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Overland Data Feeds Shamrock Foods' Need for Dependable Data Backup

  • July 01 2002, 1:00am EDT
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REVIEWER: Bryan West, project supervisor for Shamrock Foods.

BACKGROUND: Phoenix-based Shamrock Foods produces and distributes dairy products to the grocery industry and is a food service distributor with a product line that spans 11 categories and ranges from frozen foods to fresh meats. The company is the ninth-largest food distributor in the U.S., delivering its products to 10 states in the Midwest and Southwest, with more than $1 billion in sales.

PLATFORMS: The new system operates on eight UNIX and 25 NT servers. Many of the NT servers are on an Ethernet LAN while the remainder of the system uses a Fibre Channel SAN through which all data flows to the Overland Neo Series library.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Shamrock Foods ships 150,000 cases daily from warehouses in Denver and Phoenix, resulting in a significant amount of data. All data related to those shipments remains online for six months. Data warehousing information is kept for three years, and invoice details are kept online for seven years. With the growth in IT needs and services, the company needed to back up all of this data. Previously, Shamrock Foods had used standalone DLT7000 tape drives connected to each server. There were more than 70 individual tape drives in this decentralized backup approach, resulting in missed backups, as well as problems in cataloging and tracking data by source and cartridge. In addition, applications sometimes required data spread over multiple servers, and restoring the application required restoring all the involved servers. With five Novell Servers, 45 NT servers and 12 UNIX servers, the potential for losing or missing backups was significant. The Overland Neo Series 2000 and six SuperDLT tape drives addressed this problem through NAS and a tape library with the necessary capacity, speed, compatibility, modularity, expandability and easy maintenance.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We do not have any operational problems with the Overland system and have not missed a backup since we went live in October 2001.

STRENGTHS: The main strengths of the system are its speed, compatibility, expandability/
modularity and maintainability. At 40GB per hour per drive, the SuperDLT drives delivered the speed needed to keep the backup window reasonable. The SuperDLT drive can read the older backup tapes, written on DLT7000 drives, eliminating the need to maintain the old drives. The Neo Series can grow by 167 percent over the current capacity so that the company won't have to expand their library for quite some time. The Neo Series 2000 provides 26 SuperDLT slots in one module, and up to eight modules can be installed resulting in one contiguous library. With up to two tape drives in each module, the Neo Series 2000 can be expanded to 208 slots and 16 drives ­ all in one virtual library. With Live Swap drives, hot swap power supplies and rear-accessible interface cards, the Neo Series clearly met Shamrock Foods' demand for an easy-to-maintain library. In addition, on-site maintenance is no longer a prerequisite for a tape library because operators can easily remove any questionable component and send it back to Overland under the company's XchangeNow program. As a result, on-site maintenance is usually not required.

WEAKNESSES: The product meets all of Shamrock Foods' needs. However, the look and feel of the Web console could be improved.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The selection team studied various backup alternatives and determined that a NAS environment with a tape library was the best solution. To keep the cost of Gig-E and/or Fibre cards down, it was necessary to reduce the number of servers. Through replacement and consolidation, the number of UNIX servers was reduced from 12 to eight and the number of NT servers from 45 to 25. The solution that met Shamrock Foods' needs is a three-module Overland Data Neo Series 2000 equipped with six SuperDLT tape drives. The major advantage for selecting the Neo Series over competing products is that this modular library can grow from 1TB to 24TB native, just by adding new modules.

DELIVERABLES: The Neo Series is used for creating backup tapes of all corporate digital data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Overland team was always very responsive to our needs.

DOCUMENTATION: Product documentation is good. Shamrock Foods was able to install the library and make it work with the information Overland provided with the unit.

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