CATEGORY: Storage

REVIEWER: Chris Eckelkamp, manager of technical services, Quebecor World Acme Printing, a division of Quebecor World.

BACKGROUND: Quebecor World Acme Printing provides high- quality commercial printing projects, including annual reports, specialty catalogs and brochures for corporate clients such as ExxonMobil, Reebok and Tiffany. The need for high capacity and high availability for large file image data stored on a long-term basis necessitated a storage and backup solution that was fully scalable, reliable and easy to use. The Acme culture is based on linking digital technology with skilled operators who approach today's work with the attitude of traditional craftsmen. With years of substantial capital reinvestment, our Acme facility represents the latest in technology. We expect no less from our vendors. Having spent years as part of the creative process, Acme's craftspeople understand and respect the effort that customers invest to create a concept and gain project approval, as well as the stakes involved in bringing every print concept to life ­ matching the client's vision. Designing and maintaining a backup and archive system is no less a creative task.

PLATFORMS: Our environment included a Compaq Alpha server running NT 4.0. Our backup capacity requirement was an archive of 1 terabyte, with approximately 400 gigabytes of near-line data (data that is constantly accessed). Backups are performed nightly with tapes rotated every three weeks.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our needs included accessibility to all users in the company, high reliability, the ability to accommodate future growth easily, a reasonable cost per megabyte, minimal interruption of Acme's daily production processes and a disaster recovery system that would be easy to use and simple to manage. In addition, we wanted to move away from the kind of proprietary systems used in the past in favor of a more open solution.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The solution centerpiece is the award-winning DLT Minilibrary-Xpress Model 4115 storage architecture from Overland Data, a large- capacity library designed for servers and networks. With a native performance of 5.4GB per hour and a 300GB storage capacity using DLT4000 and 3.96GB per hour and 1.65TB capacity with Super DLT, the MinilibraryXpress is an ideal and cost-effective solution for workgroup storage needs. The MinilibraryXpress also offers either one or two tape drives and a removable 15-cartridge magazine. The interface provides direct access to magazine, cartridge and drive status information, and security features lock the loader and regulate access to the cartridges and magazine. Mediabank software from Wave Corporation of Longwood, Florida, provides digital asset management, Adaptec SCSI controllers were selected for the Compaq Alpha and Legato provided software for enterprise backup.

STRENGTHS: The system has substantially cut our support costs. The system is so user-friendly that we've been able to reduce our support team to one full-time database manager. By redirecting the other support team members, there has been a more economical use of our manpower. Since the system has been running, it's paid for itself.

WEAKNESSES: In retrospect, we should have purchased a dual-drive configuration instead of a single-drive. When we are ready to upgrade, we will have to bring the system down and have a service representative install the second unit, which will cause a disruption.

SELECTION CRITERIA: To find the best solution for our data storage needs, we contacted All Systems Integration, Inc. in Woburn, Massachusetts, to review the challenges of our environment and develop a set of criteria for choosing the equipment to build the new system. All Systems Integration determined Overland had the best backup for our needs based on price, performance and budget. We spent a considerable amount of money on several solutions that had each run their course ­ so we didn't want a system that we would have to replace in five years. We also wanted a solution from a company that would be here to support us in the future.

DELIVERABLES: One of our main objectives was to establish a better long-term archiving solution. We can now archive a vast number of images ­ all large files ­ on a long-term basis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: During the implementation process, Overland's support was always there. The guarantee that Overland offers is especially important, as we have had problems in the past with other library manufacturers.

DOCUMENTATION: The company supplies thorough users' manuals.

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