While upgrading its storage architecture, the Cimarron Group, an entertainment marketing and advertising company, found it also needed a sophisticated backup and restore solution. Pickings seemed slim until the organization hooked up with Atempo, a vendor whose solution not only supported Apple’s Xsan but also satisfied additional in-house requirements.
Located in Hollywood, Calif., the Cimarron Group employs more than 150 marketing and production professionals across six divisions: Theatrical Audio-Visual and Theatrical Design, Home Entertainment Audio-Visual, Home Entertainment Print, Corporate and Interactive. When the company installed Apple’s Xsan in January, the timetable for finding a backup and restore solution moved from a casual search to an immediate need.
“Xsan forced our hand to find a back up and restore solution,” says Mark Miranda, IT director at the Cimarron Group. “We looked at several solutions, but only Atempo was able to meet all of our product requirements.”
Not only did the Cimarron Group bring in Atempo’s Time Navigator solution for Xsan backup — 24 terabytes of data in a 48-hour window — but the company also standardized on Atempo for all backup and restore requirements across the enterprise.
Getting the Ball Rolling
About a year and a half ago, the Cimarron Group’s IT department began a casual search for a backup and restore product for all audio-visual media that came out of two divisions. The move was in anticipation of bringing in Apple’s Xsan, the SAN file system for Mac OS X.
The company creates a variety of digital content, including movie trailers, TV spots, posters, designs for DVD boxes, Web sites, audiovisuals, and 3D files, for example.
At that time, the media-intensive departments were using SAN storage by Rorke Data. Miranda saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that, at a minimum, doubling the storage capacity was necessary. The departments were using 4.8 terabytes of SAN, and doubling the capacity was needed because it was becoming more popular in the industry to send daily video clips of shootings instead of sending clips every few days. Miranda also notes that projects were increasing in size from 60GB to several hundred gigabits per project.
Too many shortcomings in the existing storage product meant that Miranda needed to look to another vendor for an upgrade.
“Our existing storage wasn’t well supported by OS X, and the cost to double the storage capacity was way too high,” he says. There were other limitations as well. For example, Miranda pointed out that there was shared read access, but users couldn’t write to more than one volume at a time.
The company brought in Apple’s Xsan sooner than later. The move pushed up the time clock for a backup and restore solution, which up until then had been a complicated solution with many limitations, according to Miranda.
The Search Is On
The company’s IT infrastructure consisted of two servers controlling the Xsan, seven Apple Xserve RAIDs in the SAN, an additional five Xserve RAIDs in the second Xsan for file servers and applications, a Microsoft Exchange Server, a Microsoft 2003 Web Server, a Microsoft SQL Server, and two Windows file servers.
Miranda knew what he needed for backup and restore: a vendor with an established history on some Unix platform; support for Xsan; support for a Qualstar LT03 tape library; and the ability to back up 24TB of data in a 48-hour window and incremental backups every weeknight in a six-hour window. Additionally, he wanted RAID protection supplemented by tape, and to archive data on tapes on-site for immediate retrieval and off-site for disaster recovery.
Miranda looked at some traditional Mac players but didn’t like what he saw. “There were a couple of vendors with products, but neither vendor had an enterprise-level solution, which is what we needed,” he says.
A call to the company’s Apple account executive brought three additional vendors to the table: Veritas, BakBone and Atempo. The Cimarron Group brought in each vendor’s solution and ran a demo, but only Atempo impressed the company.
“Atempo came in and met with us to discuss our needs and to look at our facility,” says Miranda. “They also had a technician come in and help us set up the demo, which was up in an hour.”
More importantly, Time Navigator was the only solution that did what it was supposed to do: a complete 48-hour backup on the first try.
The company demoed Time Navigator for 30 days, liked what it saw, and purchased the product. “With the Xsan up and running, we knew that we needed to make a decision quickly, and the Atempo product worked,” says Miranda.
He pointed out some additional features of the product, such as the ability to simultaneously make two copies to two tapes, and synthetic backup, whereby full backups are recreated off line using the incremental backups.
“We also like the drag and drop interface, which streamlines the restore process,” says Miranda.
After using Time Navigator for three months, the product was so successful that the Cimarron Group now backs up an additional seven terabytes of information from Microsoft servers, for Groupware, SQL databases, general day-to-day data and all print data for the company’s print division and for all traditional advertising, according to Miranda.
The price tag for the back up and restore solution was about $11,000, a little higher than expected, he says.
However, Miranda notes that with a standardized platform, the backup and restore function is managed via a single interface from a single screen. “The management is the best thing. It’s simplified and saves us time and money,” he says.
Next year, the Cimarron Group expects to move to a disk-to-disk-tape solution. “We’ve already evaluated it and can add on to what we currently have in place,” says Miranda.
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