“Every Bit of your Storage is counted”. Yes this is very true about Symantec Enterprise vault, which will really allow you to utilize the storage to its maximum capacity while saving a lot of storage space. When we talk about value for money, I really think that Symantec Enterprise vault is right there at the top. I would like to prove my statement by means of a real world scenario, which I have experienced.
I have a customer, who invests a lot in Storage Infrastructure. The storage is mostly utilized by Microsoft Exchange server, which they use as their mailing solution and the File servers which are hosted on Windows 2003 Enterprise. This customer has 5 different offices in the Metro’s which are interconnected. The mailing server and file servers are centrally placed in the Head Office location connected with the Central Storage infrastructure.
Every Year, they allocated a budget for storage and used to procure the storage randomly once the space was completely utilized on the available once. I interacted with this customer when we were performing an upgrade on the file servers. On the way through this discussion, the customer started telling the problems that they were facing. Yes it was true that there were thousands of files in Terabytes that were stored on this storage. All users across all locations were accessing these files. The main issue that the customer was facing over here he didn’t know which files were in use and which were not. Due to this he was unsure about deleting them from the file server. All these files were getting stored from the last few years and were all mapped to the users and group home directory with proper rights and permissions. They were also facing issues with the space utilized by the Microsoft Exchange servers but it was not that huge as compared to the file servers.
I had heard about Symantec Enterprise vault before but had never worked on it. We approached the Symantec guys and seemed to be happy that there is a solution for such environments. Since most of the data was unstructured, it was hard to believe that Symantec Enterprise Vault would resolve all the issues. Still with the kind of confidence given to us by Symantec, we went ahead with the solution.
Deployment was not an issue at all and it seemed very simple with Symantec Tech Guys around. It easily integrated with the Windows File System on the first go. Shortly we were able to see reports like drive usage, which we linked it to the storage used, Storage Summary, List of Duplicate files and the space occupied by them, and the very important report on the unused files. And we were really surprised that about 65% of the files were very old and 40% of them were unused. So now we had two options either to delete them or to archive them, the later we preferred. Anyways, with the kind of archival solution that we had deployed, archival was always a better option. Before going any further, we expressed our concerns about user wanting to access the archived file. But to our surprise, they already had a planned solution for the same. They had installed Enterprise Vault File Server agent (FSA) on to our file servers. With this, they started archiving the files onto our secondary storage boxes and used a technology known as placeholders. With this technology, even though the files were archived, they were still present on the file server. Yes, they were really present with a clock symbol embedded on it indicating it as an archival file. We got two benefits from this technology, firstly it was very transparent to the user who could directly access the archived file and secondly 60% of the files were moved to a cheaper secondary storage box making up free space on the primary storage. Also to add to it, if the user deleted the placeholder item on the file server, Enterprise vault linked it to the actual archive and deleted the original file from the archival.
When we were actually checking the usage of the storage using the reports of Enterprise Vault, we found out that many of the user’s stored unwanted files like the audio and video files on the file server. Lot of space were occupied on the storage due these types of file. We figured out all these files and deleted them freeing up the storage. To prevent this from happening again, we used the Enterprise Vault File blocking rules. These rules allowed us to control the file types that the users could store on the file server. We blocked the files by specifying the file type extensions.
Now coming to the best part of the deployment, when Symantec Enterprise Vault archives a file, it creates a MD5 fingerprint on the file. This fingerprint is unique. If multiple files have this same finger print, Symantec Enterprise Vault saves this file only as a single instance. So in case there are 50 files of 1 MB consisting the same fingerprint, only 1 instance of 1 MB is created saving 49 MB of space. Due this amazing feature of Symantec EV, we were able to save a lot of space. In addition to this feature, Symantec Enterprise Vault uses Zlib compression technology to compress the files before storing them. This feature too dramatically saves a lot of storage space.
One of the features that the customer benefited from was the capability of Symantec Enterprise Vault to provide file Versioning. To give an example, the accounts team used an Excel sheet to update some financial data. The customer wanted each and every copy to be saved before the change, which they found it very difficult doing a manual save. Enterprise Vault helped the customer by creating versions of this file automatically. Enterprise Vault also added features like indexing, which made search very easy.
If EV features for the File Server was amazing, the features that EV provided for the Exchange server was astonishing. EV helped us in moving the PST files of all the users onto a single storage location. Like in the file servers, multiple instances of the similar messages and attachments were saved as a single instance saving a lot of storage space. The most common problems that the users faced were resolved. Users did not have to worry about the mails that were archived as Symantec EV provided Web access to these archived files.
EV seamless integrated with Microsoft Exchange Journaling. We configured EV to retain a copy of all the email messages that was sent from and received by the exchange server. Single instance storage did the trick in this case and even though we were retaining a copy of all the mails, this single instance technology saved a lot of storage space. This retention will also help the customer meet the regulatory compliance in the future.
EV helped us a lot in saving the storage space and recovering the used space. The reporting and monitoring feature of EV was excellent with the management getting all the required reports like the number of items archived per hour, Summary of the Vault store usage etc.
A good support always helps to retain a customer or in other words makes the Customer a CLIENT. Symantec Support is always the best regardless of what product you purchase. It was no different in this case and we got the required support from the Symantec Technical Assistance Centre whenever required. In fact we were happy to see that Symantec Support gave us a call back to follow us the case and to assist us further.
Now the situation in this customer’s environment has changed. They no longer have to budget the storage every year. They are still utilizing the storage that they had already purchased. Since all the mails are being retained by the EV, the backup window has been reduced and restoration has been made very easy. In fact the customer can retain any single email that was send or received by any user on any given time of the day. As with all Symantec products, the administration is GUI based. Once you work a bit on the product, you can really expertise on it with ease. For the end user, this archival is seamless and user can easily gain access to all information on a single location.
When you pay for a product, you expect the returns from it. EV not only gives you the return of investment you expect from a high quality product but also help you recover & save your storage space and make the best use of the available storage device. In fact you will find out that it will make you use every bit and block of the storage space. That’s where I started with my statement “Every Bit of your Storage is counted” and that’s where I would like to end this story. The Customer completely agrees with me and I hope you would too.