Combining HSM and Backups

5 pts.
Tags:
Apple
Apple Xserve
Backup
Backup software
Hierarchical Storage Management
HSM
MAID
Massive Array of Idle Disks
NFS
Tape Backups
Tivoli Storage Manager
Xserve
Were looking at replacing our tape backup system, and at the same time were thinking our expending our storage by getting a HSM solution. What we are not sure of is whether these two issue should be combined. My original vision was that a good tape based HSM system (Tivoli,...) and a tape robot would be able to do both the Point-in-time backups (to be sent offsite) and keep dual copies of live archived data, in one big solution. However, This solution became more complex since my CIO wanted to include MAID technology as a secondary storage option. Since I think sending MAID disk offsite is a problem, I would need to pursue the offsite backups separately. The the solution became more complex, because one of our largest servers (an image server) is a Apple XServe, and there seem to be few vendors that provide HSM agents for the Xserve. Several vendors proposed the we use a hybrid of NFS and some proxy agent. However, they did not seem happy with the solution. All the vendors we talked to (except one) said that we would save money in the long run, if we got off the XServe now .. This is a politicol issue, since one of our departments has a strong loyalty to the XServe platform, and it has a good two years of life left in it ... Then I'm confused about Apples statement that they are getting out of the XServe Raid business (http://www.macworld.com/article/132164/2008/02/raid.html) Any ideas on how this should be approached
ASKED: November 21, 2008  1:00 PM
UPDATED: November 24, 2008  6:26 PM

Answer Wiki

Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.

A couple ideas from a vendor-neutral perspective on approach: Your original vision is a good one, but as you state, politics has confused things. What I am curious about is why your CIO wants MAID – if it’s not because your CIO favors a particular vendor/solution, then it has to be that your CIO wants to save cost via more efficient power management.

So, before you even think to deploy HSM, MAID, etc. – I recommend you backup (no pun intended) a bit, and offer to develop a proactive storage plan before these decisions are made.

The first step in that plan should be finding any storage space or capacity that is being wasted (there always is wasted space/capacity in every IT center). Finding these inefficiencies alone will make your CIO happy. Finding, and reclaiming, capacity can reduce spend and footprint. These savings could be far greater than paying for a new MAID system.

The next step would be to prioritize your applications and data sets. Chances are – some apps and data are critical, some aren’t as much, and some are not at all – but need to still be kept. This analysis will naturally lead you to a good HSM strategy – your original vision.

Once you take the above steps, then you will have fiscal and business goals that point to your perfect storage requirements.

If your storage requirements (based on your business and fiscal analysis) don’t point to MAID or XServer – then those solutions don’t make sense. If they do, then you have justification for procurement. Either way, if you get your CIO on board with the “storage plan” then your CIO should back up your conclusions.

A couple more points to think about:
- Do you have data deduplication in your plans to reduce cost in your infrastructure? If you do, a MAID system could challenge it a bit. You need all disks up and running to do dedup properly, and some MAID systems aren’t designed for that.
- On Apple XServe, your vendors are right. Apple discontinued one platform and is OEMing another. Their support and future product updates will be spotty (I love my iPod but storage is not their core competency). However, with a good storage plan you can have a good strategy to use that XServe you have, and justification to not buy another one if you don’t want to.

Hope this helps – Taylor

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