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Overland Storage Tape Libraries

Posted on 2010-09-24
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I currently have a Overland Neo Storage 2000 series tape library with four scsi connections connected to 4 servers. I received a new Neo 200s series backup using the LTO-4 tapes but it only has 2 scsi connections. Is it possible to use the Newer Neo 200s in replacement of the Neo 2000 series. The LTO-4 i'm told is much faster and you're able to backup larger volumes of data.
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Question by:Torre374
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by:A2the6th
ID: 33755616
It sounds like you are asking if you can take the new drives from the new chassis and put them into the older chassis.  In all likely hood the drives will fit but they won't be recognized by the Neo 2000 as higher speed drives unless there is something in the firmware that allows the Neo 2000 to see that.  I have tried similar tests with a single drive Overland loader express.  Ultimately I was unsuccessful in getting the drives to work.  This may be a question specifically for Overlands support.  
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by:Torre374
ID: 33757078
Sorry if my question wasnt understandable to some.. My question is If i replaced the Neo 2000 with the newer Neo 200s would it work since the newer overland storage unit only has two scsi connection
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SelfGovern earned 300 total points
ID: 33759893
You can only have one device use a tape drive at once.    SCSI allows for only a single physical connection... so you're doubly out of luck with any real "sharing"... However -- you can connect drive 1 to server 1, and drive 2 to server 2, then use servers 1 and 2 as backup servers, each backing up a second server (or, one server could back up itself and two others if the load worked out).

Things to be aware of -- LTO-4 drives write at 120 MB/second and can scale down to as little as 40MB/second without suffering buffer underrun (sometimes called shoeshining).    You'll want to make sure you can feed the tape drives at least 50MB/sec times the compression ratio of your data (typically in the 1.3:1 or 1.4:1 range -- that is, approx. 70MB/second to avoid excessive wear on the drives and media.  
If you can't do that, consider turning _off_ hardware compression -- you'll use a few more tapes, but the tapes and your drives will last a lot longer.

Or, you could (depending on your backup application) interleave your backup jobs, putting two servers intermingled on one tape... but while improving your backups, this will also likely make your restores take longer.

And a General Principles note -- to avoid issues of having backup servers and SCSI or SAS tape drives that can't be truly shared, many people buy Fibre Channel attach tape drives.   These can be shared if you have the SAN or Shared Storage option of your backup program (that option acts as a traffic cop, telling a server that it can or cannot use a particular resource, and locking it if it's busy) -- but... that option can be quite expensive.

Also -- LTO-4 and higher can use hardware encryption if enabled by your tape library or backup application.   Consider using encryption as required by law, and in addition, for any data that may contain customer financial data (credit card info, Social Security numbers, financial accounts, etc.), any other sensitive information, and certainly for any health care data (which is highly regulated in the USA, at least).  If you don't, and an unencrypted tape gets lost, you can be in deep do-do very quickly.
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by:Gerald Connolly
Gerald Connolly earned 100 total points
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The quick answer to your question is No!
The long answer is maybe!    Its possible to daisy-chain SCSI, it is a bus after all, what you need to do is daisy-chain 2 servers to one port and the other 2 servers to the other. You need to use a "Y" connector on each server, and turn off all the terminators in the servers and use an external terminator (you are only allowed to use 2 terminators on a bus - one on each end naturally!)
Then you need to schedule use of the drives so that only one server is accessing a drive at any one time.
NB This will slow down your SCSI bus (more collisions)
Or you can do what SELFGOVERN suggests. If you don't feel happy about setting up the SCSI as i have described then using 2 of the servers as backup servers for the other two is a simple setup, but may involve considerable upgrade costs.
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by:andyalder
ID: 33769144
It's very strange to have 4 servers connected one to each tape drive in a library, only one of those servers can drive the robot so you must have some software that's acting a bit like the shared storage option of software that''s made to drive shared SAN based libraries but that's aware of the one to one mapping of the drives. What software are you using?
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by:SelfGovern
ID: 33769985
Maybe not so strange; I know that the HP MSL 2024/4048/8096 can be partitioned to appear as separate libraries (one up to as many tape drives as are installed), and I assume others can do likewise.
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by:andyalder
ID: 33770498
You're right, I'd forgotten about that.
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by:ArneLovius
ArneLovius earned 100 total points
ID: 33779317
You can partition NEO libraries, but I usually prefer to have individual libraries for each server, or have a backup server to aggregate the backup.

That said, doing it on a NEO2000 isn't somethign I'm sure about it being possible without an extra card in it. I have done it on an 8000, but that was to partition a full rack 8000 into 3 logical devices.

These days with LTO4, we just have three Neo 2000 libaries

So in andswer to your question, I think you have a partitioning card in your current NEO (which to connect to 4 servers would have to be a 4000, not a 2000), and this is what is allowing you to connect multiple servers. The 200s does not have this capability it is a single server _only_ connection.

You could speak to Overland about getting LTO4 or LTO5 drives for your NEO2000.
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by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 33784230
Well its down to the software - What software are you using? - One node acting as a master and talking to the robot, and the other nodes, sending their control commands to the master via IP.
What's unusual about that?
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by:Torre374
ID: 33789409
Thank everyone for your input on this. The help is much appreciated. Its  Neo Series  2000 tape library and the software thats being used is CA 12.5 archserve backup. Do you think its possible to configure the software to bckup all the other servers.
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by:ArneLovius
ID: 33789962
You will need to purchase agents for the other servers.
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by:SelfGovern
SelfGovern earned 300 total points
ID: 33793557
Absolutely possible.   As Arne says,  you can set one system up as a backup server, and then buy the client license for the other servers it will back up.   All data will then go through the backup server to the tape drives.

The challenge here is that you will need to be careful to make sure the data paths are optimized and feeding the tape drive fast enough to avoid shoe-shining and premature drive or media failure.   To do this, multiply the minimum streaming speed of the drive (LTO-4 probably 40MB/second) by the maximum compressibility of your data, and add a 'fudge factor'.   Most people tell me that their data compresses about 1.3:1 or 1.4:1... so figure 1.5:1, which means you'll want to feed data to *each* tape drive at at least 60MB/second.   This will tax most servers' disk subsystems, and could be a problem for unoptimized Ethernet connections as well.  

Optimizing your backups is a whole 'nother treatise...   But if one server can't handle that 60MB/sec *2 (may be higher if your data is more compressible!), then consider partitioning your library (if possible), having two backup servers with each backing up itself and one of the other servers.    
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by:Torre374
ID: 33800277
Thanks Arne & SelfGovern

So i need to install the client on each server that will need backing up.
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by:SelfGovern
SelfGovern earned 300 total points
ID: 33801846
Yes... a system can be a backup server or a client... in any case, it needs something loaded on it to allow it to connect to the tape drive.   Client licenses normally are cheaper than backup server licenses (HP Data Protector, for instance only licenses the backup devices, not the clients).
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by:ArneLovius
ID: 33802791
Client licences are _always_ less expensive than server licences, but if you already have a server licence, you might have to pay extra for the client licences. Your maintenance costs should decrease enough to show a positive ROI in less than 12 months...
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by:Torre374
ID: 33841499
Thanks everyone for the information  you guys gave is very valuable in helping with this.
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