Painful Backups to Improved Productivity – NetApp SteelStore Cloud Integrated Storage and Amazon Glacier

Andrew Girin
 

As Spot has expanded, and the size of our data has increased, we found that we were spending an increasing amount of time backing up systems and securely storing trading logs, e-mail, and other communications. This time that had been spent dealing with the logistics of backup could be better spent on many other pressing business problems.

It was taking approximately one week of one person’s time each month to manage, so we set out to change the paradigm.

As anyone who has dealt with backups will attest, it is a tedious business. There was a lot of work involved in managing tapes. Not only was the basic tape management process time consuming, but the restores could also dominate one or two people for as long as three days.

 

The Solution

We evaluated a number of solutions, but ended up selecting NetApp SteelStore cloud integrated storage and Amazon Glacier.

It was an inexpensive way to manage our off-site backups, but we had two main concerns with the solution:

  • First, the high volume of data Spot Trading needed to archive meant the monthly storage cost per gigabyte had to be low.
  • Second, the archived data had to be secure while stored in the cloud.

The NetApp SteelStore cloud integrated Amazon’s low-cost Glacier storage service, and this solution addressed both of our concerns. The NetApp SteelStore and Amazon Glacier solution would hold down costs in two ways:

  • Glacier’s fee is only $0.01/gigabyte/ month. Additionally, the SteelStore appliance compresses and deduplicates data before sending it to the cloud, resulting in much less data stored.
  • Data security is provided by strong encryption in the SteelStore appliance, which encrypts data in flight and at rest with SSL v3 and 256-bit AES encryption. We are able to encrypt on the SteelStore appliance, so if someone hacks AWS, our files are useless to them.

We organized a SteelStore proof of concept and received the appliance quickly, and had a two-month trial. It was a straightforward install; nothing complicated. Once we connected to Amazon Glacier, we pointed Backup Exec to the SteelStore appliance, and it just worked.

 

Business Benefits

The business benefits of reduced archival storage cost and faster backup/restores means more time for the IT team to focus on new strategies. Eliminating the tape library and cancelling Spot’s current tape management service has reduced backup costs by 96%. From these cost savings alone, the SteelStore cloud integrated appliance will pay for itself in about two years.

Another potential cost that was avoided by moving archival data to the cloud was upgrading the company’s SAN infrastructure, which resulted in $700,000 in savings. The cost for archival storage using the SteelStore and Amazon Glacier solution will run approximately 4% of the backup-to-tapes cost per year.

The deduplication performed by the SteelStore cloud integrated appliance helps keep that cost low. It reduces the amount of data stored in the cloud by 85%.

Restores happen much more quickly now that the tape system has been eliminated. If the file you need is in the SteelStore cache, you just click it, and the restore is done. That can happen in just minutes. If the file is in Glacier, it’s typically a four-hour wait after you request it. Overall, that restore takes four and a half to five hours. It’s a very streamlined, easy process, and you don’t have to call anyone.

With restores going so quickly, and no more time spent managing tapes, we were able to concentrate our efforts on strategies and systems that really affect the company. By purchasing our own appliance, we were also able to ensure that we could still backup our critical systems even if AWS were down.

The five days a month that a person was tied up with backup is now available for higher level projects, such as Zoom and Open-Source monitoring.

 

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