Data Domain Gives EFI Big Backup Boost

Case Study: Data Domain's disk-based backup appliances speed backup and file restores, and reduce off-site storage runs.

The desire for quicker backups and file restores led Electronics For Imaging Inc.s Ephraim Baron to Data Domain Inc.s disk-based backup appliances.

EFI, which develops digital imaging and print management solutions, has a staff of 1,500 people, half of whom are engineers. Baron said the company needed to find a system that would not only speed up backups but would also allow high-speed restores to minimize downtime and keep users productive.

EFIs backup environment was built on Veritas Software Corp.s NetBackup software, with Spectra Logic Corp. tape libraries and Sony Corp. AIT (Advanced Intelligent Tape) drives, according to Baron, senior manager of information services and technology server operations, in Foster City, Calif.

Before Data Domains disk-based backup system was deployed, full backups were run once a week, with incremental backups run every day.

Thus, EFI staffers who wanted to restore data that was more than a week old had to request the tapes and wait for them to be shipped from an Iron Mountain Inc. facility in Union City, Calif.

"We were doing tape runs every Friday," said Baron. "If a user was lucky [and requested data right before the tape run], we could do the restore the next day. Otherwise, the user had to wait up to a week for the data."

Baron and his staff determined that a better solution was needed to meet their users needs, and they spent a month evaluating several disk-based solutions before deciding on Data Domains Restorer appliances.

Last November, Baron and his staff deployed two DD200 Restorer appliances. Last month, those appliances were replaced with the DD460 Restorer, which is priced at $75,000. Two to three months worth of data can now be backed up on-site and restored on demand using only one DD460. It took two DD200s to handle the same amount of data.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read a review of Data Domains DD460 Restorer.

The older appliances have been shipped to EFI remote offices, said Baron.

Baron still saves data to tape for off-site storage, but tape backups for most applications that EFI uses are sent off-site just once a month. (One exception, for example, is SAP AGs R/3, which is backed up to tape more often to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.)

EFI is using the DD460 to back up databases, file servers and user directories. Approximately 25TB to 30TB of information is being backed up, and Baron said that the company has seen an average of 15X to 20X compression since first implementing the Data Domain appliances.

Notable Exceptions

Although EFI IT staffers are happy overall with the Data Domain implementation, they have found some limitations in the technology that make backing up certain data types inefficient.

Barons staff has not seen backup efficiencies with compressed files on the DD460, for example, and so is not backing them up with the unit.

The older DD200 units had problems with e-mail backup because of inefficiencies in the way metadata was stored.

In fact, EFI found that its Microsoft Corp. Exchange data was quickly filling up the DD200 metadata repositories. Backups could not be run, said Baron, even if there was still a large amount of storage space left on the appliance.

With the DD460, metadata is stored along with backup information, allowing IT administrators to get the full use of their Data Domain storage.

Baron and his staff have not yet moved Exchange to the new DD460 Restorer unit, but they plan to in the near future, he said.

In addition to the efficiencies the Data Domain appliances have created, Baron said he is pleased with the way he can budget for backup. He said he rarely buys tapes these days, and he is able to recycle the ones he does use because they dont see the same kind of wear and tear.

eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at

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