The recent announcement of 2T byte/hr backup by a group of hardware and software vendors emphasizes that terabyte per hour backups are possible.
The effort, involving equipment and software from Brocade
Over the last two or three years several companies have demonstrated 1T byte/hr backups using off-the-shelf hardware and software. Teams headed by SpectraLogic, Hewlett Packard and Computer Associates all demonstrated terabyte per hour backup with standard hardware and software at February 2002's event titled "Easing Backup Pain" which was sponsored by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).
While terabyte per hour backup is clearly feasible, it is not cheap. For example, the SpectraLogic team used a Spectra 64000 tape library with 16 Sony AIT-3 drives and four network appliance F880 filers with two shelves of 14 disks each. The system used four 1G bit Fibre Channel ports (two per filer) and two 400-MHz Pentium III servers running Microsoft Windows. However for applications with very small backup windows, it might be worth the price.
SpectraLogic has a white paper on its team's effort titled "Backing Up One Terabyte of Data in Less Than One Hour" at its web site. Silicon Graphics describes an earlier terabyte backup demonstration in a white paper on their site. EMC describes another terabyte backup demonstration in a white paper titled "EMC Demonstrates Record EDM Backup Performance" at its web site.
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.
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This was first published in July 2002