PLATFORMS: At PictureTel's headquarters in Andover, Massachusetts, the engineering group's local area network supports an end-user community of about 400 workstations, plus about 50 servers, all connected over a 100Base-T FDDI backbone, with 10Base-T connections to the desktop.
BACKGROUND: PictureTel is the worldwide market leader in videoconferencing, with more than 100,000 installed systems.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Before installing the DLT technology-based libraries, PictureTel was backing up the network using 10- cartridge 8mm tape libraries. "We were having some hardware problems," explains Silverman. "We had more exchanges of 8mm drives with the vendor than I thought was reasonable. "Silverman turned to Peripheral Devices Corporation (PDC) for a better solution, and they recommended the Breece Hill/BudTool solution. Silverman says, "I had heard that DLT technology was very reliable, had good capacity and data transfer performance. Familiar with DLT, PDC had found that the technology was trouble free." PictureTel now uses two Breece Hill Q2.15 library units, each of which can have one or two DLT drives and 15 DLT tape cartridges, each with a native capacity of 20GB. The biggest difference Silverman has seen with the addition of the Q2.15 DLT libraries is the result of the superior reliability of the DLT drives. "The process is pretty much the same as it is with 8mm drives," he explains, "but with the 8mm, I was constantly trying to play catch up. Something would go wrong with a drive, the backup would be interrupted and we'd get behind."
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The available backup window is the critical issue for PictureTel. Based on good experience with Breece Hill's Q2.15 automated libraries, PictureTel is expanding the use of DLT technology. "We just added a second DLT 4000 drive to one of our Breece Hill units, and the next step will be to add a second drive to the other Breece Hill library. After that, we'll move to a bigger library. The available backup window is an issue for everybody," says Silverman. "The second drive will back up in parallel with the first using a second SCSI port, with very little loss of efficiency. That will let us do more with the same backup window."
STRENGTHS: Silverman also likes the fact that DLT drives in the Q2.15 are easy to maintain. "The DLT tape drive read- write heads barely touch the tape, so you don't have to clean the DLT tape drives often. That's a real plus."
WEAKNESSES: Initial concern for the unit was its capability to expand modularly. However, Breece Hill recently introduced the ability to expand modularly via "pass-through" technology.
SELECTION CRITERIA: PictureTel selected the Q2.15 because of its reliable robotic and DLT technology and the ability of the unit to expand modularly as capacity and performance needs increase. These qualities result in lower cost of ownership, putting the unit above others in its category.
DELIVERABLES: The number one improvement the Q2.15 provided for PictureTel is speed. Because of the unit's rapid throughput, PictureTel is now able to back up its data within the allotted backup window.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The Breece Hill library was installed by Peripheral Devices Corporation (PDC), a reseller of Breece Hill data storage devices. Both pre- and post-service were above standard.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation of the Q2.15 was easy to understand. In fact, if there ever is a problem with the system, one could easily follow manual instructions and get the system back on-line.
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