CATEGORY: Storage

REVIEWER: Robert Stark, MIS supervisor at ProxyMed, Inc.

BACKGROUND: As new information technologies transform the healthcare industry, ProxyMed, Inc. stands on the front lines, building a proprietary network that already links more than 50,000 physician offices to the industry's largest list of pharmacies and clinical laboratories, and one of the industry's largest lists of payers.

PLATFORMS: M2 and Mammoth Tape products from Exabyte Corporation run on Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: A computer virus can strike without warning with potentially devastating results. Within hours, millions of computers can be infected and billions of dollars lost. Such was the case in this millennium's most costly online epidemic, the "I Love You" virus. Fortunately, ProxyMed, Inc. was well prepared and armed with Mammoth Tape technology which not only protected all of our data, but allowed us to fully restore our infected files at a speed unrivaled in the industry. Within two hours of receiving a cell phone message that read, "Kindly check the attached LOVELETTER coming from me," we isolated the virus text, figured out the code and restored all of ProxyMed's valuable data ­ a herculean task that would have been impossible without the extraordinary speed and reliability of Exabyte's Mammoth and M2 tape drives. In addition, ProxyMed's expanding data set required a total data storage solution. Last year alone, its online network of physicians, pharmacies and clinical laboratories conducted 60 million healthcare transactions ­ nearly one-quarter million per day.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The "I Love You" virus attacked static files that weren't typically updated on a daily basis ­ files you might think you don't need to back up. But, ProxyMed's policy is to do a full backup every Friday and incremental backups every night. With an uncompressed capacity of 60GB per tape, the M2 tape drive enables unattended backups without the worry of changing tapes.

STRENGTHS: Frankly, the speed at which the M2 allowed us to restore our files was amazing. Knowing we can reliably retrieve our data in just minutes gives us the security and flexibility we need. M2 backs up 150GB of compressed data with a transfer rate of 30MB per second. It's the whole package: speed, capacity, reliability, form factor and affordability.

WEAKNESSES: What was originally viewed as a weakness in the M2 technology, the cost of media, was later justified. Because the M2 drives use SmartClean technology, it costs more than ordinary tape cartridges, but it reduces the chance of failed backups. Because the media cleans itself, overnight backups won't fail because of dirty heads and head life is extended. It takes the guessing game out of when a cleaning needs to take place. At first glance, the media seemed expensive, but we realized we'd be saving ourselves a lot of headaches in the long run because of the SmartClean technology.

SELECTION CRITERIA: It's only a matter of time before one of these viruses hits our mission-critical files, so this one was a wake-up call. The M2 can restore files faster than any drive in the industry, 40 percent faster than AIT-2 and 87 percent faster than DLT 8000. When the MIS department at ProxyMed decided to go with Mammoth Tape technology several years ago, they were looking for affordable, fast, reliable tape drives that would be compatible with their intensive backup and restore strategies. With more than 100 workstations and eight servers, including the main server that contains 80 gigabytes of data, the speed and capacity of our Mammoth and M2 drives has really saved us.

DELIVERABLES: Relying on Mammoth Tape technology gave us the extended capacity we needed to back up all of our data. In fact, if we skimped on backup, the files we would have chosen not to back up would have been files the virus infected. Since the virus incident, the company performs daily backups of its exchange server using a Mammoth tape drive. We rely heavily on e-mail, necessitating reliable backups in case the server goes down. Our Mammoth tape drive acts as a complete replica of our exchange server one day behind. If a server failure occurs, we can snap right back. We're able to hot swap the data immediately. It is seamless ­ nobody knows we ever went offline.

VENDOR SUPPORT: With talented support people and a comprehensive backup strategy, ProxyMed has no reason to fear love letters from unknown sources or other malicious viruses. Exabyte's technical support staff has always been available to us without fail, helping through installation to implementation.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation allowed us to run the programs without help.

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