Advanced Data Backup Solution Needed

Posted on 2008-06-12
Last Modified: 2013-12-01
We have a client that is an architectural firm that is backing up a total of 1TB of data for the entire enterprise.

The data is broken into the following:
- SBS Server - Domain Controller
- IBM Storage Array (eight 10k Drives) (total of 700GB of project files) - iSCSI connection.
- Dell PowerEdge 2900 server (Clients Exchange Server 2007 running on windows 2008)(Joined to domain as a member)

We installed a brand new Exabyte Magnum 224 autoloader (LT04-10 tapes loaded) which is connected directly to the new Dell PowerEdge 2900 Exchange server.  

At present, the client wishes to do a daily backup, but to do so would take 18 hours for 1TB of data. Client would like the entire daily backup done in less than 7-8 hours.  So we are currently doing incremental monday-thursday and full on Friday.

We believe that the IBM Storage array with it's 10k drives and iSCSI connection is slowing down the process of the backup, in addition to the large CAD Drawing project files that hardly compress.  The IBM Storage array connects to a Gigabit 3COM switch and then back to the SBS Domain Controller.

Proposed Solution:
We are proposing replacing the Small Business Server domain controller with a new Dell PowerEdge 2900 with about 2TB of data, installing Backup Exec 12 (with appropriate agents) and doing a metal to metal backup from all sources and then doing a secondary backup from the new 2900 server to the Magnum 224 autoloader.


We are looking for some high-level assistance here.  This has been quite a challenging setup and current technology seems  not to be up to the task.

Thank you.
Question by:mikensales
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Accepted Solution

Share-IT earned 500 total points
ID: 21773958
How fast are your backups running? The reason i ask is that an LTO4 drive needs data streamed to it at 40MB/sec as an absolute minimum. Take compression into account and you need to pulling about 50 - 60MB/sec off of the disks. Any slower and you'll be "shoe shining" which is where the drive writes some stuff to tape then the buffers run out of data so the tape has to stop - rewind - reposition and start writing again. The the buffers run out and the tape stops..... hence the "shoe shine". Whilst all of this happens, the backup is effectively paused. Before you do anything drastic, you need to decide for definate what the bottleneck is, 8x10k disks should be able to stream to the drive - i can pull 50-60MB/sec from 6x10k disks on an Exchange DB backup so you should be fine. Are the disks contended (i.e. have you got two backup jobs running from the same set of spindles simultaneously)? If so this will cause excessive seeks and slow response times.

As a side note, the 3COM switch might actually be the issue as for iSCSI you should have all sorts of stuff on there like Jumbo Frame support and a myriad of other advanced features that aren't usually available on lower end switches.
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 21777535
I agree, a LTO-4 drive should be able to backup 1TB in at least 3 hours. Even at 40MB/s it should take less than 7 hours, so if its taking 18 hours then you obviously have shoe-shining.

You need to work out the datapath for the backups and check the avialable bandwidth for each link and device in the path, and then concentrate on the bottlenecks. Try checking what the actual bandwidth of each individual link is.


Author Comment

ID: 21778130
I logged into the SBS Server and have the following results.
6-7-2008 was the full backup: 19:20:30 hours | 1,008,732,979,389 | 833.71 MB/min
Last nights incremental backup: 2:48:45 | 115,171,288,689 | 694.43 MB/min

Does this help?
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With cloud storage prices going down a growing number of SMBs start to use it for backup storage. Unfortunately, business data volume rarely fits the average Internet speed. This article provides an overview of main Internet speed challenges and reveals backup best practices.


Expert Comment

ID: 21778282
Ooof. Approx 10-15MB/sec. Your disks will definately be able to dish up more than that. Run a perfmon whilst the backups are running to monitor the disk queues. Run it on all instances for READ access.

What is the actual model of the 3COM switch and the Storage Array.

Author Comment

ID: 21778962
Share-IT:  It is an IBM TotalStorage DS300.
The switch is a 3COM Gigabit Switch 5 (
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 21779226
How are things connected (ie what is connected where and how many)?
How are you backing up this data?
Does the data have to do dual transits of the same bit of wire?

Author Comment

ID: 21779285
The DS300 is connected to the 3COM Gigabit Switch 5 via patch cable. Then another patch cable runs from the 3COM Gigabit Switch 5 into the IBM Eserver Xseries 345 - SBS Server 2003.

The Magnum 224 autoloader is connected via SCSI cable to a seperate PCI Controller in the SBS Server.

LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 21779484

So only 1*GbE connection from the storage to the switch and one connection to the SBS server?

What about the other server how does it fit in? How is that connected.

Is all the data on the SBS server or is some coming from the other server?

Author Comment

ID: 21779546
Most data is on the DS300.  The ds300 has to iSCSI ports.  The DS300 is configured only for one port.  There is an iSCSI card on the SBS 2003 server.  The 3com switch is connecting the two devices.  The new 2900 dell server (exchange server) is connected to their main network switch.

Expert Comment

ID: 21784571
I'm assuming that the autoloader is terminated correctly? The 1Gb NICs will, at the very best, be able to supply about 80MB per second (usually more like 70MB) so that shouldn't be the bottle neck. My money is on one of the following:

1. wrong configuration of the SCSI card that runs the tape drive - there used to be an issue with adaptec cards picking up the windows drivers which were sloooow (about the speeds you're seeing). If you are using an adaptec card - download the drivers from their site.

2. the switch is not correctly configured for iSCSI - Jumbo frames, flow control, full duplex, etc. That is even if even IF it supports it. That's really not a high end switch and more than likely - that's the issue. iSCSI switches should at least be business class switches - preferable Cisco (IMHO).

3. the SCSI port in the server - is it an U320 port?

Sorry we've not pinned it down yet but looking at the config/kit, this should just work (except the switch of course).


Author Closing Comment

ID: 31466749
We went ahead and replaced the 3com switch with a different swtich.  There wasn't any dramatic change in speed.  I want to award points to Share-IT because of the additional ideals he provided. Thank you.

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