Solution For Early Adopter Opens SAN Backup Market For VAR
While the initial investment in time and expertise was large, the outcome for this VAR was a suite of specialized SAN backup solutions that opened the door to backup storage projects in nearly any vertical.
Business Solutions, May 2009
“The customer knew they had to make a change, and they had taken the first step by purchasing the SAN,” explains Milton Larson, a partner with Eagle Software. “They felt the SAN was a way to resolve problems they were having.” For Eagle, the question wasn’t if the project could be done, but rather how it could be done. “We needed to figure out how to take a point-in-time snapshot from each of the servers — some were connected to gaming machines while others were business-oriented, such as email servers — and present all those snapshots to one dedicated backup server,” says Larson. The goal was to lessen the impact on the production servers by duplicating data to a designated backup server while also shortening the hours consumed by daily backups of nearly 1 terabyte of data.
Custom Programming Provides Inside Track To Trusted Advisor Position
It took several months for Eagle to fully rectify the casino’s problem. Not only did Eagle have to determine how to programmatically create snapshots on the customer’s SAN and get that data to the backup server efficiently, it had to tackle “freezing” the data on the SQL servers for each data snapshot without interrupting access to the databases (a process often referred to as “quiescing” the server). “We could see how it needed to take place; the trick was learning the application programming interface [API] to the SAN to make it happen rather than going through the user interface,” says Larson. To achieve that outcome, Eagle developed a custom script that instructed the Xiotech SAN to pause mirrors (storage volumes) and connect/mount them on a backup server.
In addition, the VAR created the program that quiesced the casino’s MS SQL servers. The key, says Larson, was being able to wrap all those actions up in a single command line that could be triggered by the CommVault Galaxy backup software the casino was also installing.
After six months of custom programming, Eagle installed the solution. The client was so pleased with the solution’s reliability and lack of impact on the network that it remains a loyal customer. Just last year, it upgraded to a new Web Services version of the backup solution.
However, another outcome of the deployment was rather unexpected. “This user was an early adopter, so this was something new at that time,” says Larson. Because of that, Eagle decided it could package what it had learned developing the solution and create the SAN Toolkit, a suite of programs designed to automate backup and recovery in a SAN environment. The solution is so unique, Xiotech even assists in marketing the toolkit by featuring Eagle on its company website. The experience also allowed Eagle to roll out SAN backup solutions in nearly any industry, with clients including universities, government agencies, and architectural firms.
The newest step for Eagle has been adapting the backup products it offers to include a Web Services version of the SAN Toolkit that works with the new Xiotech ICON Manager, a storage management tool with a ‘master management view’ user interface.