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Entity Solutions’ exploding server soon proves value of Tandberg Data's continuous data protection

  • 30 May, 2008 14:58

<p>It took just three months for professional engagement services provider Entity Solutions to prove the value of a continuous data protection solution based on Tandberg Data technology.</p>
<p>The crunch came on Australia Day this year. When Melbourne temperatures soared above 40ºC, a data centre server overheated, blew up and caught fire. But thanks to a multi-tier networked backup and retrieval solution implemented three months earlier, the company was up and running again within 1½ hours. Under the previous setup, operations would have been down for at least three days.</p>
<p>Entity Solutions combines consulting, management, engagement and migration services for independent professionals (IPros) and the organisations engaging them. The IT system holds data on more than 3,000 customers, staff and consultants. The company also has offices in Sydney and Brisbane.</p>
<p>Entity Solutions runs 2003 server applications plus Exchange. Infrastructure includes a Windows 2003 terminal server, a server for the main Oracle Enterprise database, and a JBoss3 web server running Java applications. Virtual infrastructure is handled by a VMWare ESX server. There are 70-80 desktops.</p>
<p>Network Administrator, Vinayak Sharma, said Entity Solutions had been relying on a very small infrastructure, basically a centralised computer serving all the company’s terminals on a single network.</p>
<p>“Its design problems left us without reliable backup techniques and we were unable to support offsite replication. When the main server failed and our backup system broke down at Christmas 2003, disks had to be sent to a forensics specialist for data retrieval.”</p>
<p>Sharma said the company briefed Tandberg Data reseller Computer One on the need for a flexible solution to protect all areas: applications and customer systems, the Oracle server, file servers and terminal servers.</p>
<p>Computer One worked with Entity Solutions to design and implement a multi-tier solution comprising two wide area networks (WANs), one at head office and the other serving a second data centre in the company’s Brisbane office. The storage equipment was supplied and supported by Datastor.</p>
<p>Existing virtual private networks (VPNs) allow unlimited data transfers. Two new Tandberg Data Viking FS-1610 NAS (network-attached storage) servers, each with 4TB capacity, hold data for each WAN, while backup and restore technology in the form of Tandberg’s continuous data protection (CDP) solution supported by FalconStor’s Replication Agent provides the offline safeguard. Computer One also installed WAN acceleration and compression devices in combination with a wide area file system.</p>
<p>Entity’s top priority was protection of the Oracle database server. As well as CDP, the company wanted WAN replication with built-in local redundant hosts and a host in the remote data centre. Apart from a similar disaster recovery (DR) and CDP solution for the other servers, they wanted to move from thin client to a traditional client/server model over a 2Mb WAN.</p>
<p>An FS-1610 NAS unit in the Brisbane office is used as RAID array storage units on an iSCSI SAN. This delivers a flexible storage platform able to mount, replicate and snapshot the raw disk LUNs whatever the platform or operating system. Computer One used the existing Windows 2003 Storage Server operating system for Windows file store operations and volume shadow copy, then combined this with Falconstor CDP Products to produce a system capable of near instant volume restores.</p>
<p>A Tandberg Data T40+ tape storage library at head office, with 16TB capacity (20 Tapes x 800GB each), represents the final piece in the puzzle. It is a high capacity unit with high throughput to backup large volumes of data, including point-in-time snapshots. The T40+ represents both the final line of defence in the recovery strategy, and the long term storage archive. It will allow Entity Solutions to add slots and tape drives in the future while meeting network objectives today.</p>
<p>The new solution takes regular snapshots of Oracle volumes at head office, and replicates these at the Brisbane site. Similarly it handles the Exchange environment and file servers with the help of VMWare for virtual backup. In this way, all data is protected at customer-defined intervals, with agreed recovery point objectives and time objectives. Data is backed-up every 40 minutes.</p>
<p>The CDP solution went live in October 2007, just before Entity Solutions’ NAS file server blew up in January 2008, compromising all virtual servers and data.</p>
<p>“The data replication process worked well, and our investment paid off big time when our server blew up and caught fire,” said Vinayak Sharma. “The new system had us up and running again in 1½ hours and we lost only 40 minutes’ worth of data. The restore would have been faster, but for communication issues unrelated to the data protection solution. In normal circumstances our head office system would have been down for at least three days, severely impacting on our business and damaging our reputation for exceptional customer service. The episode certainly vindicated our management’s investment decision.”</p>

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