Storage/Backup Suggestions

Posted on 2013-11-01
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I work for an entity within a university that does biopharma work. We have our own network behind a firewall and a datacenter consisting of 8-10 servers with an aging Dell tape backup (PV132T) and an old 8TB Dell/EMC fibre channel SAN. I have been lucky over the last few years to be able to replace drives in the PV132T and extend its life but I need to find a different solution. A solution that would allow me to replace both of these with one new device.

I am wondering what recommendations some may have for hardware to replace our tape backup and SAN with an "all in one" sort of device that has storage we can allocate (SAN) but also can be configured to do backups with hot swap-able drives that could be removed and stored remotely. We currently store our tape backups remotely and would like to do the same with any disk drive backups...we're not interested in cloud-based remote backups.

Thanks for any suggestions
Question by:jb61264
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 39616675
Any particular budget or performance requirements?

Author Comment

ID: 39616735
No real set budget requirements.

As far as performance, the SAN we have now is fibre channel which in my opinion is overkill (we don't have a high I/O throughput). I would like to have at least 12-16TB of useable storage...maybe more necessary since I want to also be able to do backups to hard drives I can swap in and out and store remotely
LVL 20

Accepted Solution

SelfGovern earned 500 total points
ID: 39618722
With all due respect, I think you are asking for trouble with the solution you're thinking about.  Here's why:

1) Hard drives are not designed to, nor expected to, retain data when stored for months without power.  There is a built-in process that checks signal strength and integrity that runs when the drive is powered... and doesn't when it's not, which means you can have an entire drive corrupted without warning when it's on a shelf unpowered.
2) Commercial hot-plug backplanes in business-class servers are normally designed for a couple dozen plug/unplug cycles.  You risk damaging an expensive piece of equipment for a bit of convenience.
3) You want to keep your production data and your backup data on the same storage?  This, sir, is known in IT circles as insanity.  You need a backup as *far* as possible from your production data.
4) Pharmaceutical work often has very long-term storage requirements.  How long are you required by contract, law, or internal requirements to keep your data?  If it's more than a year, disk is probably a much more expensive solution than you realize, either due to reliability or electricity requirements.

You might not like tape, but it's still the best solution for long-term storage of backups.  
Perhaps ideally you could cooperate with two other universities so that each of you replicates production data to one of the sites, and backup data to the other.  There are solutions to allow you to do that, such as HP's MSA 2000 (which supports SAS or iSCSI connect, if you don't want to stay with Fibre Channel) and many others, where the replication is controlled by the array itself.

Better yet, decide your requirements for your primary storage, then your requirements for your backup, and consider two separate solutions.  You can still use the MSA 2000, and do a replication to a second site for your primary data; you can buy what you need and expand it later way past what you'll ever need.    The backups could be disk to disk to tape (to a cheap array or a deduplicating appliance like HP StoreOnce), so that you can do quick local restores, but still have the tape sent offsite for ultimate disaster recovery and archiving.

But please don't put your live data and your backups on the same system... and don't expect to be happy with keeping backup/archive data on disk for  periods of time measured in year(s).
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 39618727
SelfGovern is absolutely correct. I really don't have anything more to add other than to award him the points and move on.  Tape is the correct solution for your problem. Period.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 39619734
Ditto on whatdlethe said.

And just to reiterate what self govern said disk even in containers do not normally have connectors that are designed for multiple insertion events, I would have gone with a few more events than him, but the point is that using disks like that is not a good idea

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