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Speeding Remote Backup

March 3, 2009

Summary

The Iowa Department of Revenue uses Veritas NetBackup PureDisk to reduce the backup window for important government data from its remote offices.

More data than time

The Iowa Department of Revenue was in a bind—it was taking too many hours to back up over 200 gigabytes of data from its remote offices to the central data center. The agency’s 400 employees provide not only services for revenue collection, but also research, analysis, and information and resource management. This important data was taking longer and longer to fully protect, and restoring data was similarly slow, directly impacting productivity. “We do a full backup of our field servers every weekend, and it was taking us 26 hours from start to finish,” says Mark Wise, network engineer. “Data would trickle through the network to our tape drive and it would write a little bit of data to tape, and then wait for more data. It would take too long, tying up the tape drive and preventing us from using it to back up any other servers.” The department was using Symantec Backup Exec and was pleased with the high success rate of its backups and restores, but the performance bottleneck over remote office data was becoming a burden on the systems and the system administrators.

PureDisk in the field

In November 2007, the Department installed Veritas NetBackup PureDisk Remote Office Edition on a trial basis to help reduce the field office backup times. By January 2008, the system was in full production, backing up all the field offices at a success rate of 100 percent. The PureDisk system performed initial full backups from each remote office to an HP Proliant DL320s storage server at the central data center. After the initial full backups, only changed data blocks were sent, drastically cutting backup times. In addition to conserving time by only passing along incremental changes, PureDisk’s data compression feature conserved data bandwidth as well. In all, the process drastically cut the department’s backup window. “With PureDisk, we’ve reduced the time it takes for a full backup of our field servers from 26 hours to less than an hour,” says Wise. “Also, it’s not consuming the tape drive, so we can run multiple jobs. Before, we used to have to split up our backup jobs so we could manage them within the time window. With PureDisk, we’ve managed to reduce 60 backup jobs down to 14.” Incremental backups have been reduced by 23 percent as well, Wise notes.

Faster recovery and disaster ready

Another key benefit was the ability to reduce the time to restore servers or volumes. According to Wise, one of the chief drawbacks was identifying the correct tapes, loading them, and waiting for restores from multiple tapes. With PureDisk, no tape mounting is necessary. “You just point and click,” he says. “It takes just 15 minutes—which is over 30 times faster.”
The Department now plans to implement a more advanced disaster recovery plan that will entail replicating the central storage server to an offsite location, also using PureDisk. This out-of-band replication will not impact production servers and will give the Department a complete mirror of its data center at an alternate, secure site. “The goal is to do this during the day, so at night we’ll run our regular backups and during the day we’ll replicate the PureDisk system changes over to an off-site DR location,” says Wise. “This way, we’ll be able to recover servers almost instantly.”

Benefits to the Iowa Department of Revenue

The Department saw almost immediate payback after installing PureDisk in its data center and remote offices. Among the improvements are:
  • A 96% reduction in backup time for remote office data
  • PureDisk backups have had a 100% completion rate
  • The total number of backup jobs reduced by 77%
  • Daily backup administration reduced by 50%
  • Data recovery time is 31% faster
  • Enhanced troubleshooting capabilities and more thorough data backups
Mark Wise notes that PureDisk has made its remote office backup and recovery more reliable and efficient, resulting in time and labor savings. And since recovery times are faster, his staff can accommodate many more restores, improving the Department’s productivity.
Click here to read the full Iowa Department of Revenue Customer Success story.

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