Disk-based storage a hit at Metlifecare

Under the new arrangement, data and key databases are backed up every quarter of an hour

Moving from a tape-based storage environment last year to a disk-based one has paid dividends for retirement village operator Metlifecare, says Kai Sander, the company’s IT manager.

“We used to have to get tapes back from offsite storage, which took two hours, then it took another two hours to catalogue it.

“The whole day would be gone, just to restore one file.”

Metlifecare had used several tape-based packages over the previous 10 years, most recently Symantec Backup Exec. When licensing for that product was up for renewal last year, it was a good opportunity to consider a new backup system, says Sander.

The system chosen was StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect Server Edition, and it got the go-ahead partly because Metlifecare was already a StorageCraft customer — it had earlier replaced Symantec’s Ghost disk cloning product with an offering from StorageCraft.

Attending a StorageCraft seminar convinced Sander that extending Metlifecare’s use of StorageCraft to the backup function was the right move, he says.

“After I got back from the seminar, we trialled it and I thought ‘I haven’t seen anything better.’”

Metlifecare acquired eight licences for StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect Server Edition, which provides backup services for Windows servers. Implementation was made easier by the fact Metlifecare was using VMware and that StorageCraft and VMware are partners, Sander says.

However, even if Metlifecare hadn’t been a VMware site, “it wouldn’t really have mattered — we would probably still have chosen StorageCraft.”

Under the new arrangement, data and key databases are backed up every quarter of an hour “and it’s proven itself when people have deleted files and we’ve got them back within 15 minutes.”

The set-up works like this: Servers running Windows XP are connected to a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) with a terabyte of capacity. Backups are copied from the RAID to a USB SATA drive that is kept offsite.

“We don’t have to shuffle tapes back and forth,” Sander says. The decreasing price of external USB-SATA has made that arrangement more feasible than in the past, he says.

While Symantec Backup Exec was the product that was displaced by StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect, it was more a case of tape storage needing to be replaced by a disk-based package, rather than any specific problems with Backup Exec, Sander says.

“Tape products are all the same, and we’ve used several over the past 10 years.”

Another plus about switching to disk-based backup last year was that it meant Metlifecare’s IT staff didn’t have to go to work and change tapes over the holiday period, he says.

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