REVIEWER: Bhaumik Shah, network administrator for Raxco Software.

BACKGROUND: For more than 25 years, Raxco Software has been a leading provider of system administration software and resource management solutions for medium- to large-sized organizations and home users around the world. More than 20,000 customers rely on Raxco Software's products to optimize their computer systems and networks. Global 2000 customers and government agencies worldwide use Raxco's systems administration tools.

PLATFORMS: Windows 2003 Server operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Development and coding are done in house at Raxco Software, making near-line access to data and a reliable backup process a necessity. We also have production servers that host our CRM and accounting database applications, and our entire Web server farm servers host our e-commerce Web site. We faced the problem of backing up all of these.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Raxco Software implemented the FrankeNAS and Ibac Data Protection Software from Idealstor. FrankeNAS is a disk-to-disk backup solution that has fixed and removable drives, allowing us to store our data locally and back up to removable disk media for off-site storage. Its 4U rackmount size fits easily in our server rack and is managed by Idealstor's Ibac software. The FrankeNAS provides both redundant fixed storage that is configured RAID5 and ejectable disks for off-site backup. The 1.1TB RAID array on the NAS side of the appliance is composed of fully redundant serial ATA drives with hot swap capability and online rebuild. The other side of the appliance has two ejectable drives for backups. Though our full backups are 250GB, Ibac's versioning feature allows us to store much more data on the fixed storage. For off-site storage Raxco Software uses the ejectable disk component of the FrankeNAS. Two drive bays back up to ATA disks that can be ejected and taken off site on a daily basis. We use 500GB drives for our off-site backups, giving us room to grow as data increases. Raxco Software has one week of daily backups, four sets of weekly and one set of monthly backup disks as our retention policy. In addition, with the help of the versioning feature of Ibac Data Protection Software, we run backups of our coding data every two hours so that we have the latest copy of our most critical data. This versioning feature allows us to store multiple full backups on our RAID array. Once we have run our first full backup, incremental backups are easy. Ibac virtualizes the files that have not changed since the full backup and fuses the incremental changes into a new folder, creating a full backup every time. Because copies of files that don't change are not repeatedly backed up, the amount of space required to get a full backup is actually that of an incremental backup. The end result is a full backup in the time and space required on disk of an incremental backup.

STRENGTHS: Raxco Software runs backups every day from the data that has already been backed up on the NAS side of the appliance to the removable drives. This saves on network bandwidth because that backup job is done locally on the FrankeNAS. Ibac's versioning feature enables us to keep a large number of full backups near line in the RAID, simplifying file recovery because we don't have to get an off-site disk. Switching to FrankeNAS saved money on the initial purchase and on annual maintenance because it is two devices in one. We used to store data on a NAS and send it to tape. The FrankeNAS system is much faster than this previous two-stage process.

WEAKNESSES: The costs of the parallel ATA drives are slightly more expensive than tape.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Ibac backs up data in its native format, making the backup look like our production server.

DELIVERABLES: On a nightly basis, Ibac emails reports detailing job status and completion. A job history can also be accessed from Ibac.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support was not necessary for us. The software and hardware are very straightforward to set up, although notes came with it if needed.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete and easy to understand. If necessary, we could run the product relying on the documentation provided.

FrankeNAS, Ibac Data Protection Software
18203-A Flower Hill Way
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
(301) 947-8737

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