Ensuring Successful Data Backup and Recovery
By Emerson Stamps
Denso Products and Services Americas, a subsidiary of Denso Group Companies, is an automotive components sales and distribution company based in Long Beach, Calif. We supply parts to original equipment service dealers, as well as to independent aftermarket service centers and retailers.
Our corporate data is invaluable, and our IT department must ensure that the data produced by employees is safe and properly backed up at all times. In fact, a recent corporate mandate now requires that all data be stored for an indefinite period of time.
Since 1999, we have used IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) to automate our data backup and restore functions, as well as to centralize storage management operations. Before that, we used ADSM (TSM’s predecessor), as well as a backup system that offered no disaster recovery, no different pools and no online pools.
We ran tape to an offsite storage location without knowing the integrity of the data, and we had no system for checking the success or failure of backups. The inability of the system to restore critical data is what led us to shop for a new solution and eventually implement TSM.
Once that decision was made, we needed a way to simplify the backup application. Although TSM is one of the most stable and scalable products for backup, it also has a reputation for being complex and hard to use.
Our goal was threefold: to ensure data integrity, to guarantee that all backed-up data could be restored, and to develop a disaster recovery plan in case something happened locally to the network system.
In our research, we came across the StorServer Backup Appliance, which offers an interface and appliance package to simplify and automate complex functions of TSM without giving up its technological features. With the appliance as the interface, TSM provides us with complete backup, restore and disaster recovery solution in an easy-to-use configuration of hardware and software technologies.
In addition, the appliance can make TSM more attractive from an administrative standpoint because our users don’t have to be experts to use the appliance or associated software. A combination of in-person and online training makes it easy for our employees to learn how to use the appliance so that our administrators at all levels can manage it without investing a lot of time. As a result, the appliance helps lower our administrative overhead by reducing the time needed to learn and manage the system.
We’ve saved time with the appliance because we can offload the daily operations to a junior-level administrator and free up our senior IT managers to focus on other tasks. Operating the system becomes a matter of rotating and pulling tapes, and performing backup operations. The daily reports notify our users if anything out of the ordinary happens with the backups and that saves us a tremendous amount of time when investigating problems.
We have performed two updates to the StorServer appliance since we installed it. I was part of both updates and worked with our backup administrator and StorServer to map out the upgrade path. We knew we needed bigger, better hardware to run TSM on.
The system was in place for more than five years when we did the first upgrade. I determined to go with something that could exponentially increase the size of the data that was maintained.
Later, in 2012, we had a new server expansion that involved an exponential increase in storage. We previously had 10TB of data on the server, and the expansion brought it up to 150TB of storage and included a new tape drive.
Currently, we are storing between 80TB and 120TB of data across two locations. We have a local network disaster recovery plan in place, and our global IT services team is also looking at capabilities for offsite disaster recovery.
Over the past few years, we have been adding more virtualized machines. Today, our environment is 60 percent virtual and 40 percent physical.
To protect the virtualized data, we use StorServer Virtual Machine Backup, which controls backups of VMware virtual environments through a graphical interface that eliminates the cumbersome tasks of writing scripts or managing TSM schedules and option files. StorServer has expanded the appliance to meet our growing needs, and the system continues to grow with us and help us accomplish our business objectives.
Emerson Stamps is the network systems assistant manager at Denso Products and Services Americas.