What do I need to get started?

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May 16th, 2008
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I'm looking at possible solutions for storage backups for my company. We currently have some HP Ultrium's that are a bit outdated and only support up to 400GB. We've exceeded that amount of space and need much more room. I was wanting to explore Cisco products, and am unsure of what products I need to setup an efficient and reliable networking storage for backups.

What hardware do I need? Can I start with something basic and upgrade later? Do I need a full-fledged SAN, or is there something more basic I can do? I'm very new to networking storage, so please forgive my ignorance.

Thanks for your time.

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inch Sun, 05/18/2008 - 01:42
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Hi Mr Duck,

Well it all depends on how much data you are trying to backup, your recovery point objective, your recovery time objective and how much money you have :-)



FloydTheDuck Sun, 05/18/2008 - 20:30
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Data: up to 1.5 TB (possibly more one day... we have 5 companies that are combined into one, and we'll be taking on their datacenters all into one which we will host next year, but for now just 1.5 TB would be good).

Recovery time: Right now we work fine with 5-6 hours, it starts at 6pm after everyone gets off and finishes at midnight.

Money... right now we're comparing the price of buying our own hardware, and using a company like Symantec to do online backups. Personally I'd prefer do it internal, but thats the price range we're shooting at here. Symantec would cost us about 1000 a month, so 12k a year.

Recovery point objective: not sure what you mean by that

Thanks for the reply, looking forward to hearing another! :)

inch Mon, 05/19/2008 - 01:47
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Recovery time objective - How quick you want to recover

Recovery Point objective - How much data loss you can have (ie: recovery to last nights backups or the last snapshot that was 10 min ago)

For the amount of data you are talking about and the recovery time you prob wont be able to do it online (depending on your location) as you would need a wicked internet connection.

To work out what you need you can:

- Work out how much data per server

- Work out how much bandwidth you can afford per server (1gbe, 2x1gbe etc)

- Work out how much you can aggregate back to a server to perform the backups (1gb, 2x1gbe or 10gbe)

- Work out how fast you can spin that disk or tape (LTO4 is ~1gB/s uncompressed)

And add it all up :) For example:

1.5Tb even on 10 servers (150GB on each)

at 100MB/s (worst case at 1gb/s)

at 360GB/hour

at aggregation of 4x 1gbe/s

with 2 LTO4 drive/s

is a worst case backup window of ~5 hours.

That said, you are looking at a good Cisco (of course) ethernet switch, 2x LTO4 drives, tape media, a dedicated backup server and all the software licenses to boot :)

No one said backup was cheap... but not backing up at all is so incredibly expensive!

FloydTheDuck Mon, 05/19/2008 - 02:40
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Recovery Point Objective: Just since last nights backup...

Any brand names you recommend for the LTO4 drives? Right now we use HP with an LTO2.

Are you saying we should have dedicated servers for these backups? That would be considered a SAN right?

What's the most amount of data you would ever want to backup online? You think more than 500 GB you should go ahead and do it internally?

FloydTheDuck Mon, 05/19/2008 - 04:25
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Would two LTO4's with 10 tapes each (for 2 weeks worth of every business night backups), each one their own servers work? We're not going for the full 1.5 TB yet, but it will be there by next year I'm sure.

inch Mon, 05/19/2008 - 21:06
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You need to work out your retention levels you want etc.

I suggest you buy a good book on backup and recovery, perhaps one by Curtis Preston.


inch Mon, 05/19/2008 - 21:04
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Any brand you are comfortable with but i would check out Quantum's i500 library - Its pretty affordable and I have been running one at a remote site for about 6-12 months now without any issues. That said, I have also been running Sun's SL500's at some other remote sites and they have been good as well.

I would have a dedicated server to perform backups.

A "san" is really a collection of storage resources (typically switches, disk and tape) accessible by clients/servers in a shared environment.

bur3620 Thu, 05/29/2008 - 10:35
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I have been using a Sony AIT LIB162 16 tape robotic library for quite sometime. It holds 1.6TB compressed and I believe the newer models hold much more then that.

arash_compr Fri, 05/30/2008 - 05:27
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cisco may provide you some san fabric sw's but for storage disk arrays you must try EMC2 or HP and it important things to mention how much space you need,you may also try a start up package from HP, they provide everything you need to build a small to medium SAN in a package but you must try to find a tape library or simple tape drive to connect to SAN separately.

yes you do need full SAN environment if you are looking for some functions like LAN-free back up, Storage Disk sharing,backup servers cluster,you may also required to purchase a backup software like symantec netbackup or backup exec with proper licenses , today most business enjoy the reliability and speed of disk based backup and they use TApe only for archived data to be accessible for long terms, in the tape fileds, i sugesst you latest version of ultrium, there are two reasons

1# because those drivs compatibility backward, so you may keep your old tapes while enjoying new the larger tapes that coming and promised

2# those tapes are attractively priced and available everywhere

if you ask for a brand name i suggest you , HP EVA start up package , but EMc2 has its nice products line with much more functionally,you know something like boot from storage. you know those are cool ,specially when you wont have any disk installed inside your servers.

anyway do some google you find a part number for HP eva startup package


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