BACKGROUND: Nortel Networks Corporation is a networking/telecommunications company that delivers the expertise and leadership in telephony and IP-based networks.

PLATFORMS: Our group is responsible for managing data recovery activities for eight campuses in the Ottawa area. We back up 20 terabytes and have 5,000 servers, predominantly HP and Sun with a growing NT presence and small pockets of AIX. Our configuration includes two discrete VERITAS NetBackup master servers, nine master/media servers (UNIX) and seven media-only servers (five UNIX and two NT). We also have four systems performing NDMP-based backups. We back up to Quantum DLT 7000 libraries and have two Redwood libraries for historical restores.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Three years ago, we had a highly decentralized backup environment. Every server had its own 8mm tape drive. We had an army of people going around changing tapes on a daily basis. It worked, but it was ugly. We put a large Redwood silo into the two main server rooms and looked at three major backup products. The other products couldn't scale well enough for what we needed. Because of the volume of data and quantities of servers, we needed a solution that could multi-stream backups to the same drive and a catalog that could track the amount of data we needed to keep without becoming unmanageable. Over the last three years, the paradigm of two large silos has changed. Our first production environment was backing up 2.5TB. Within a year and a half of implementing, we grew to 7TB and began running into bottlenecks in the network, so we moved to the model that we're using today which is a centralized backup facility at the campus level.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The major benefit is the flexibility of VERITAS NetBackup. We can configure the software to our needs rather than changing our environment to match the software's architecture. We've been keeping to the distributed model of one server per campus. We do have a few very large servers (.5 to 1TB each) that require dedicated resources. For example, we'll put in a dedicated media server or upgrade a library by adding drives to handle the large data load. Today we're backing up 20TB in full backups over the weekend and 3TB in incremental backups every night. We're looking to manage our VERITAS NetBackup servers from a single view with VERITAS Global Data Manager sometime next year.

STRENGTHS: VERITAS NetBackup's ability to adjust its own configuration to work within many client configurations, the versatility of the product and VERITAS Software's partnerships with major software and hardware vendors are key strengths. We haven't run into a case where it won't work with a piece of hardware on a system we're trying to backup. We have applications running on SAP, Oracle, Informix, BAAN, Microsoft and in-house developed databases. Anytime a new application has come in, VERITAS Software has been there with the vendor to ensure that the product is supported and that VERITAS NetBackup integrates well with it.

WEAKNESSES: As VERITAS Software grew, it had to expand its support organization to match its growing customer base and product offering. Until they revamped their support model, they had problems with the volume and complexity of the calls they received. They also implemented a Nortel telephone system, which increased their effectiveness in communication with their customers.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We put out an RFP and had three major backup vendors on the short list. After running extensive evaluations on their products and benchmarking the pros and cons, VERITAS Software was selected and put into production.

DELIVERABLES: The main deliverables we require from VERITAS Software have been and continue to be quality software updates and quick resolution of any encountered problems with the VERITAS NetBackup products. To date, we have not encountered any problem where a workaround was not forthcoming or a fix put in place within a reasonable amount of time.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We have a good working relationship with VERITAS Software. VERITAS Software seems to be in touch with its customers' needs. It's more a partnership than anything else. I'm not sure every company has that kind of relationship with its customers.

DOCUMENTATION: Whenever I have had to look something up, the documentation has been accurate and helpful.

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