BACKGROUND: Sybase, Inc., one of the ten largest global independent software companies, wanted to standardize on a new data backup and archiving platform. The challenges of this all-encompassing project were daunting. The task of creating a universal backup standard demanded that Sybase design a solution to satisfy the constantly changing storage requirements at the company's headquarters and many off-site locations.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The problem we faced was that it would not be practical to use a centralized storage system for the Sybase distributed computing environment. Even a combination of central storage systems and smaller storage units was not practical. In addition to the initial capital investment for the robotics and bar code readers, the units were not compatible ­ although the DLT mechanisms themselves were ­ between large units and the small units like Overland's. If we were to implement a silo in one site, another vendor in a second site and Overland in a third, we would not have met our disaster recovery and centralized support objectives. Even if we were able to achieve the local office's data backup and restore requirements, we wouldn't be developing the kind of uniform, global infrastructure we needed. That helped us narrow the field down to Overland.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Overland LibraryXpress backup solution was flexible enough to handle the special demands of the product development groups who were facing ever-shortening development cycles. After a year of evaluation, it was determined that the Overland unit satisfied the core Sybase requirements for system backup: proven technology, high reliability, minimum five-year life expectancy and high capacity with growth potential, and the ability to expand as necessary. The initial Sybase installation consisted of 20 Overland LibraryXpress base modules. Within just six months, the storage requirements had changed so significantly that Sybase started to take advantage of the SmartScale Storage Architecture of the system which allows the system to expand from a single unit to nine.

STRENGTHS: Because Sybase intended on moving vast amounts of data stored on slave and sub- network servers across the network, it was decided that Overland's distributed approach to backup would be preferable to other monolithic approaches. By using the LibraryXpress, we essentially were able to break up larger silos into smaller components as needed ­ allowing the company the highest amount of configuration flexibility.

WEAKNESSES: During the evaluation period, a firmware incompatibility appeared, producing communications problems between the LibraryXpress units and the Veritas NetBackup software. However, Overland quickly mobilized its technical support team to work with Veritas and the reseller, Integrated Archive Systems, to identify the problem and resolve it in short order by installing new firmware.

SELECTION CRITERIA: A scalable, distributed approach instead of a monolithic library solution was determined to be the best choice for Sybase because of the distributed nature of the company. Few other vendors offered the high scalability of Overland.

DELIVERABLES: The LibraryXpress flowed with the needs of Sybase. We have development cycles that get shorter and shorter with every product. We have moved from 18-month development cycles to a 90-day development cycle in many areas of our engineering unit ­ moving massive amounts of data, bringing in new machines and changing the complexion of networks virtually overnight. We need to be able to move very quickly. And very literally, the LibraryXpress helped meet those development cycles ­ the company's lifeblood.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Service goes to the heart of the matter when it comes to backup, because you cannot afford to be down. If you have to do a restore, it's generally a matter of hours not days. When a problem arose, Overland stepped up to the challenge and did exactly what they committed to. For me, that says that we can have a relationship that is going to last for the long term.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was extremely useful in the installation process and provided excellent technical information for almost every situation.

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