When Delorme Publishing Co. found its data needs dramatically outpacing its backup infrastructure, the company turned to a data life-cycle management solution from BakBone Software Inc. Data availability is critical to DeLorme, a leader in the mapping industry. The Yarmouth, Maine, companys decision to deploy BakBones NetVault backup and recovery solution has enabled it to readily access vast amounts of mapping data and achieve the fastest restores possible while keeping costs down, said Philip Pedro, DeLormes director of IT.
By transferring data from expensive primary storage, the BakBone DLM solution has enabled DeLorme to keep its primary-to-secondary storage ratio close to 1-to-10—resulting in significant cost savings.
“We have had estimates that we will probably quadruple the amount of storage we have by the end of this year,” Pedro said. “With these huge storage demands placed on us, we needed a solution that could grow and handle our needs without any trouble.”
DeLorme, which relies on DLM to free high-speed storage resources while keeping reference data available, is not alone in its desire to manage information through the course of its life span. Research company Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., estimates that the average organization doubles its storage needs every 18 to 24 months. Management of that data is crucial to controlling storage costs.
Founded in 1976 as a paper-atlas publishing company, DeLorme has grown into a leader in digital mapping, providing topographic products to consumers as well as enterprise and government customers, including NASA.
Last year, DeLorme launched TopoBird, a digital remote sensing platform that uses traditional aerial photography, satellite imagery and Laser/LIDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) collection technologies to create detailed color and infrared maps.
On a given day, the TopoBird airplane generates more than 500GB—or about 749 CDs worth—of data as the plane digitally maps and aerially photographs sections of the United States with submeter accuracy.
The generation of so much data created the need for DeLorme to store terabytes of new data monthly. As a result, the companys on-site storage capacity needs quadrupled, from 10 terabytes to more than 43 terabytes today.
DeLorme officials said they knew that when TopoBird was launched, the companys storage needs would grow exponentially. In 2002, the company was using Computer Associates International Inc.s BrightStor ARCserve Backup Version 10 running on Windows servers. Although that setup worked well for moving 2 terabytes of data on and off servers, it couldnt handle DeLormes growing data requirements.
When CA released its latest version of BrightStor ARCserve Backup, the software wasnt backward-compatible, and DeLorme began to experience corruption of its data index servers. The company also began to run into situations where data occasionally wasnt backed up. With the new demands for DLM, Pedro decided it was time for a new solution.
“We added 33 terabytes of storage last year, so obviously our existing software wasnt cutting it,” Pedro said. “Our data needs just grew so quickly that our existing software couldnt keep up.”
Pedro had specific requirements for the new solution. He wanted a system that would enable him to back up his diverse computing infrastructure, which includes Linux, Solaris and Windows devices, cohesively. And with the impending launch of TopoBird, he needed a solution that could scale.
Because of the way DeLorme processes and delivers its data to customers, Pedro wanted to achieve the fastest restores possible, together with the highest degree of data availability.
DeLorme looked at solutions from Veritas Software Corp., but Pedro said his company didnt require the full functionality of the Veritas products. Instead, DeLorme chose to deploy BakBones NetVault 7.0 backup and restore software. The NetVault 7.0 workgroup package starts at $1,195 for Intel Corp.-based systems (Windows and Linux) and $2,995 for Unix systems.
After every TopoBird flight, DeLorme must remove the digital imagery stored in the airplanes SCSI data “canisters” to make space for new data. Using NetVault, DeLorme manages removal of the data from the canisters, processing that data on an EMC Corp. Clariion CX600 array and eventually archiving it on a Qualstar Corp. Super-AIT and an Advanced Digital Information Corp. Scalar 100 tape drive.
DeLorme runs incremental backups during the week, as well as full backups on weekends, using its 33-terabyte EMC ATA-based RAID array. Because its data is constantly changing and being updated, the company relies on an archival process to ensure that employees have constant, easy access to the latest information.
All data from TopoBird is archived on the companys Qualstar Super-AIT library to make room on the RAID arrays for new data.
When a municipality requests TopoBird data to use as reference data in its municipal planning, DeLorme can bring archived data online for additional processing. The availability of the data ensures the company can provide its customers with the latest maps.
Currently, if a user needs to access information that has been archived to tape, he or she submits a Web-based form to IT requesting that the data be restored to the EMC array. An IT manager then uses NetVault to manually make room on the array for the archived information and puts the data online. The process, Pedro said, takes about 2 hours.
Pedro added that he is looking at software packages that will let him automate this process. Once data can be moved back onto the array without manual intervention, he said the restore time will be cut to a matter of minutes.
Even though the BakBone software enables DeLorme to save money on expensive storage technologies, Pedro said he still expects that DeLormes storage could quadruple by years end—to anywhere from 100 terabytes to 250 terabytes. Pedro also estimates that hell spend at least half his IT budget this year on storage and storage-related technologies.
“We have the storage requirements of a huge enterprise, but were not a large company, which means we have to be creative with the way we spend our money,” Pedro said. “[The] thing is, our data is valuable, and we have to make sure we have access to it at all times.”
Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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