Data backup unflinching despite decade

Ten years may sound like a long time to run with one software application, but the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in London, Ont., has found no compelling reason to change its backup and recovery solution from EMC’s Legato Networker to anything newer.

“It’s been doing the job and we have a large investment in Legato that we want to maintain. [As well] we have an investment in staff time and knowledge in supporting [Legato Networker],” says Denis Regnier, associate director of technical support for UWO.

Before Legato Networker ever set foot on the UWO campus, the university had its backup and recovery done on mainframes and in a tape environment.

“Way back then we were going from a mainframe system to Unix and Windows systems. We had to find a solution [that would help us] move on to those systems,” says Regnier.

The search took six months and the university had a hard time finding a product capable of handling its multiplatform environment. Networker was eventually selected because not only could it handle such an environment, the software was also competitively priced, according to Regnier.

Initially, when UWO started with Networker, the environment consisted of about 10 servers. Over the course of a decade, the university has grown 50 per cent each year to a point where it is now backing up 300 Unix, Linux, Windows, Macintosh and NetWare-based departmental servers.

On a monthly basis, Networker backs up a total of 25 terabytes of data. Regnier says the product backs up everything from Oracle and Microsoft SQL databases to online coursework.

Networker showed its worth last year when the software was able to quickly recover 50GB of data and 4 million files that were lost when a disk drive failed on a server supporting the campus’s Web-CT, a site where students can take online courses.

Recently the university moved to a disk-to-disk backup environment to eliminate overnight tape drive problems. Switching to disk also gave the school a more reliable and faster way of meeting the campus’s overnight backup window. UWO keeps backup information on disk for up to seven days before the data is moved to a tape environment.

Last month, EMC announced Legato Networker 7.3, the latest version of its backup software.

Rob Emsley, director of product marketing for EMC Software, says Version 7.3 offers enhancements around security, speed and simplicity that organizations like UWO can take advantage of.

Regnier says it’s the simplicity of Version 7.3 in terms of disk management that has convinced him to implement the upgrade next year.

“I guarantee information will be more and we have to grow and expand our back-up systems to accommodate that,” says Regnier.

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