The largest branded seafood company in North America had been fishing only in familiar IT waters until this spring, when it upgraded its outdated, tape-dominated data storage system by beta testing a new disk-to-disk virtual tape library appliance, something it had never considered using before.
Now the companys CIO wishes he would have looked at such a system even sooner.
San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods, best known for processing and canning salmon, tuna and other foods, was a beta tester of Overland Storages REO 4500 Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape VTL the last few months. Senior Vice President and CIO Tony Costa, a 20-year IT veteran who doesnt use superlatives loosely, was duly impressed.
"Its so easy to utilize—we basically dropped it into the system, and its almost like, Set it and forget it," Costa told eWEEK. "We dont have to deal with piles of tapes every day anymore, yet our backup, disaster recovery and compliance requirements are met exactly right."
A virtual tape library is a version of data storage virtualization used for backup and recovery. To the administrator, a VTL presents a storage component (usually a hard disk) as a tape library or drive for use with existing backup software.
Virtualizing storage as tape hardware allows integration of VTLs with existing backup software, which in turn enables interaction with existing backup and recovery processes and policies. Benefits of tape virtualization include better overall organization and faster data-restore processes.
VTLs, though not inexpensive, have become a go-to option of sorts during the last 18 months or so. Sepaton, NetApp, Data Domain, 3PAR, FalconStor, Neartek, Quantum and Copan are among the leaders in the VTL space, according to researchers Gartner and IDC. IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EMC and HP also have enterprise VTL offerings.
Bumble Bee, which has 13 remote locations, backs up the companys incremental data each night and does a weekend full backup, as many companies of all sizes do.
"Even though we are a $1 billion company," Costa said, "we dont have a real high number of people working in our IT department [only five full-time employees]. In that way, we are like a small to medium-size business. So its imperative that we keep everything as easy to administer as possible. We like to use just a few trusted vendors to keep it simple."
To rearchitect its data protection, Bumble Bee upgraded its EMC Fibre Channel SAN, standardized on Symantec Backup Exec software, and incorporated data replication from DoubleTake Software as well as continuous data protection from Live Backup to safeguard all centralized and remote applications, servers and systems.
The company also added Overlands ARCvault 48-tape library for long-term data retention, in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, FDA and other regulatory requirements, Costa said.
Costa said the new VTL plays a pivotal role in helping the company consolidate the backup and recovery of disparate and dispersed data from all 14 locations—data that continues to proliferate through corporate acquisitions and expansions.
"Overlands REO and ARCvault safeguard our daily e-mail, financials and other documents and bolster our business-IT best practices at the same time," Costa said.
On July 16, about three months after Bumble Bee began testing it in production, Overland launched the REO 4500 VTL for general availability. The 4500 is the newest addition to the San Diego-based companys catalog of disk-based backup, recovery and virtual tape library appliances, which includes the REO 4000, the entry-level REO 1500 and the top-of-the-line REO 9100.
The REO 4500 features a state-of-the-art SAS RAID controller; dual 4G-bps Fibre Channel and iSCSI host connectivity; a maximum of 27TB of raw data capacity; a user-definable VTL with up to six library partitions, up to 32 virtual tape drives and up to 512 virtual cartridges; and RAID 5. The units also feature dual hot-swap power supplies and secure Web-based management for setup, monitoring and reporting.
To date, Overland has deployed more than 5,000 REO appliances, representing more than 25 petabytes of vital data, a company spokesperson said.
"This is not just a point product. The REO 4500 has got new building blocks that Overland can work with," Robert Amatruda, research director of tape and removable storage at IDC, told eWEEK.
"From a competitive standpoint, it puts Overland in a better place. It has more capacity, better fault tolerance and more throughput around the physical hard drives. Its really enterprise-class, but still affordable for SMBs.
"This new VTL answers a major market need, and it has helped Overland gain market traction."
The REO 4500 VTL appliance is now available from Overland partners for a base price of $18,177.