Casino Bets on CommVault
Since opening its doors in July 2003, Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa has grown its IT infrastructure using CommVault's QiNetix software.
Today, the organization is running the recently updated Galaxy V6 for backup, archiving and recovery, and is currently in the process of implementing CommVault DataMigrator, a component of the vendor's Unified Data management suite, to eliminate the use of PST files in Microsoft Exchange.
According to Curt Dennison, a systems engineer at the Atlantic City hotel, DataMigrator allows the company to migrate e-mail messages off of its MS Exchange server to its storage area network (SAN).
"A lot of our users travel and don't always have access to personal e-mails stored on their desktop hard drives," he says. "By moving the e-mail messages to the SAN and off the Exchange server, users can gain worldwide access and e-mails won't eat up expensive server storage."
Borgata has 7,000 mailboxes. One of the key deciding factors that led to the organization to partner with CommVault was the vendor's easy integration with Microsoft Exchange, says Dennison.
However, he notes that the solution was also the best fit for Borgata's overall IT infrastructure, which includes SQL Server, Exchange, Active Directory and SharePoint.
Putting IT Together
In operation since 1993, Borgata features 2,000 guest rooms and suites, 125,000 square feet of gaming, 163 gaming tables, 3,600 slot machines, eleven restaurants, eleven retail boutiques, a 50,000 square-foot spa, 70,000 square feet of event space, and parking for 7,000 cars. When the facility was still in the design phase, company decision makers thought carefully about the IT architecture.
"We had to decide on applications and platforms," says Rich Rudzinski, director of IT services. After all, the facility relies heavily on its IT infrastructure.
The planning came down to two platforms: the IBM AS/400 for the hotel and casino, and Microsoft for everything else, including SQL databases, many of which support the company's business operations.
Finding a backup solution was a priority from the start. "We would have liked a single solution for both platforms, but we wanted best of breed," says Rudzinski.
At the end of the day, the decision was made to use IBM's iSeries Storage Solution, including Backup Recovery and Media Services (BRMS), the AS/400 environment, and CommVault's QiNetix software for the Microsoft environment. CommVault backup and recovery software backs up the SAN, which stores 80 SQL databases and four Exchange DataStores. The SQL databases support many of the company's business operations, including the valet system, HR systems, payroll, call center, wardrobe system, point of sale systems, Web site tracking, time clock system, catering, hotel sales and meeting room schedule.
During the research phase, IT decision makers looked at Veritas as well as CommVault for the Microsoft environment. IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager was also a consideration before SQL was selected over Oracle, according to Rudzinski.
"Tivoli would have fit all three environments, the AS/400, the RS6000 for Oracle, and Microsoft, but once Oracle was out of the picture, so was the RS6000, and CommVault was the best of breed solution for all of our Microsoft data points," he says.
CommVault met other IT criteria as well, such as ease of use and recovery capability for Exchange and SQL.
Borgata's technology infrastructure includes 1,000 desktops, 70 Windows servers, three IBM AS/400 servers, 240 Cisco network switches, a voice PBX, and Web services. The storage infrastructure includes an IBM FAStT700 SAN with a capacity of 2.5 terabytes and an IBM 3584 tape library with eight LTO drives and 140 media cartridge slots.
Borgata system engineer Yong Chen likes the close integration of CommVault with SQL and Exchange. For example, there is only one agent for each SQL server, even though one physical device may have multiple instances of SQL. "We have three SQL clusters and all are media agents, which means you can back up all at once," he says.
A round-the-clock operation, Borgata databases get daily full backups, and incremental backups every two to three hours.
Chen also notes that there's a media agent on Exchange and as many as 40 agents on the company's Windows servers.
CommVault Galaxy performs about 6,000 backup jobs monthly in the Windows environment. In addition to the SQL backups, the Exchange e-mail servers get daily incremental backups and weekly full backups. The AUXcopy feature of Galaxy is used to make duplicates of the primary backups, where they're sent off site.
Dennison is particularly fond of CommVault's close integration with Exchange. "We can recover individual messages without having to restore an entire mailbox," he says.
Borgata will soon complete the first phase of implementing DataMigrator for 200 mail boxes. "We're currently in a product beta test and will ultimately roll it out for all 7,000 mailboxes," Dennison says.
Not only was CommVault pricing a factor in Borgata's decision, but Rudzinski also says the vendor was willing to work with the IT department as a partner. Yong had previous experience working with CommVault products as well as the vendor's professional services group.
CommVault was also called upon to help Borgata's IT department implement DataMigrator. "Our Exchange environment is unique due to our network security requirements," says Rudzinski, noting the casino has a multilayered security network and must meet various regulatory and compliance requirements.
"CommVault has been very reliable handling our issues. Their technical support helps us get things resolved," he says.
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