Backups used to be simple. Attach a disk array to a tape drive and away you went. Then the volume of data mushroomed, and things got a little bit more complicated. Now, with so many virtualized systems to deal with, backups can be problematic.
At professional engineering firm Wade Trim, for example, the move to a virtualized environment resulted in severe backup slows. According to Scott Landrum, senior network administrator at the company, the backup window at one of its data centers stretched from 14 hours prior to virtualization to three full days.
“Backup throughput dropped from 2,000 Mb/minute to 400 Mb/min,” said Landrum of Wade Trim, a 350 employee firm headquartered in Detroit with a total of 21 offices in 8 states. As well as engineering, it provides planning, landscape architecture, operations, surveying and environmental science services.
Wade Trim was backing up 14 TB of Windows data throughout the enterprise. In addition to the office’s files, the company had to backup lots of large CAD, GIS and image files. Two-thirds of the data sat on 25 Windows servers and an EMC Clariion cx3-based SAN at the head office. The company had three trays of CX-3 disks served by two SAN switches. At this location, everything was backed up onto a Dell PowerVault TL4000 tape library. As local branches generally had only one or two Windows servers, data was being backed up onto much smaller Dell PowerVault tape libraries.
A Bump in the Road
Things started to go awry in the backup department, however, when the company began to march forward with its virtualization plans using Windows Hyper-V, first in its Detroit and Tampa locations. While the traditional gains from virtualization were experienced (e.g., better IT efficiency, server consolidation), its backup processes took a severe hit.
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