PLATFORMS: Five SGI servers, two workstations and a Novell Network with three Novell servers and four Windows NT servers on the network.

BACKGROUND: PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc., based in San Diego, California, is a leading specialty retailer of premium pet food and supplies. The company operates 344 stores including 285 superstores, in 22 states and the District of Columbia. PETCO's 15,000 square foot superstores carry a complete merchandise assortment of more than 10,000 active stock-keeping units of high quality pet-related products.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In January of 1996, we converted our computer system from a prime midrange computer to a Silicon Graphics Challenge XL server system. As part of the move, an IBM Magstar data storage system was put in place. After almost a year and a half, we hadn't been able to get the IBM backup system totally operational. This was a result of combined hardware and software problems. In the meantime we continued to backup our system. To do this, we were using 8mm tape to backup our SGI servers. Separately, we were using 8mm tapes to backup our network using Arcserve. Our NT servers were backed up separately, not as part of the network backup. We had used a systems integrator while working with the IBM system. When it became obvious that the system was not going to handle our needs, we were introduced to Ampex Corporation. Ampex told us they could provide backup throughput of up to 15MB/sec so we challenged them to prove it to us.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Installation was quick and easy. We bought the Ampex DST 312 tape drive and started backing up everything with it. We also added the formal client-side licenses for the Legato Performance Power Edition through SGI. We do incremental backups all week long, and once a week we do a full system backup. At this time we are backing up about 73GB of compressed data (each tape cartridge can hold up to 330GB of data uncompressed). We can handle a full backup within our backup window, and it can be done overnight so that there is no downtime for the system.

STRENGTHS: Speed (15MB/sec) and capacity (up to 330GB uncompressed per cartridge).

WEAKNESS: Buy-in cost. Both the drive and the cartridges are expensive up front.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Ampex brought in their system with the SGI/Legato software and let us prove it would deliver before we actually purchased it.

DELIVERABLES: We now back up all of our corporate systems on the Ampex DST 312 tape drive. This includes financial, inventory, merchandising, point of sale and network applications and their data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Ampex is terrific. They sent top-notch people to install, configure and verify that we could achieve the desired speeds. When we have needed their help, they have delivered right away. The bulk of the software support came from SGI and Legato. Legato also provided support for NT and Novell client issues. We have worked closely with SGI to get their version of Legato Networker up to speed. We have only had to call Legato once.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation, provided on CD-ROM, is very thorough and easy to understand. Without any other instruction, we were able to follow all the prescribed maintenance procedures just by reading the manual.

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