CATEGORY: Data administration, management, modeling and database performance.
REVIEWER: Alan Wasserman, director of technology for George Melhado.
BACKGROUND: George Melhado began as a cigar shop in Boston in 1906 and has evolved into a 150-employee wholesale distribution operation with a fleet of two dozen trucks and a territory that covers all of New England and New York, as well as some Midwestern states. Among the products we distribute are cigars, cigarettes, tobacco accessories, health and beauty care items, candy, snacks, beverages, soft drinks, dairy goods, frozen foods and seasonal items.
PLATFORMS: We use a mix of IBM servers running Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 2000 and AIX 4.5.
PROBLEM SOLVED: After several years with George Melhado, I've seen my fair share of technological changes at the workplace. Figuring rather prominently among these changes was the migration from a Unisys mainframe - which the company was using for the bulk of their data processing operations - to a UNIX/Windows environment. Another important transition that I had to manage was the overhaul of the company's backup system. This was a customized solution that was simply not meeting the company's needs.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Syncsort Backup Express is an enterprise-wide backup and restore solution for heterogeneous environments. It provides support for a broad range of technologies and platforms. Standout features include a distributed architecture that provides centralized control for all backup and restore functions with a single catalog.
STRENGTHS: Backup Express has the ability to back up whatever I need. It fits our environment and work requirements extremely well. I sleep well at night knowing that everything is safely backed up!
WEAKNESSES: The Backup Express interface can be quirky to use at times.
SELECTION CRITERIA: One of the first backup products that I evaluated when we were looking for a new backup and restore solution was VERITAS NetBackup. After I got an evaluation copy and did the install, I found the jukebox interface difficult to use. I concluded that if things were going to be this complicated from the onset, I'd better go with a different product. Among the features that I was looking for in a new solution were ease of use, the facility to integrate UNIX and Windows environments, a centralized point of control and, above all, reliability and performance. I found all these qualities in Backup Express.
DELIVERABLES: Backup Express is now used to back up 11 servers with a mix of operating systems including Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows 2000 and AIX. Essentially, I back up everything on these machines, including an Informix database and Exchange. We run Backup Express on a Windows NT server SCSI-connected to an HP Sure Store 20-slot 2-drive DLT tape library. Base backups, which are run on Sundays and have an 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. window, include all office data and total approximately 55GB. I run incrementals Monday through Saturday at approximately 10:00 p.m. These range from 6 to 9GB of data, and take approximately 30 to 45 minutes. I like to take advantage of Backup Express' twinning feature to make duplicate tapes on Sundays, one of which gets taken off site for two months.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Technical support has been very good. Whenever we needed them, the Backup Express support team has been efficient, cooperative and effective.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is good and meets all our needs.
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