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SnapServer N2000 Assumes Multi-faceted Role in Neumont University’s Backup Environment

When companies discuss their backup strategy, disk and tape are almost always part of that conversation. But in a recent interview that I did with Matt Jorgensen, the system administrator at Neumont University, we did more than talk about how the value of the Overland Storage’s SnapServer N2000 and NEO 2000e in its backup strategy.  We also discussed the critical role that the SnapServer N2000 plays in supporting the two different backup products in Neumont’s environment.

Neumont University is like any other organization in this respect: It wants to get as much value as possible from its investment in data protection. So when Jorgensen sought to add disk to Neumont’s backup strategy in 2011, he needed a solution that fit into his budget, enabled him to leverage his skill set and positioned Neumont for the future.

Two requirements somewhat unique to his environment were:

  • A desire to use a disk-based solution that supported iSCSI
  • Ability to concurrently handle backups from two different backup software products

His desire to use iSCSI as the preferred backup protocol instead of file-sharing protocols like CIFS or NFS stemmed from his experience managing VMware environments. He had already implemented an iSCSI SAN in support of his VMware environment so he was familiar with it and knew the performance advantages that it offered over CIFS and NFS.

What was also driving his decision to adopt disk as a new backup target was that he was planning to use Veeam as his preferred backup software for his virtual environment to complement his existing Backup Exec implementation. While he planned to configure Backup Exec to backup to his new disk target, Veeam could only backup to disk.  So whatever disk-based solution he selected would need to act as a backup target for both of these products.

In comparing the features of a number of disk-based solutions on the market and how much they cost, the one that immediately differentiated itself from the competition was the Overland Storage SnapServer N2000.

While Jorgensen was already familiar with Overland Storage’s tape-based NEO offerings, he was surprised to find that the SnapServer line of products offered the technical features he needed at a price that fit within his budget. He says, “The SnapServer price point was a big attraction plus it was going to do what we wanted it to do.

What he specifically liked about the N2000 was that it enabled him to start small and scale capacity as Neumont’s backup needs dictated. At the time he was evaluating the N2000, he was still in the process of planning to deploy Veeam so he only needed sufficient storage capacity in the N2000 to initially handle backups from Backup Exec. 

The N2000 enabled him to do this. Rather than having to fully populate the entire 2U frame with twelve (12) disk drives, the N2000 gave him the flexibility to start with four (4) 2 TB disk drives and then add on more disk drives as his storage demands increased. It was this flexibility coupled with the N2000’s affordability that led him to select and deploy the N2000 in February 2011 with an initial storage capacity of 8 TBs.

But as Jorgensen anticipated, he quickly needed to add more storage capacity as approval was internally given for him to purchase Veeam to protect his virtual environment. So to store this data, he purchased another 8 TBs of storage (four more 2 TB drives) and installed them in the N2000. This still left him room for another 8 TBs of capacity in the N2000 should he need it in the future.

Jorgensen has now fully deployed both Veeam and the N2000 in his environment. In configuring the N2000, he presented four 2 TB iSCSI LUNs to Backup Exec for it to use as backup targets and one 1 TB LUN to Veeam for it to use as a backup target.

Yet what makes the N2000 configuration particular appealing to Jorgenson is that he uses Backup Exec in conjunction with Veeam to offer a D2D2T solution for his virtual environment.

Even though Veeam cannot move data off to tape, Backup Exec can take the backups that Veeam has completed of Neumont University’s virtual environment, copy them and store them on tape on Neumont’s NEO 2000e. This gives Jorgensen the freedom to move his virtual environment backup data offsite via tape that he needs for disaster recovery even as the N2000 provides him with sufficient capacity to store 2+ weeks of backups online from both his physical and virtual environments.

In using the N2000 solution, Jorgensen accomplished two important objectives for Neumont University: affordably backup to disk and use it as a single target for two backup software products. He says, “We plan to use this dual approach to backup for the foreseeable future so we can backup and recover from either VMDKs or the file level and use either disk or tape media. The Overland Storage N2000 and NEO 2000e give us the flexibility to do so at a price we can afford.

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Jerome M. Wendt

About Jerome M. Wendt

President & Founder of DCIG, LLC Jerome Wendt is the President and Founder of DCIG, LLC., an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Mr. Wendt founded the company in November 2007.

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