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Enterprise Backup Solutions - Best Bank for the Buck


I need to purchase backup hardware for the Army (Unix OS/Oracle DB).  The database will have only 30,000 users at first and the data will take 5 years to reach 1TB.  But we do not know yet how this application will evolve.  So, I need advice:

1.      Best hardware for scalability.
2.      Best hardware for reliability.
3.      Best hardware for the price.
4.      Best software for reliability.
5.      Best software for the price.
6.      Best software for ease of use.
7.      Drawbacks on automated backup systems.
8.      Anything I forgot to mention.

Your advice, thoughts, complaints are all welcome.

Thank you,
7 Solutions
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Hi pdlarue,
> 1.     Best hardware for scalability.
Personally, I like the Neo systems of Overland Data - I found them to be reliable and their design allows you to stack, I believe 4 of them.  Using LTO or SDLT, you can easily covery 1TB many times over (these libraries have 1 or 2 drives per unit and hold 22-26 tapes per unit, stacked 4 units deep, you can get 35+TB (native) on a fully loaded system).  And you can simply upgrade the drives at later dates to greater capacity.

> 2.     Best hardware for reliability.
NOT Dell.  Allbeit, that's my experience from 3+ years ago.  HP was OK.  I had several Overland NEO systems and they were all quite reliable.

> 3.     Best hardware for the price.
I know the lowest bid gets the job, but you don't want to skimp on backup.  Overland worked quite well for us.

> 4.     Best software for reliability.
> 5.     Best software for the price.
> 6.     Best software for ease of use.
Sorry, not familiar with Unix software systems.  You could run it from Windows using ArcServe or Veritas with an agent, but I'm not sure that's your best solution.

> 7.     Drawbacks on automated backup systems.
You have to be conscious of taking backups off site and not letting them sit in the library forever.

> 8.     Anything I forgot to mention.
Not sure... did you forget anything?

1,2,3 - Adaptec Snap Server 4500 - Scalable Network Attached Storage complete with SCSI card built in for attaching a tape backup drive if you don't trust the RAIDed hard drives.  

4,5,6 - I've heard several Unix/Oracle admins rave about Informix.

7 - Biggest drawback is getting overconfident in the job it's doing, only to discover too late that it wasn't doing it.  Always spot check the backups.

8 - If this is going to be in a hardened area make sure you regularly clean the guts of the equipment.  Hardened areas tend to become dust magnets when not in full hardened mode.  Depending on the area, you may also need some basic magnetic shielding and/or advanced power conditioning.  (I'm former AF, and have done contract stuff for all the branches - it's a whole different world in a lot of locations)

Good luck!
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Using a snap server is, in my opinion a bad idea - they are more expensive than just adding a couple hot swappable hard drives to a computer (in general).  If you want to do Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape, that's fine, but do not rely on anything that can't be moved off site.  If you don't provide off-site DR plans, I doubt they would consider your proposal.
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Duncan MeyersCommented:
1.     Best hardware for scalability.
Have a look at Sun/Storagetek's libraries

2.     Best hardware for reliability.
As above. LTO-3 tape technology is probably most suitable. There is also 9x40 tape technology thats even faster. You might consider disc staging as well - or virtual tape libraries.

3.     Best hardware for the price.
As above. You really are looking at an enterprise level backup solution.

4.     Best software for reliability.
EMC Networker, Symantec NetBackup, CommVault Galaxy.

5.     Best software for the price.
Choose the software on the solution set, not price. If you're Department of Defence, the vendors will have very sharp pencils.

6.     Best software for ease of use.
It's what you're used to. NetBackup people hate Networker and vice versa. They're all pretty good.

7.     Drawbacks on automated backup systems.
If it's properly set up, not a lot.

8.     Anything I forgot to mention.
Duncan MeyersCommented:
NetBackup and Networker come from a Unix background.
u can get any information  here

it's quite difficult to find the right hardware which would meet all ur demands(1,2,3)
what does "Best hardware for the price" mean for u? give range, please

As for backup software :  Acronis True Image 9.1 Server for linux(but u should check it up : http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/support/ )
I agree with meyersd but woud add:

2)  As much as I'm a fan of LTO technology ('tis what I use), the 9840 and 9940 drive are far more reliable (and expensive). the 98 series is designed for very fast access and thus only hold about 40GB.  the 99 series is designed to be a robust LTO2 competitor and holds 200GB native.  If I could've afforded the 99's, I would have gotten them, but they're about 2.5 times the cost of LTO2 (*when I looked*) and I couldn't justify it for our requirements.

5)  just make sure it does what you need - eg, has the relevant agents, supports your OS's, can be configured to alert as you want, write multiple copies etc etc.  We use Veritas Netbackup which works really well mostly - you have to watch them with their maintenance pack releases though as they often re-introduce bugs: I'm hoping Symantec will clamp down on this since the April restructure.  Never used the others but I'm sure they're equally capable and have their own quirks.

7) complacency.  just make sure to test regularly.  and make sure you have multiple copies of your back-up just in case you get a dud tape/lost tape/inexplicably destroyed tape.  we write 2 copies and keep 1 in the library to allow immediate restore and send the 2nd off to an Iron Mountain type facility.

8) don't forget to factor in maintenance costs and support.  eg, vs2 support for veritas is about 23% of the purchase price...each year.  I think that's expensive, but equally their netbackup support tends to be really good, expecially when the chips are down.  be sure to get somre references regards the support experiences for whichever hardware/software vendors you shortlist.
Also, never use it myself, but you might find the need to encrypt your tapes.  be sure to check how it's done between the various options, and what your recovery options are as a result.
pdlarueAuthor Commented:

I could tell by your lingo that you have military experience.  Cool!


This is all great advice!  I'll be posting another question about disk-to-disk for 500 points in a minute.  Just don't want to be stingy with the points, if you know what I mean.

Thanks a bunch,
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