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Facilitating New Workstation Deployment with a Disk-to-Disk Backup System

Data Storage Depot

March 25, 2004.................... Article by Gary Schwartz, Data Storage Depot

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Editor's intro:- This case study reveals an interesting alternative use for a crash recovery appliance.
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"I'm impressed by your new hotSTOR disk to disk backup" said Megabyte to Cheaperbyte . "Does it make coffee too?"
Often times it is the byproduct of a technology that solves an issue. When that very solution frees up substantial time to an already overburdened IT staff, productivity is increased.

At the American Radio Relay League's headquarters in Newington, CT., IT Manager Don Durand had things running smoothly, but he was looking for a better backup solution for his Windows and Linux servers and workstations. Since he had forecast and budgeted for a three year equipment life cycle, there was also the constant problem of getting new workstations up and running. This latter problem was being addressed by unpacking the new workstation, removing the hard disk, cloning it in an existing system, then repackaging it in the target unit. Finally, it was transported to the user's desk and set up.

We proposed using the network image restore feature of our network backup system, the Data Protection Unit (DPU), to simplify the task. A glint of gleam appeared on Don's face, the system was ordered, installed and immediately put to use.
The DPU is a self contained disk-to-disk network backup system. It is a NAS device but strictly for backup that handles WINx, Linux, Solaris and many other O/S's. The pre loaded Bare Metal Plus software suite provides bit-level image creation in addition to departmental or enterprise level backup functionality.

While using an image is normally relegated to disaster recovery operations, this ability can be parlayed into a system cloning tool. The DPU resides in the data center on a Gigabit Ethernet backbone. After the new workstation is put in place at the user's location, it is booted with a CD-ROM that contains a small Linux kernel plus NIC drivers. A connection to the DPU is automatically established and a menu appears on the screen. The specific image is selected and the restore initiated. Using a disk-based system allows true multitasking, i.e., concurrent systems can be built at the same time a system-wide file-level backup is taking place.

Every client's needs are different. For the American Radio Relay League they were able to modernize their backup system, provide for disaster recovery, and drastically reduce the time required to roll out new workstations. All this was achieved with a single small 2U product.

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