and its associated applications. If a company doesn't have five experts to deal with all of these pieces, this gives one guy something to work with from one console."

Kruger said he takes advantage of GridBank's policy management to keep any document that's been accessed within 90 days on primary storage, as well as e-discovery search capabilities that help Kruger find information relative to lawsuits without having to hire outside legal help.

"I used it when I started searching for data for a lawsuit," he said. "I was just able to go out and search. Discovery is laborious, but it really helped."


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