Friday, December 03, 2004

Backup Solution Evolution - SATA

Today tape backups are still dominate for both big and small business. It has been the cheapest way to do backup since its invention. Optical archiving and backing up in the mid and late 90’s was an excellent alternative, but it proved to be more costly and computer speed out paced them.

However in the last year Moore’s Law has broken down as many of my customers adapting new technologies have been doubling and tripling the amount of hard disk space that they are consuming with data, photos, and scanned documents. On the commercial real estate side of the business an average contract with high-resolution photos is about 150Meg. For a small business of 10 people they have burned through 80 gigs of RAID 5 SCSI disk space in less than 1.5 years. That kind of server setup is expensive.

As a result the current industry standard 40/80 gig tape backups can not keep up with the demand for more disk space. Since on the small business side we do full backups every night, it “is” taking 12 hours to do backups. We do not do incremental backup do to a history of issues that is too much to go into here. Another problem is the DTL and DAT drives running 12 hours a day shortens their life and they die within 18 months.

We conducted a series of lab tests to determine that most economical way to do backups. I will not cover all the details here, but I will tell you what our final result was. We settled on removable hot swap SATA Hard Drives. Our worst case customer was taking 20 hours to do a 50gig backup with verification. With the SATA Hard Drives it took 2.0 hours to backup and another 1 hour for verification. We were clocking in about 1gig per 2.5mins. Plus since the SATA drive is 160gig that gives us two FULL backups per drive.

The overall hardware verse hardware costs are SATA Hard Drives backup solution is 50% cheaper, 4 times the backup capacity, in 75% less time in a production environment. In our lab we were getting even better speeds and times than this, but those tests were in ideal conditions.

Here are links to the hard and vendors that we chose:

SATA Hot Swap Enclosure - MRK-200ST-BK

PCI Card - Serial ATA (SATA)

Serial ATA Hard Drive

Veritas Backup Exec Software

I predicate within two years all my customers will no longer be using tape backups as hard drive prices will have killed them. I know; I have seven different tape backup drives that I have had to migrate my archived data from before the drive died and was no longer supported. In my personal opinion tape drives are doomed and good riddance.

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