Easing Server Sprawl and Storage Traffic Load: Page 2

Posted April 19, 2004

Drew Robb

Drew Robb

(Page 2 of 2)

Backup Woes

The amount of data being backed up had increased from 260G to 600G over the course of one year. A full backup took from Friday night till late on Sunday. Even a differential backup took the entire night.

"Differential backups during the week wouldn't get completed as some users were logging on at 6 or 7 a.m.," said Madewell. "We really struggled to get any kind of a backup done."

Result: Many open files weren't getting backed up, and early-morning users were faced with very slow backups and sluggish applications. SWS was forced to purchase a lot of tapes and two additional HP DLT tape drives to supplement its existing QualStar Tape Library.

This situation prompted Madewell to look into storage resource management (SRM) as a possible solution. He loaded a demo copy of BrightStor SRM by Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates onto one server for testing. Initial results led to it purchase.

Madewell says the cost came to about $4,000 for software, $2,000 for maintenance and another $3,000-$4,000 for agents placed on nine storage servers used for storage. After two days of installation and configuration, SWS had eliminated almost 25G of data from these nine servers.

Backup, too, has improved markedly. A full backup now takes one day less than before and differential backups have been speeded up by several hours.

"We haven't had a server down due to storage issues in almost a year," said Madewell. "Additionally, we haven't needed to add any more servers in order to provide user storage."

Not everything was rosy with the implementation, however. SWS encountered reporting issues due mainly to the language used to write scripts -- Enterprise Definition Language (EDL). The first elaborate script he tried to assemble took almost 90 minutes.

"The basic reports were a bit too high-level for us so we needed more granular data such as file owner name and a list of the top 20 storage users," said Madewell. "As we didn't know EDL, the syntax was the biggest killer and learning it proved to be really challenging."

Madewell notes, though, that a newer version of the software comes with a scripting wizard. He says he can complete complex scripts in 5 to 10 minutes.

Another problem focused on Windows XP. Reports were hard to run from XP clients. This bug was recently fixed in a service pack, he says. Thus Madewell can run reports on storage from his laptop no matter where he connects to the network.

Overall, Madewell says, he is happy with the system. He estimates savings of $30,000 per year by not having to purchase additional storage servers. That figure, he says, doesn't take into account three or four hours of time saved in IT each day.

"Instead of manually searching each directory for rogue files, we can now monitor the proper usage of our entire storage environment from one console," said Madewell. "We only have to add hardware when we truly need it."

Story courtesy of Datamation.com.

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