Published on 31-May-2011
Validated on 06 Nov 2012
"ProtecTIER is a solution that can stay now and just grow as we need it to. We’re quite happy with where we are." - Peter Hadikin, senior systems analyst, British Columbia Institute of Technology
IT/infrastructure, Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Optimizing IT, Optimizing IT, Service Management, Virtualization - Storage
BCIT is one of Canada’s leading post-secondary educational institutions with more than 48,000 students enrolled in fields of study ranging from accounting to technology management.
With storage demands growing across its five campuses in British Columbia at a rate of 40 percent annually, the school needed a scalable, high-performance deduplication solution that could seamlessly integrate into its existing storage infrastructure.
With the assistance of IBM, BCIT deployed a 36TB IBM® System Storage® ProtecTIER® Deduplication solution to support the organization’s mission-critical application, database and testing environments. Backup and recovery activities are managed with IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager running on the IBM Power® platform. An IBM System Storage TS3310 Tape Library with four LTO® 4 tape drives is used to create offsite copies of all data.
The IBM solution shortens nightly storage administrative tasks from 14 hours to four, increases the number of generations of backups stored from seven to 30, and provides the scalability to support up to a petabyte of capacity.
Established in 1964, the British Columbia Institute of Technology is one of British Columbia’s largest post-secondary educational institutions with more than 48,000 students enrolled. From accounting to technology management, BCIT offers a range of degrees, diplomas and certificates in six schools of study at five main campuses and satellite locations across a wide geographic swath of southwestern Canada, including the city of Vancouver.
The school’s mission is to serve the success of learners and employers by providing high-quality technical and professional education and training that supports graduates as practitioners, and by advancing the economic, social and environmental prosperity of British Columbia.
When storage needs outgrow the existing infrastructure
The storage infrastructure at BCIT supports a diverse computing environment that includes a variety of mission-critical applications, databases and testing environments running on a heterogeneous hardware infrastructure that includes IBM Power Systems™ and IBM BladeCenter®. To manage backup and recovery of unstructured data files and data from applications such as Oracle, IBM Lotus Notes® and Microsoft® Exchange, the organization uses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. An IBM System Storage TS3310 Tape Library with four LTO-4 tape drives is used to create offsite copies of all data.
Over time, BCIT’s legacy deduplication solution could no longer handle the strains of a storage environment that was growing 40 percent annually, says Peter Hadikin, senior systems analyst at BCIT. This was causing nightly administrative tasks to take between 12 and 14 hours.
“Our administrative tasks were taking longer and longer to complete,” explains Hadikin. “What we needed was a solution that could decrease our backup window and also help us backup additional servers that were coming online.”
A key shortcoming of the old deduplication device was that it could not be expanded easily within a single footprint. “We found it quite frustrating that we were hitting capacity and had nowhere to go other than to buy more appliances,” says Hadikin. “We had sized it for five years of use, but in a little over two years’ time we had already filled it up. Since we couldn’t expand our previous solution, our only option would be to add additional appliances.”
IBM ProtecTIER solves the storage riddle
At that point, Hadikin and his fellow team members, Victor Arcega and Richard Reinert began looking for a new deduplication solution that could seamlessly integrate into BCIT’s existing infrastructure, deliver better performance, and offer the scalability needed for a growing central data repository. After analyzing these requirements among various vendors, BCIT decided a single ProtecTIER unit was the best choice, especially in terms of scalability.
“We got the total comfort of knowing that no matter what, we weren’t going to exceed the size of ProtecTIER in five years,” says Hadikin. “Looking forward 10 years or more, we’re still not going to reach the petabyte level of disk that ProtecTIER supports.”
Early in the process, Hadikin and other BCIT team members participated in an IBM ProtecTIER Customer Council event, which gave the team an opportunity to learn how other organizations had implemented the solution. BCIT’s own implementation, which was scheduled to take five days with IBM assistance, took only three. “The implementation went very smoothly,” says Hadikin. “There was little to no disruption to our backup and restore environments. And the migration of the data from our old environment to the new environment was very easy to perform and was carried out without impacting normal TSM backup and archive activities.”
Configured to serve BCIT’s distributed multicampus layout, the 36TB ProtecTIER solution is located at the downtown campus, about nine miles from the main campus. The ProtecTIER unit receives incoming data through two 4-Gb Fibre Channel network links. About 350 servers use Tivoli Storage Manager to backup and store 200 terabytes’ worth of data through ProtecTIER—about 300 million unstructured data files.
Enabling a new storage paradigm
The benefits of ProtecTIER are numerous, according to Hadikin. The nightly administrative tasks, which used to take 12 to 14 hours, are now completed in 4 to 6 hours. “We’ve basically opened up eight hours of additional time to schedule backups,” says Hadikin.
Many administrative tasks have been automated—or in some cases eliminated—with ProtecTIER. “In the previous solution we had to schedule administrative tasks on a weekly basis depending on how full the device became,” explains Hadikin. “While these tasks were running, they impacted the maximum performance of the appliance quite significantly. Those tasks might run for a day or more, which required more juggling of the schedule. Those activities are now handled automatically by ProtecTIER.”
ProtecTIER’s flexibility made it simple to integrate with BCIT’s existing storage infrastructure, and all backup functions can still be performed from a single Tivoli Storage Manager server. ProtecTIER has allowed a consistent 5.5:1 deduplication ratio, and the number of virtual tape drives has grown from 16 in the previous solution to 128 with ProtecTIER—with additional room to expand to 256. Says Hadikin, “When we issue a restore we can have multiple streams of data being run to a single server, and we now have the capacity to restore many servers at one time, in a timely manner.”
Hadikin and his team have also used ProtecTIER to eliminate a step at the end of their backup cycle, in which data had to be first staged locally in TSM disk storage pools and then migrated to the remotely located deduplication appliance. The elimination of this step has freed up four terabytes of local storage, saved a great deal of TSM processing and also provided immediate separation of our production data from our backup data. The ProtecTIER solution also enables BCIT to store far more generations of backup files—from seven generations with the previous solution to 30 generations today.
Despite the numerous operational benefits ProtecTIER offers, Hadikin says it’s the scalability that gives him the greatest peace of mind moving forward. “ProtecTIER is a solution that can stay and just grow as we need it to,” he says. “And with IBM, you’d be hard-pressed to find better support. We’re quite happy with where we are.”
- IBM® System Storage® ProtecTIER® Deduplication solution
- IBM System Storage TS3310 TapeLibrary with LTO® 4 tape drives
- IBM Power Systems™
- IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager
For more information
Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/storage
For more information about the British Columbia Institute of Technology, visit: www.bcit.ca
Products and services used
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