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By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2004-08-30 Print this article Print

Last summer, Dullaghan began looking at ILM solutions from Princeton Softech, EMC Corp.s Legato Software division and Veritas Software Corp. Dullaghan also considered building the archival solution in-house.

EMC has merged its Legato and Documentum divisions to help solidify its ILM push. Click here to read more.
In the end, Dullaghan turned to Princeton Softechs Active Archive and began implementation in January. (He declined to provide cost estimates.)

"We didnt feel like the other products came close to our problem domain," Dullaghan said. "Considering the complexity of the [data] relationships we have, we wanted the ability to link multiple databases together and really be able to actively manage the number of records in our database."

Using Active Archive, Dullaghan can offload older database data from Mitchells EMC Symmetrix DMX Series system, which is used for primary storage. The system archives data onto an EMC Centera NAS (network-attached storage) device to maintain its referential integrity. The data is kept in a searchable Princeton archive for 12 months and then moved to tape backup.

Dullaghan archives the data and then goes through a deletion phase after confirming the data has been archived. If a restoration is necessary to fulfill a claims request, the restored file is moved into temporary space rather than into a production database.

Mitchell has deployed Active Archive across multiple databases for data warehouses and for large online data stores. Dullaghan estimates that it typically requires about three weeks to go live, including developing the scripts, testing and documenting them, and then deploying them.

Had Mitchell developed in-house the ability to search through multiple archives, Dullaghan estimated it would have taken at least a year.

By employing Active Archive, Dullaghan has freed his developers to concentrate on product functions instead of core capabilities, he said. Requests from insurance carriers that once required more than a month for searches of multiple years now take only a few days, he said.

"Because we can archive multiple databases, we have an advantage in that weve got a logical data set thats consistent and coherent," Dullaghan said. "What future-proofs [Mitchell] is that Active Archive stores the data definition language with the archive, too; if you make changes to the database in the future, the product will recognize you made a change and will allow us to remap that data."

In the future, Dullaghan said he wants to automate the archival process after he finds a procedure for comparing the restored data with what is in production to ensure that no changes have been made. In addition, he is looking to link Active Archive with his Legato Software network.

"One of the reasons we do the tape thing is for off-site storage," Dullaghan said. "Mitchell has a secondary restore facility, which almost gives us quadruple redundancy. Its like having a second insurance policy—when the data is this important, you have to be careful."

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at

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As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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